India’s top golfer Rashid Khan says the adamant Delhi Golf Course is hurting his Olympic preparations by not allowing him entry for practice and he is left with no option but approach the government for intervention.
While other golfers in the country resumed training after the coronavirus hiatus, Rashid is unable to practice with DGC continuing to deny him access to the course despite easing of restrictions by the government.
A two-time Asian Tour winner, Rashid was banned by the DGC in January 2018 along with a group of golfers from practising at the course due to disciplinary issues. “DGC is still stuck on denying me access to the course, so even though the government has allowed us to resume practice, I am not able to practice. Everyone is practicing and I am sitting at home. I can’t go anywhere,” Rashid, who is the front runner to qualify for Tokyo Olympics, told PTI.
“Only the DGC members can make a booking and play. I am not even allowed to pay the green fee and play. The borders are sealed, so I can’t go to Noida or Gurgaon to practice. So where do I play? It is affecting me mentally, it is hurting my Olympic preparation.”
Asked what would be his next course of action, Rashid said: “I had written to IOA 5-6 days back about this issue but didn’t get any response till now, so the only option for me is to write and go and meet our Sports Minister for help.” Things are not going back to normal anytime soon and if I can’t practice, how will I qualify for Olympics. I am waiting for July 8, after that I will take a call.”
The tussle between Rashid and the DGC goes back a long time over the latter’s refusal to allow him to practice at the iconic 18-hole course. In May last year, the two-time Asian champion, who is currently ranked 185 in the world, along with seven professional and two amateur golfers were taken to the Tughlaq Road police station after they complained of the DGC staff not allowing them to enter the premises despite paying the stipulated fee.
Rashid had said he is ready to take back the court case, withdraw the police complaint, and hold a joint press conference to dissolve the tension. “I tried to compromise and solve the issue but they don’t talk. I don’t know what more I have to do?” he said.
The 29-year-old, who was part of the Indian team that won the silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games, was recently recommended for Arjuna Award. “When I got the call, I was very happy. If I get it will be a great achievement. It will motivate me to perform better. I played well last year. If I achieve this honour, I will be able to tell myself that despite all the hurdles, I achieved something.”