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Soaring from a shack in Nepal, Subhash!

Bengaluru: Standing in a corner, almost deliberately hiding himself from the crowd, Subhash Tamang walked up nervously to the presentation ceremony when his name was announced to collect the champions’ trophy.

Forcing a smile and a few handshakes, through the continued applause, he seemed eager to walk back to the quiet corner when the ever-cheerful tournament director, Paramjit Singh, pulled him to deliver a winners’ speech.

“Thoda mere jaise jorse bolo(talk as loudly as me),” prompted Paramjit before helping Tamang hold the microphone throughout his 80-second ‘thank you’ address.

But the youngster, just a few moments ago, needed zero assistance while making all the noise where it mattered most – within the 18-hole boundaries of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.

The 21-year-old Nepali had ambushed India’s Rohit 9&7 in the 36-hole final of the 122th Men’s All-India Amateur Golf Championship in Kolkata on Sunday to become the first from his country to win the event.

“He is such a raw talent. Give him a shot and he hits it,” said coach Tarun Sardesai, who trains Tamang at his academy in Bangarapet, Kolar.

The road to the title began 12 years ago when a 10-year-old Tamang from Lalitpur was visiting his cousin in Kathmandu for the first time. With his small-time labourer parents struggling to make ends meet, Tamang had no choice but to contribute. He found his first job as a ball boy at the Royal Nepal Golf Club where he learnt playing the game along with his fellowball boys, caddies and other club staff during free hours. On one such instance, businessman Tashi Ghale spotted him and took Tamang under his wings.

“Tashi sir and Deepak Acharia sir (of the Nepal Golf Association) nurtured me and eventually I began playing tournaments,” said the double South Asian Games gold medallist. “As I progressed, they contacted Tarun sir and I have been training at the Tarun Sardesai Golf Academy since mid-2021,” he added.

Subhash TamangSubhash Tamang

Subhash Tamang

Impressed with the then 19-year-old’s swing and ball striking abilities, Sardesai and team decided to adopt Tamang. “We didn’t have to change too much in his swing at all. Introducing a structured programme into his life has been the only big change,” explained Sardesai. “Coming from such backgrounds, they mostly have self-confidence issues. We have been working on that quite a bit.”

As Tamang’s swing and putting skills grew sharper, his impressive results on the golf course helped enhance the living conditions of his parents and a younger brother back home. The NGA raised Rs 10 lakhs to build a solid house behind the shack the family had lived in for years.

Now with the All India amateur win, Tamang has his eyes set on the professional tour. He will fight it out in the final stage of PGTI’s Q-school next month for a full card.

For someone who communicates best through his game on a golf course, this next challenge, perhaps isn’t too much of a bother. What could be unnerving for Tamang is the rest of the demands that come along with pro golf, such as: improving body language, learning English, booking his own flight/ train tickets, hotel rooms and handling his finances.

“Slowly, obviously, but we want to bring all of this into his life. These are the things we will be focusing on going forward. Along with golf of course,” offered Sardesai. 

Tamang is on his way to becoming a wholesome golfer. His journey has inspired another young Nepali talent from a humble background flying down to TSG in the next few days. Sport changing lives, in more ways than one, across borders.

(Published 19 December 2023, 01:34 IST)

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