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Anirban Lahiri – India’s ace golfer : by Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
Anirban Lahiri : India’s ace golfer : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
In recent times, the name of Anirban Lahiri is synonymous with Indian golf especially when it comes to the elite international level of competition. In his first visit to the Chicago suburbs at the BMW Championship golf tournament, hiINDiA caught up with him. At the penultimate event in the FedEx Cup, seventy top golfers converged at Conway Farms Golf Club displaying their talent to propel them to the top thirty for the TOUR Championship. One of these elite golfers of the world was Anirban Lahiri who joined the PGA tour in 2015.
He recently dodged hurricane Irma at his Florida home where he has been living for the last eighteen months. He enjoyed the relatively cool Chicago weather getting ready for the BMW golf event where there is not cut for the players and he will play four full days of golf.
Yoga and his routine:
Anirban was quite vocal about his views on lifestyle. He said, “In the USA there is huge dichotomy where they are environmentally conscious related to yoga, vegan or gluten free dietary habits, trying to express more holistic ways of life with pro-environment and the other group is oblivious to these approaches. I find it very strange since it is at polar extremes.”
“When I was in my early teens, my father introduced me to it. My father, a gynecologist in the Armed Forces, used to follow and practice B.K.S Iyengar style yoga (he was the founder of the style of yoga known as “Iyengar Yoga” and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.) I practice five to six times a week with his yoga routine. I do about 14 to 15 asanas in various positions. It used to be a sporadic practice but in the last few years, I have been quite regular with it.
Natural talent and hard work:
“Lot of people have natural ability without a doubt. I have been a pro for ten years. I have been playing for 18 years or so. In my experience, what I have noticed some of the most talented golfers who one would think are born to play the game are no longer playing the game. It contributes to only a certain percentage of the overall potential. Beyond that it comes down to guidance, effort, and perseverance. I know so many golfers who were much more talented that myself. They are not even playing pro because they did not have discipline. I feel it can be a hindrance to have too much natural ability because your affinity to working hard is lower. There is lot of research. My coach Mr. Divecha in Bangalore does a lot a work on science of mind and science of learning trying to understand the human brain. People who actually work towards acquiring skills are the people who go forward. If you are born with it and you still put the effort in the game, you will be better than others and those are the world beaters.
Sports, India, and Golf:
Golf remains a game of the elite in India. When asked about the opportunities and the overall landscape of golf, he mentioned, “I can’t see the landscape changing with regards to opportunities. It is very simple. If you have land, are you going to make buildings or a golf course? It is a difficult call. Unless one of India’s golfers goes out and wins a major or wins an Olympic medal or does something at a global level, it is difficult to get recognition for the sport in India. Unfortunately, I do not see any major changes. Historically speaking, our government in India is not pro sport. Let’s just be honest about it. Intrinsically, there is no desire to grow the country in a sporting direction and that is a sad part. Cricket is definitely a religion and that is not changing. Look at what has been happening in USA. Cricket is the only profitable sport in India. It is so skewed and it is not possible for other sports to compete. What has happened in the last few years that some people are getting fed up and soccer, kabbadi, badminton leagues have come up. But, they will never ever rival cricket. And, that’s fine. I am particularly pleased to see young kids come and see golf.”
Cricketers and Golfers:
Anirban has played golf several times with Kapil Dev. In the past, Anirban has been involved in a camp with some of the cricketers of Royal Challengers Bangalore. “I gave some golfing tips to Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid. He rates the South Africans amongst the most talented in the cricket playing bunch. I know Sachin Tendulkar is interested but I have not played with him. Murali Kartik plays golf wherever he goes and commentates.”
Future of Lahiri:
When asked, “where do you see yourself five years from now?” He replied, “It is a very difficult question to answer. I did not expect myself to be here five years ago. I would not want to put an image in my mind because I feel it limits me. I feel that the possibilities are limitless. When I started playing, I did not even play the game to turn professional. I always played just for how much I enjoy it. Now, I want to see if I can get better and see how good I can be. That attitude has led me to this point in my golf career. I will continue to work with that attitude.”
He has a commitment to play in the PGA which he admits is the hardest tour in the world.
Who is behind your success?
“It is not one person.” He clearly attributes his success to his parents. “Being the only child of Bengali parents, it was an outside the box thinking for them to allow me to play and pursue golf.” He spoke highly of is coach also. He mentioned, “my coach Mr. Divecha has played a big part in my growth. I decided to grow organically in India. I had options to come to USA earlier, but, we decided to stay in India.”
He also acknowledged his wife Ipsa Jamwal Lahiri who has stood beside him and supporting his golf. Besides the sport, Anirban and his wife are embarking on an educational endeavor geared towards kids where he wishes to encompass golf, education, and yoga. He mentioned, “too many kids miss out on their childhood and education.” His noble thought on this subject were very refreshing and he is in the planning stages. Education is very important to Anirban and his wife. He advised the young children in India to get exposure to the game and give it a try. Take a club, hit a ball and if you like it go at it again. If you enjoy, keep doing it”
Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta