Even as the $2.5 million (Rs9.85 crore) Emaar MGF Indian Masters—a European Tour event that was dogged by a controversy over the initial exclusion of Indian golfers—tees off at the Delhi Golf Club, a new tournament—and controversy—are in the offing.
Tee time: Preparation underway for the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters, which will be held from 5-10 February at the Delhi Golf Club.
India will host its first European Tour Seniors Championship this October, boasting a prize purse of $600,000, also under the European Tour umbrella.
Arc Sports Management Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based company floated last month to hawk golf, basketball and motor sports, has firmed up plans to host India’s first senior golf tour. But Indian pros are peeved with the organizers, saying they haven’t been involved in the plans.
“How can you ignore Indian players?” asks an angry Ajai Gupta, tour commissioner of Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the organization representing domestic golfers. “A professional tour in India has to come through us, it’s 100%.”
On their part, organizers say it’s all about money.
“Players are angry because they fear a revenue stream is being denied to them, as they are under-age,” says Arjun Chopra, associate vice-president of Bellset Entertainment, the event management company involved in planning the seniors’ meet.
The meet involves top golfers who are above 50 years of age such as Nick Faldo, who Chopra claims will swing in India this fall. He also says there are only three or four “active” players under the PGTI fold, which means Indian participation would be slim. “Let them show us they have active golfers over 50 (years age),” he says.
All these seem to be a repeat of what occurred a few months ago: Sports management company Golf in Dubai had planned the first Indian Masters, and PGTI was not consulted. PGTI hit back and, supported by golf’s Asian authorities, ensured 20 spots for Indian golfers. “If it’s a tour in India, we need to be talked to,” says Gupta.
K.R. Abhilash, director of sports management at Arc Sports, in partnership with Bellset, says he’s in touch with PGTI.
Gupta denies it, saying he has only been contacted by officials of the European Tour. “They contacted us, they realize we are the official body.” Adds Arc’s Abhilash: “This is a premier event, we’ll sort it out.”