It may not enjoy the mass appeal of cricket, but golf is at an exciting stage in India right now, feels Jason Bierholm, vice-president and managing director of TaylorMade Golf in Asia. In Delhi to launch the TaylorMade Burner 2.0 irons and golf-inspired Ashworth clothing line, Bierholm says India needs to invest in low-priced golf facilities to popularize the game. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What do you make of golf in India today?
Even though golf is growing at a rate of 15% in India, it is still at a nascent stage. The market for this game is small, when compared to the rest of Asia, but still exciting. Even though China is a clear market leader right now, there is a huge potential in India, and in the next 10-15 years, we can expect it to expand tremendously.
What can be done to encourage the growth of the game here?
Iron man: Jason Bierholm. TAILOR-MADE GEAR Burner 2.0 irons. What: A set of eight irons. Price: Graphite set, Rs47,000; steel set, Rs41,000. Available at: Pro shops and exclusive TaylorMade outlets.
India needs investors who can put in funds for the growth of low-priced facilities, for instance, driving ranges that are accessible even to the mid- and lower-income segments of the population. It has often been seen, like in the case of China, that big amounts of money are being invested in high-end golf clubs, which have expensive membership fees and are therefore accessible only to the well-heeled.
Where in India are the big golf markets?
Golf is most popular in north India, with about 50% of our business concentrated here. The NCR (National Capital Region) region itself comprises 35% of the market, with Chandigarh making for another 15%. The next big market for us is Bangalore.
Why should a globe-trotting golfer buy clubs from India when he can pick and choose from a wide variety of clubs abroad?
Buying a golf set is quite like buying a suit—the right fit will take your performance to another level. A golfer’s game keeps evolving, and for any adjustments to the clubs, it is advisable to go to your local dealer. Plus, clubs bought here will come with a warranty, which makes it easier to have any problem sorted.
How big a role does technology play in a skill-based game like golf?
Technology can play a big role in the performance of a golfer. While the basic skills definitely need to be there, the right technology can help a golfer improve his game by a few notches, propelling the player to the next level. At the end of the day, every golfer, whether professional or amateur, wants to play better, and technology helps with that.
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