Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, 10-05-2020

C Muniyappa’s ingenuity helps him create a mini golf course in a rural setting

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Leading Indian professional golfer and 2009 Indian Open champion C Muniyappa provides us a classic example of this.

As luck would have it, just prior to the nationwide lockdown imposed across India, Bengaluru resident Muniyappa accompanied by his family including three kids, made the journey to his grandfather’s village Malayur in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu on March 20 in order to attend to a piece of land belonging to his family.

Muniyappa, 42, has been visiting the village, which lies 60 km from the Karnataka border, once a year for several years now as he claims that the calm and peaceful atmosphere of the village helps him relax, unwind and get away from the rigours of city life and competitive golf for a while.

However, this time around, the annual visit to the village has paid Muniyappa even greater dividends. Not only does Malayur lie in a green zone as far as the Covid-19 map is concerned, it has also provided some unexpected opportunities to practice golf for the soft-spoken Bengalurean who originally hails from Tamil Nadu.

Muniyappa said, “I came to the village with just my seven-iron as I didn’t expect to get too much practice here. But with the lockdown in place, I feel my trip to the village was perfectly timed and turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“While in Bengaluru all practice facilities including my home course KGA are currently shut, here in my village I have been able to stay in touch with the sport by building a mini golf course for myself through some innovation and resourcefulness.”

With the end to the lockdown not in sight, Muniyappa put his ingenuity to work by creating two mud greens in the vast space available and carving out a five-iron and a putter from a tamarind tree.

Improvisation comes as second nature to Muniyappa as he has been used to carving out clubs from tree branches since his childhood when buying clubs was not possible for someone like him who came from a humble background. His self-designed iron helps Muniyappa strike the ball to about 200 yards.

Putting the practice facility and the two mud greens in place involved a lot of hard work for the pro who has interestingly also had his life story featured in a school text book in Tamil Nadu.

Muniyappa, who is also fluent in English and Hindi, besides Tamil and Kannada, said, “It wasn’t easy as the terrain here is rocky. I had to first clear the bigger rocks with shovels and then level the area I had identified. Unseasonal rain helped my cause as it saved me the effort of watering the greens. The chip-putt facility with two par-three holes, the bigger one at 30 yards in length, came up as a result of a full day’s effort.”

Muniyappa, a regular on the Asian Tour till a few years back, has also prepared a tee box for himself next to one of the greens from where he practices his seven-iron shots which are directed to a separate landing area.

While Muniyappa’s out-of-the-box solution has helped him get regular hitting, chipping and putting practice at a time when it seemed most unlikely, the improvised mud greens have also contributed in sharpening his putting skills.

“Since the surface is undulating and rocky, missing even short putts isn’t uncommon and one needs to strategize to avoid the small rocks,” said Muniyappa.

After beginning his day with a yoga session on a scenic hill-top nearby, Muniyappa competes hard with his three children, sons Kiran (16) and Prem (10) and daughter Gopika (13), on his creatively designed makeshift course. The fascinating contest is held every morning and evening.

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