New Delhi, 10-03-2020
Dilip Tirkey Interview
Former Indian Hockey Captain, three-time Olympian and Asian Games gold medalist Dilip Tirkey recently turned to professional golf having competed at the 2020 TATA Steel PGTI Qualifying School. Tirkey, who made his professional debut at the Vooty & Haldi presents Golconda Masters 2020 powered by Telangana Tourism, speaks about his seamless transition from hockey to professional golf, in this interview.
How do you see your transition from hockey to golf?
For someone like me, who has played sport at the highest level, it was very difficult to stay away from sport or any kind of rigorous physical activity after retirement. So, I took up golf about two years back.
It all started when some of my good friends in Bhubaneswar, who are all avid golfers, advised me that I should try out golf as it has some similarities with hockey. When I began playing golf, I realized that I enjoyed it a lot as it had a lot in common with hockey such as the swing, the body movement and the aspect of focusing on the ball. These factors helped me make a seamless transition from hockey to golf.
The game of golf has been a refreshing change for me as it has given me a lot of positive energy and kept me in touch with the world of sport.
How has the experience of playing on the PGTI been?
I thank the PGTI for giving me the opportunity to play on the tour. PGTI members and officials have given me the much-needed support and encouragement in the initial stages of my professional career. At the Golconda Masters 2020, my debut professional event, I was paired alongside Vijay Kumar and KPS Sekhon, two very experienced professionals. I learnt a lot from observing their game especially their golf swings.
I also had the privilege of playing alongside the legendary SSP Chawrasia during the Pro-Am event of the TATA Steel Tour Championship in December last year. SSP was very encouraging and complimented me on my swing so that really helped my confidence grow.
What are the major differences between playing hockey and golf at the competitive level?
The biggest difference is that in an individual sport such as golf you are all by yourself and no one else can cover up your mistakes unlike a team sport such as hockey. Golf demands more mental strength as players have to be able to recover from setbacks on their own. There is no team-mate who can come to their rescue in a tough situation. This is something I have felt while playing tournaments.
I feel, the other stark contrast between the two sports is the surrounding atmosphere in the playing arena. While in hockey, there are often big and noisy crowds at the stadiums that help get the best out of you, in golf it is quite the opposite as players prefer a quieter atmosphere and less disturbance since there is a lot more focus and concentration required.
What are your immediate goals in the initial stages of your professional golf career?
My aim for the next one year is to practice sincerely, take coaching from a professional coach and look to play all the major tournaments on the PGTI in order to improve my game and gain maximum exposure and confidence.
What are your best memories from your hockey career?
I’ve played all the major tournaments in world hockey including the Olympics, the World Cup, the Champions Trophy, the Asian Games, but my most memorable moments from my hockey career would be winning the gold medals at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games and the 2003 Afro-Asian Games. The gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asiad was special as I was proud to be part of a team that achieved the feat after 32 years.
Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Gautam Thapar (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.
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