Monish Bindra adjudged Golfer of the month by 4moles.com
IGPN Director, Monish Bindra got candid with 4moles.com, after he was adjudged Golfer of the Month by the golf and media house. Apart from having topped several golf tournaments over the years, this was yet another feather in the cap for Monish but this time as a coach, or as can be proudly said, a master of the game.
Before we get into the conversation, let's understand a little about 4moles.
4moles.com is a digital golf and media house with a community of more than 100,000 golfers across India and Thailand. They are India's largest golfing community and Asia's most visited golf website. The platform brings together golfers from across the globe on a single platform utilising innovative technologies to book tee-times, run an e-commerce pro shop, provide a handicap calculator, host live scoring, book luxury holidays, run fantasy games, and a fully loaded mobile application, with the vision of creating a one-stop-shop for the golfer.
Video interview https://youtu.be/z79b7_R0-YI
From being a professional golfer to growing to be a Category A golf coach, Mr Monish Bindra has set a remarkable example to portray the love for golf in a sevenfold scenario and that’s what makes his journey a lot more special.
With a flamboyance of 41 years of playing golf, Monish Bindra first picked the golf club when he was merely 7-8 years old as he visited the golf course on the perk of being an army brat. As he picked the game at Lucknow back in 1978-79, there was somehow no coming back even though his young heart had a taste of all sports. Though he was an avid shooter at the national level, yet golf was always there as he grew a serious stance in 1993-94 for the game.
As he turned into a professional golfer in 1997, he was quick to pick the pace and be awarded as the Rookie of the Year in 1998 making it to be a stepping stone in the world of golf. A few coaching stints with overseas coaches only made him grow into a better golfer. With a decade at the pro-tour, winning a few pro-Am titles and a bundle of top-10 finishes, Monish was yet not convinced with simply being a golfer and that’s when he chose to have a slow transition towards golf coaching.
Choosing to help out at his home club, he eventually built his way in as a certified golf coach with the National Golf Academy of India in 2007. Few years down the line, he turned to be a Category A instructor at NGAI and is currently working as a faculty with the same.
With much experience in the golf industry and the spectacular endeavour that has been built over the years, Monish Bindra brought insights from the golfing world in an exclusive interview with Mr Dinesh C. Thakur, Founder & CEO at 4moles.com.
Being a golf instructor and golfer for over a decade now, what are your comments on the current times of golf in India?
What has happened through the COVID times throughout the years, we’ve seen an influx of new golfers. So there was a decline in the new golfers in the past five years in the age group of the 30s-50s but COVID has got a new way of life. Work from home, self-realisation and truly where do they stand in life have got their heads to turn to the sport along with a lot of kids choosing the game. As the sport comes with a general tag of a socially distant game, so eventually a person comes with the notion that it’s not a sport they are playing against somebody, or be with anybody, as they just have to do it by themselves.
Do you think the sudden focus driven to golf via Aditi Ashok will bring better opportunities for the players?
Definitely, there has been a build-up amongst the juniors and youngsters and this is exactly what we need. We need that more people who are performing exceedingly well, and they honk the limelight on the world stage and show what Indian golf is about. Additionally, it is now being seen by our own people and our kids at home, so yes, that has had parents coming up and inquiring me about real serious programmes that would take their kids to the Olympic ground in 4-8 years.
A country like the USA has 10,000 golf courses with over 24 crore golfers in a population of 33 crores. Do you think there is a BIG potential for the growth of GOLF if the government opens its golf courses to the public? Do you think this will even become a reality?
While the numbers are mind-boggling specifically when it comes to disparity, but what we need to focus on is also the disparity in the number of golf courses too. If we do not have facilities, then we surely cannot be generating more golfers either. One thing that we cannot ignore is how if the number of golfers is growing, then there’s that much more traffic and that much more stress on the existing golf courses. That’s what we need to figure out that how more golf courses can be made. Secondly, we can have stand-alone driving ranges, so that people can just have a taste of the game and enjoy their evening with their family and peers. The rest is rather a second phase scenario. Everyone will grow for which everyone needs to move hand-in-glove, I think the basic is around providing more golf courses and driving ranges.
There are only 291 golf courses in India, out of which only a handful are public golf courses. What is your anticipation of the growth in the number of golf courses and accessibility to the new Indian golfers?
It is true that if we need that much land, it should be government land. They can use it for a hundred years for a golf course and then use it for something else. We can have a nice Qutub Golf Course like infrastructure in at least to start within the main tier 1 cities and a few tier 2 cities where there is a dense and avid population that includes the aspiring people of the city who’d eventually pay for what they use embedded under the government banner.
There are 450+ certified golf coaches in India with 95 registered under the A and B category, do you believe it to be a satisfying number to grow the game of Indian aspiring golfers and to take them to international standards?
NGAI has structured an up-gradation programme for every single category and holds refresher courses for those who don’t need up-gradation. I have completed 36 hours of online teaching for one of the coaches. So the NGAI is working behind the scenes, but mostly we are taking our teachers forward, study what’s going around the world and tabulate it in terms of teaching material. As far as the numbers are concerned, these numbers will keep growing a lot of guys are seeing it as an option of being in the sport and staying connected with the game. It is an opportunity to make a decent to a good living so giving them a profession that supports them and their families.
What is the average cost per year for a golfer/ kid to start the game of golf? What are the additional expenses if they want to turn professional or play for the country?
To put a price perspective, it might be different for different courses but on average it can be between Rs 700 - Rs 1,500 for the standard introductory basis. Multiplying that for the number of golf sessions we have, it is approximately Rs 30,000 per year. What I’d suggest is, one should not get into over-coaching, probably a lesson or two for a week and let the kid enjoy the game first only then one should look into up-gradation. Let the talent come from within.
Is there any direct advantage for kids to get admission to better colleges in India or abroad? Do they need to play golf at a certain standard?
If you write to an international college stating I’m No 1 or No 2 at the Indian Golf Union, so they also look at things in a similar fashion. Coming to the cost factor, say that coaching would be around a lakh of rupees, fitness and nutrition would be another lakh of rupees, and the equipment would be the same. Then depending on where one is based, the travel is for two people as young golfers are always accompanied by their parents, hence the flight tickets, accommodation and the complete travel for 5-6 days, making it a decent budget of Rs 6,00,000 to Rs 8,00,000 making it a figure of about Rs 10,00,000 for a year. If your kid’s playing for the IGU and if the IGU programme is a stepping stone into college, then it’s rather that the kid holds complete focus of what they wish to do. It should be pre-decided of whether the focus will be academics or golf because even if you take golf as a career, one should always have a fall back plan.
What is the one thing you’d like to change about the golf industry to grow to its full potential?
One thing I would like to change is that, when I was training to be professional, I wish we had world-class facilities and world-class coaches, so I wouldn’t have stopped where I stopped and got in the golfing industry. But that’s exactly the take that we need to have today. We need more golf courses, we need more driving ranges, we will definitely have more golfers taking to the game, more club golfers and definitely have more champion golfers for India who’d be holding our banner high. The momentum has already started you just need to build up on that.