From a greenkeeper’s son, who would sneak off to the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in Kolkata to play a hole or two, only to be chased off by ground staff, to becoming a World class professional who would own a house right beside the elite club, ace golfer SSP Chawrasia’s life is nothing short of a Bollywood inspired story. Nicknamed ‘Chipputtsia’ because of his love for chips and putts during short games, this self-taught golfer has more than seventeen professional wins including the Indian Open, 2016. He is representing India at the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games where golf is making a comeback after 108 years. We caught up with him to know how he preparing for the world’s biggest sporting event. Over to the man himself!
Congratulations on representing India at the Rio Olympics 2016. How does it feel to be a part of this event, especially since golf has returned to the Olympics after a century?
Thank you. I'm grateful that I'm able to participate in the Olympics. It feels very special to be a part of this event and all the more special because golf is making a comeback after all this time. I'm hoping to win and make my country proud.
How do you rate your chances of winning a gold medal for this country?
Well I would rate my chances 10/10 (smiles). I will do my best.
What made you pick up the game?
My father was a green keeper at RCGC. As a child I saw people playing the sport and loved watching. So I decided to take it up professionally and luckily it worked out for me.
You are a self-taught golfer, but who are the other people who helped you in your journey?
Yes, I didn't have any coach or golf clubs to play at when I first started. So whatever I could gather I would play with that. My mother helped me a lot financially and a friend, Neil Law gave me his golf set to play with since I couldn't afford to get one at that time.
How does your father feel about your achievements now?
He is extremely proud and happy of my achievements and I always have his blessings with me.
Tell us about the struggles that you faced in your professional life.
I would say countless because there were many times when I felt my luck had run out. However, I think one needs to be patient and keep persevering, regardless of setbacks. There are no achievements without struggle.
What inspired you to persevere when faced with adversities?
My family definitely played an important role by staying by my side through thick and thin. My wife Simantini is always by my side and accompanies me on my tours too. She keeps motivating me, urging me to push myself a little but more.
What has been the most memorable win of your career?
My first win at the 2008 Indian Masters was of course special. But I was more ecstatic when I won this year’s Hero Indian Open as it is India’s National Open Tournament.
Over the years, has famed changed you in any way?
I think you should ask my wife about it (laughs)! I really don't think that fame has altered me in any way. I am a down to earth and patient person and these traits are definitely never going to change, irrespective of my success and fame.
Do you have any advice for struggling sportspersons?
Patience is the key in golf. Be patient and follow your dreams and you will surely succeed.