Currently at the top of the Hero Order of Merit in the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour, Neha Tripathi’s desire now is to improve on her world rankings. From playing golf as a hobby, to making a mark on the professional golf circuit, this 25 year-old golfer from Kolkata has come a long way.In a chat with SheThePeople.TV, Neha talks about her passion for the sport and the challenges of being a woman golfer in India.
The beginning: An instant liking to the game
I tried my hand at golf at age 11 in Lansdowne, a hill station in Uttarakhand. I have always loved playing sports but did not think about taking it up as a profession at that age.
My father used to play golf three times a week and one day I decided to tag along with him. I liked the game instantly! I was left at the practice range with 50 golf balls and was instructed to hit them. My hand-eye coordination has been fairly good and I enjoyed my first practice session tremendously. The idea of standing at one place and striking the ball at different directions instantaneously caught my attention.
Later that year, my father was posted to Meerut where I was regular with the sport. It was more of a hobby back then, till I turned 16 and we shifted our base to Kolkata. It was only in Kolkata, that I started playing tournaments of the IGU, both Amateur and Juniors. While I was playing the tour, it was only then that I decided to make a career in Golf.
If you’re not disciplined, you’re wasting your talent
My decision to take up golf professionally in 2010 was the turning point in my career. This event took place after I missed securing a position in the Golf Team sent for the Asian Games, in Guangzhou. So I worked harder to get better at the sport.
Golf is a challenging and unique sport
I love the sport. Every aspect of the game is unique compared to other sports I have played, from practicing at the range to playing tournaments in different courses around the world. It is said that no two shots of a golfer can ever be identical. The same course plays differently based on pin positions, the water on the grass and even the weather! All these things make the life of a golfer very challenging and exciting!
Sponsorship is a challenge
Lack of support from the corporate world in the form of sponsorship is what makes it difficult for most of the players. The focus shifts from playing well to cutting costs during events to save money. Also through the event the player is thinking of making the cut to be able to break even for the week, adding more pressure on themselves thus not performing to their potential.
Work hard because there’s no substitute for it
Three must-have qualities for a sportsperson
Firstly – Discipline. If you’re not disciplined, you’re wasting your talent. Secondly – Hard work. Discipline and hard work works together in making you a champion. Also I strongly believe in the line – the harder you work the luckier you get. Thirdly – Patience. You have to be patient about the results, you can’t get worked up and think about the outcome. If you work hard, you’ll ripe the benefit of it.
The biggest influence
The biggest influence in my life – my father. He has put in twice the amount of work that I have, and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have today.
Girls need to be encouraged to take up golf
What needs to be done in immediate future is to increase the number of events, make golfing facilities open to the masses and increase the prize money. The involvement of PSu’s more actively in supporting the game will go a long way.
A word of advice
Work hard because there’s no substitute for it. That is your ticket to being successful. At the same time, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t see the result. Have fun, live your life but stay focussed.