Three-way battle on in Indian golf

Professional golfers in India are up in arms against their governing body and its marketing arm over the payment of prize money.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi:

Professional golfers in India are up in arms against their governing body and its marketing arm over the payment of prize money and proper marketing of the Indian tour. The Professional Golfers Association of India or the PGAI and its marketing arm Tiger Sports Marketing (TSM) are in talks to reach a compromise but the players have had enough. Matters reached such a flashpoint that the entire board of the PGAI was forced to resign with the players simply not willing to deal with the body that they feel has been shortchanging them. "We have never defaulted on any commitment. In the last many years, there was one year when the prize money was less and that was made up by doing one extra event which was again as per contract," said Digraj Singh, director, TSM. "So, we have not defaulted on our contract and that's why PGAI is the best body to tell whether we have delivered or not. And, so far they have said we have delivered. As I said lots of misinformation is floating around," he added. TSM promised prize money of Rs 3.40 crore for the 2005-2006 season from 20 tournaments. They claim that they are just Rs 14 lakh short with two events to go this year. The players, however, are disputing this amount. According to them Rs 1.08 crore of the prize money is from one tournament - the Amby Valley Masters. That tournament is an Asian Tour event and should not count since the number of Indians playing at that tourney are not enough to even count it as an event on the Indian tour. The golfers seem to have won the first round by forcing all the office bearers of the PGAI to quit, but what they can't change is the tie up with Tiger sports Marketing. TSM are currently into the second year of another five-year contract. The players are unhappy since they allege that TSM spends more time marketing corporate events than focussing on the Indian golf tour. "Well, I think what the players are looking at now on the Indian tour is to follow in the footsteps of the Asian Tour where the players have sort of taken the charge and are looking at the future and how to market the tour themselves," said Gaurav Ghei, the first Indian to qualify for the British Open. "I think that when you have players looking after the playing side of the tour, playing side of the PGA and deciding how to go about it. I am sure it will be better for everyone in the long run," he added. The likes of Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Shiv Kapur have put Indian golf on the international map. But in India others are struggling to make a mark. Sponsorship interest it seems is dwindling especially since the Indian golf tour does not have any television partners who can market the game. "We have some very good quality players and they need to be given much more exposure and much more hype. Because at the end of the day, if a sponsor is going to put in money for a tournament, he will ask for mileage and that is only possible if media gives sufficient coverage to a tournament and that I don't think that is happening," said Prabhdev Singh, Editor, Golf Digest Magazine.