NEW dELHI: Organizers of the biggest golf tournament ever held in India have decided to throw open the doors for free in a bid to popularize the game in the cricket-mad country.
The $2.5 million Indian Masters, the first European Tour to be played in India, gets underway this week at the Delhi Golf Club with Ernie Els headlining a field that also includes the country’s best known players.
“The very intention behind waiving the entry fee is to encourage golfing fans to come and watch big players, some of them coming to India for the first time,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, head of promoters golf-in-Dubai.
“It’s really unheard of in the world of professional golf that an event of this stature and class is offered to spectators at no cost,” he said, adding that the free entry was “our way of saying thank you to all golf lovers in India.”
Organizers are expecting more than 20,000 people a day to watch the tournament at a course located in the heart of the city.
“This will give Indian golf a huge boost,” said local star Jeev Milkha Singh, who is credited with helping put golf on the map in India.
“Youngsters will have an opportunity to see top players and how they conduct themselves on the golf course. I think that is a great gesture.”
Golf is starting to attract a significant market in India, with the country seen as the next big frontier though cricket remains by far the most popular sport.