Having won World Swimming Championship in 2017, Double Gold in Para Swimming...
Tournaments can be won with physical agility, but Golf is game of mind, emotion & tremedous composure, and all of that in just a matter of 20 seconds.
If there is one Athlete in India, who has mastered this art, it is the current India's Ranked #1 Women Golfer - Vani Kapoor. The only Indian Women Golfer to win a card at the Australian Ladies PGA tour, Vani Kapoor doesn't need much introduction. With more than 28 titles to her name, the DLF Ambassdor has changed the game's perspective of being a rich man's sport. Coming from a middle class family, competing against the rich, Vani has established herself as a the face of Indian Golf.
In this interview with Cynergy, Vani shares about her jouney into golf, her mental struggles, achievements and those key moments which made her the person, she is today.
Read in and do leave your comments below.
Share with us how did this journey start.
I started playing golf at the age of 10. I was introduced to the sport by my parents. My father used to play golf and was a normal club golfer. He started playing in Mumbai first. Then we moved to Gurgaon. Once I started playing then he stopped. I guess one family member playing golf is enough. laughs.!
Vani, during her early childhood days (Credit: Instagram)
The initial idea was to just take around 10 lessons, decent enough to play golf at the golf course but, ironically till today I am taking lessons but more so to play at the professional level. Nowhere in the wildest of my dreams I thought that Golf will be my career. Initially I didn’t the like of playing golf professionally probably I didn’t have the right coach.
My mother was at my back ensuring that I finish those 10 lessons and don’t waste the money. laughs...!! For a middle-class family to support golf lessons in those days was quite expensive. So that’s how I started my journey.
Why only golf?
I don’t know actually. It was never a career for me initially. I just wanted to learn golf and enjoy it. Thankfully, things kept moving the right way organically. If I have to think about it right now, I think its good because it’s an individual sport where I am responsible for my actions. Those 20 secs are yours, and you control the swing with your wisdom.
I used to play other sports as well like basketball, football, cricket, kind of very sporty in nature. Golf was an unknown territory which I wanted to venture. So, it started from that perspective.
Tell us about your first Coach, Anitya Chand
Trained under my coach Anitya Chand for around 15 years. He was the driving force behind me in achieving whatever I wanted. He made golf fun for me; and spotted the talent in me. He had once told me that I will the number #1 golfer by the age of 15. And it actually happened ahead of time, at the age of 14 itself. Good thing about him was that, he kept the sessions interesting, engaging, very competitive.
Vani, with her previous Coach Anitya Chand, under who she trained for 15 years (Credit: Instagram)
Initially I had thought golf to be a slow sport and an old man’s game. But that thought got completely changed under his guidance. On the flip side, it’s just slow because you are walking and not running. But there is lot of mental battle when we are playing, fighting that battle, doubts that we have & answer all those questions within a frame of 20 secs is quite challenging. I like the idea of applying my brain while playing and overcoming all the thoughts which crosses my mind and rationalizing them before taking my shot. That whole thing just excites me too much, that I am hooked to this sport for life.
Any specific tournament which was a triggering point, in taking forward golf as a career
Back then when I started playing golf, most golfers came from Delhi golf club which is a hub. I came from DLF Golf Club which is another golf club in Gurgaon. I knew, I was playing well. However, I was treated as an outsider, from a middle-class family compared to other who came from rich backgrounds. The only way, I could shut them up was through my game. So, every time I did that, it gave me a lot of confidence and I was wanting to do more and more, trying to be different, appear different and standout as the player. So, I guess, golf probably gave me that chance. Once I started winning with that mindset, it becomes a habit. I love winning and that's what keeps me lot motivated. I just kept at it, very natural and organic. Holding a stand for myself, breaking others down in their game, that’s what did it for me. And more importantly, I knew that I could this.
You briefly mentioned about your coach earlier “Anitya Chand”, with whom you worked for around 15 years. It’s not a small period by any means.
If I put it rightly, he has been like a father to me. He still is, even though we don’t work together anymore. He is always there with me.
My parents are very sweet, humble, very submissive and accommodative. Those are the kind of values which were instilled in me. Coming from corporate background, their mantra was like you should keep working hard, leave the rest to the destiny. This is indeed true, but sometimes I was not getting the answers I wanted or expected.
Vani, sharing a light moment with her dad (Credit: Instagram)
That’s where my coach “Anitya Chand” helped me and I started getting those answers from him. He instilled great deal of sense in me i.e. identifying what is right/wrong, standing on your feet, building a strong personality etc. It’s like being as straight as an arrow and that’s what helped me survive in the world outside. So, not just limited to golf, a lot of who I am today, is due to my coach.
Some of your recent achievements. How do you rate your performance in the last 1-2 years?
Frankly, last 2-3 years has been a struggle for me. I am still ranked #1 in India, but still, where I am now, is perhaps the toughest part of my career, I would say. I want to achieve a lot outside India as well, which I initially did in the first year, but there was a rough patch after that. Things were getting better, but now this Covid19 came up. So perhaps, it gives me additional time to prepare.
Vani, in action during her trainings (Credit: Instagram)
What could you have done better?
Golf being such a mental game, we need to be so clear in the head in order to perform well. Last 2-3 years was a struggle period, as per my personal expectations, of my own sport. My game was perhaps stagnating, becoming more predictable, and as I was mentally fighting that battle. If we try to be a person who we aren’t, it’s difficult to sustain for long. Golf gave me a chance to rediscover me as a person.
Whether its personal or professional, I tried to be a perfect role model in everything I did. I was doing everything right in the dictionary, but somewhere forgot to identify if that’s alright for me or not, as an individual. This is around a year back.
Vani, with her current coach - Laurence Brotheridge (Credit: Instagram)
Identifying new perspectives is perhaps what was needed. Called my current coach Laurence Brotheridge, spoke to him, started my practice again and things worked. I started loving the game again. In a snap, things changed, and I started feeling better mentally, and it showed in the results too.
What are the key international events you are aiming at?
I would want to win on the European tour, win the home title Indian Open which happens at the DLF, play on the LPGA and represent India in the Olympics.
How different is European tours compared to those in India?
I have played more than 30 European events. They are also held in Asia & Australia.
There is no Asian tour as such, other than the one in Hong Kong. We need to qualify to participate in those tournaments, and it depends on what card do we get. If we get full card, we practically get access to play all the tournaments, and if half card then you play only the half the tournaments. I did have the full card for 2 years and half card for 1 year.
Vani, in action during one of her tours (Credit: Instagram)
Weather conditions are different in Europe and plays a crucial role. Wind is of great importance in golf, and nothing besides that. It gets extremely cold there too, but that’s manageable. The level of competitions too is much higher in Europe where we compete with more than 120 athletes, compared to India, where at max we have around 30 athletes. The major hubs are Delhi & Bangalore in India.
Any other sports you love, as a viewer?
Has to be tennis. My best friend Rishika Sunkara plays professional tennis. She is my college friend actually.
What new things have you picked up during Covid19 break?
I have picked up some stuffs. I am studying on the coaching part, as I love the whole concept of coaching and mentoring. NGAI in India holds many courses and examination for coaching. There are 4 stages in that, and I am currently B category coach. Just using this time to collect all the knowledge and degrees which at some time may be helpful. It takes around 6 years to become an A category coach. Well, even though I am learning some coaching tricks, I will continue playing golf.
The break actually worked quite well for me. I had been travelling a lot for last few months, so anyways I was about to take a break. Our off season also happens around mid-March for 2-3 months. This break is really refreshing and helped with my fitness. Once the golf course opened, it was great to be there with new perspective and plans in mind.
Vani Kapoor, during her TEDx talks (Credit: Youtube)
Other than that, its Cooking and helping mom in the kitchen by doing small stuffs for her. Food in general excites me so much. I love trying new things in food. For months now, I am enjoying super healthy home food. But otherwise, my favorite food will be Thai.
Your favorite travel locations.
I am very inspired by Thailand food, Australian culture and Spain’s beauty. In Australia, members offer their house to players to stay together. Its good, as we get to know each other, develop bonds and relationships. At the same time, saves on the bill.
You aren’t much active on social media.
I don’t like posting much. I find it such a task and uncomfortable. I can do interviews, talk in general to an audience but just can’t talk to a camera and post updates. That’s just not me. Lots of management folks have advised me to post more, get more followers etc. so I came out with this rapid-fire thing on Instagram. This way I am trying to avoid posting about myself…Laughs...!
What do you have to say about other women talent in the Indian Golf?
Diksha Dagar, Ridhima Dilawari, Amandeep Drall are really good and have been around for a while. Astha Madan is a great talent, and somebody to look out for. She hasn’t played much in India, but if she is given more time in India and, starts playing abroad as well, I guess she will be the next upcoming talent. And same with Amandeep Drall. We are great friends too & share an amazing bond.
Your sponsors or any corporate associations
I have two sponsors at the moment - DLF and Callaway. Callaway helps with the equipment and DLF helps me with other stuffs like trainings and other related stuffs, including some of the expenses too. I was a part of Amazing Thailand. They have a policy of changing the ambassadors every few years. As of now, the winnings that I earn, I do invest some of that back in my sport. Compared to other sport, I feel golf is surely better interms of winning money involved. But again, it’s very difficult to survive in India, if you aren’t in top 3. It gets very tough, if you aren’t in top3. In Men’s however, there is lot more money to make. Women golf doesn’t carry that high money tag yet.
Vani Kapoor, with her Callaway gears (Credit: Instagram)
Golf should get more recognition as a sport
Yeah agree. Same amount of hard work goes in the game. It’s taken as an elite sport, but eventually end of the day it is still a sport and we all play for the country. Expenses are quite high in golf, so we actually need more support actually. With the growing middle class in India, learning golf has become much affordable now. Equipment get expensive in the professional range, but not at the beginning part of the sport.
Your message to the athletes out there.
This will apply for all sport actually. You need to just listen to your heart. It’s not about what is right or wrong, it’s about what do you want to do. Once you start listening to your heat, the amount of hard work and dedication you put will be much more fruitful. Loving what you do, is extremely important. Have fun, enjoy your sport and give your best.
CynergyServices wishes Vani Kapoor and his family, a safe health & a great 2020. We thank her for his time & the support to the community.
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