In November 1989, India was waking up to winds of change as a teenager was set to don an Indian jersey against arch-rivals for the first-ever time and was touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. That youngster was none other than India’s own ‘Master Blaster’, Sachin Tendulkar. Having first made an impact at 11 years of age, the Mumbaikar went on to become one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
Fast forward close to three decades and we have a new kid on the block, 17-year old Chandigarh golfer Aadil Bedi, who has taken the world by storm with his flair while wielding a golf club and is set to participate in the Asian Games. At an age when most youngsters look to emulate the likes of Virat Kohli’s crisp drives or MS Dhoni’s big-hitting, Aadil Bedi has carved out a fantastic career for himself having traveled all over the world and has won over 170 medals across various tournaments.
Come August, the budding golfer will be representing India and is set to don the dark blue blazer for the first-ever time and with that will also become the youngest ever golfer to represent India at the Asian Games. The Bridge caught up with the talented golfer and spoke to him about his training methodologies, his motivation, India’s chances at the 2018 Asian Games and what the future holds in store for him. Below is the interview in full.
Q: Hearty congratulations on being picked to represent India at the 2018 Asian Games! How pumped up are you and what has your preparation been like for the tournament?
Aadil: I am fully charged up for the tournament. Since I have gained a lot of experience over time with the 280+ matches I have played, this pressure is not completely new to me. I was not picked in the team, I would like to put it as something I worked hard for and accomplished, after being ranked 2nd in the amateur rankings.
I had to endure a grueling six-day trial and claim the spot and it feels like a dream come true that I will be donning the Indian blazer in a couple of days time.
Q: Can you run us through how this whole journey started for you? Do you come from a family of sportspersons and how has your family backed your journey so far?
Aadil: I have been lucky that I have always received my family’s full support. My parents were both government officers and were posted at Fatehgarh Sahib, about 40km from Chandigarh. My father used to play a lot of golf and would play every evening in Chandigarh. I used to accompany him back then since I loved the cold drink and chips!
Soon, at around the age of four, I started developing a genuine interest in the sport. My father saw this, quit his own game and started to plan my development with the help of coaches and experts. At first, I made the most use of an iron rod and my mother’s dupatta as a flag until my family shifted to Chandigarh where I joined the CGA golf range and started practicing.
Q: Please run us through an ideal day in Aadil Bedi’s life. What does an ideal day look like when compared to days during the tournaments?
Aadil: Every day, I wake up at 6 am. I do my fitness work after some yoga and meditation. I then travel to the Panchkula golf course and play nine holes. In the evening, I work on my game at Forest Hills Golf Club and work on my game with my father at the Hi-Tech laboratory. In the evenings, I work on my swing with coach Jesse Grewal and maintain fitness through alternate rounds of athletics and power fitness.
During tournaments, since I play for the country, my routine depends on the facilities as well. However, I am very particular about my diet and fitness during the tournaments.
Q: At such a young age, you have managed to achieve a lot in your career. What are some of the training techniques that you have adapted, which has taken you to such a high platform?
Aadil: One of the biggest positives for me is the work that my father and coach have put in to scientifically keep a tab on my swing using state-of-the-art sensors and Trackman, an indoor golf simulator. I work with the likes of Dr. Gurmeet Singh, Mr. Sagar Diwan who are experts in the physics behind sports which help me model my shots in a better way.
Being part of the Virat Kohli Foundation has also benefitted me a lot since the advice given to me by VKF and ex-Indian bowler Zaheer Khan has helped me plan my fitness routine.
Q: You have managed to achieve a lot in the past and are steadily climbing the ‘ladder of success’. Do you have any particular moment that you cherish and attribute as the ‘turning point’ of your career?
Aadil: Since I started at a very young age, I have managed to grow with time. I started playing since I was four years old and played at a course the first time when I was five at the Panchkula Golf Course. I participated in the Indian Golf Union (IGU) when I was six. I currently hold the 2nd rank in the IGU in the men’s division, which is a big feat.
I would probably attribute the 67 (5 under) performance in the recent trials as my best so far. I was trailing on the course and came back from behind which gained me a lot of recognition and has also earned me a spot in the Indian team for the Asian Games and Eisenhower Cup.
Q: Now let’s shift our focus to schooling. Given the fact that you travel all over the world and take part in many national/international tournaments, how do you managed to cope up with your studies and what do you plan to do in the future?
Aadil: I like to balance my studies and golf, and I am also lucky to receive ample support from my school. My teachers send me my coursework over email, which helped me score 78% in 10th grade and 75% in 11th grade.
I feel I am ready for the professional grade in India and if I do not go for the higher studies in the USA, I plan to turn professional after the Asian Games. While studying BA in India, I will play in the Professional Golf Tour of India.
Q: Do you look up to any particular sports star who has inspired you?
Aadil: My father’s interest in the sport motivated me to try my hand at the game. Now, I look up to Shubankar Sharma, who guides me since he plays in my home club. Since he is already a star, he is my role model.
Q: India’s last medal in golf came way back in 2010, during the Asian Games in Guangzhou. What do you think is the reason for the win-less streak and what do you think of the medal chances in this edition of the Games?
Aadil: I am not too sure about why this has happened since I was only a kid back then. This time around, our team is very experienced and seasoned, since we have been practicing for over a year now. I have a strong feeling that we will bring back a medal this time around.
I will be playing alongside Ryan Thomas, Kshitij Navid and Harimohan in the competition and since we play alongside each other in domestic matches as well, we will feed off each other’s strengths for sure.
Q: Having played for over a decade now, what is your long term goal?
Aadil: I started playing golf for the sheer love of the sport but with age, I have started to be more aggressive and have aimed for winning. Winning at the Augusta Masters in the USA and the major tournament in PGA is my ultimate aim.
Q: What do you envision for the future of Indian golf?
Aadil: The Indian Golf Union is supporting and promoting golf on a large scale level. DLF, Virat Kohli Foundation, and other groups are doing their bit to promote golf in the country. Hero and Take Solutions are also sponsoring our professional players.
In a country that is cricket-rich, it is good to see golf being given prominence which will undoubtedly motivate more youngsters to take up the sport.