In conversation with Digpu, Golf prodigy Chaitanya Pandey talks at length about the impact of COVID-19 on golf, how is the sport expected to open post lockdown and his personal sports regime.
With the world in lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the casualties has been sports which had to take a back seat due to government-imposed travel restrictions and new laws on social distancing. Golf has been one of the sports most affected with courses shut up.
One such golfer has been rising Indian star 8-year-old Chaitanya Pandey, whose meteoric rise to the top of his sport has been halted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the takeaways about Digpu’s discussion with Chaitanya Pandey on golf and life after the lockdown ends.
What is the extent of the impact of Covid19 on Golf?
The obvious answer is that because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government lockdown, we are currently barred from playing or practicing the game. Courses are closed, many of them have had to lay-of staff and are just operating with a skeleton crew.
Some groups have been hard hit financially by the shutdown as well, particularly caddies who rely on golf for the day-to-day work and do not have any other income. There are also many casual workers like greenkeepers who have seen their income dry up overnight.
At the same time all tournaments have been cancelled, and it is by no means clear when events will be staged again. I was due to take part in some big events in Europe & USA, i.e European Championship, IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Jose, FCG Callaway World Championship & US Kids Golf World Championship but because of the pandemic I am not participating.
When competitive golf does return, it is likely to be completely different than it was before. Social distancing will need to be maintained, spectators may not be allowed to watch events in any numbers for months, possibly years to come, and there will be many health and safety precautions.
What would you do once the golf courses are open for play?
The first thing I would do is hit some balls again just for the pleasure and freedom of being able to do so. After months in lockdown, the fact of being on a golf course again will be a pleasure in itself.
After I had got over the novelty, I would then go back to practising my swing and my short game again, but, in the first instance, being back on the course would be enough in itself.
One thing that golfers need to be careful of when they return to action is not to try and overexert themselves the first time they get back on a course.
Also Read: Chaitanya Pandey – India’s Young Tiger Woods
How are you staying with the game during lockdown?
I am fortunate to have a small golf studio at my home so I am able to practice my swing and also work on my short game. I have also been doing stretching, yoga, meditation and running to stay fit. I love to watch videos and films of the top professionals, so I can learn more about their game and pick up tips and techniques to try and adopt when we are all able to start playing again. I also try and stay in touch with my coach Rohit Bose over Zoom. He continues to give me tips and advice and helps me stay motivated and focused on my game.
Tell us about your routine during lockdown?
Before I start my day, I try and exercise and run for 30 minutes on tread mill to get both my mind and body up and running. I like to stay on top of my schoolwork as it always come first for me. I am doing 5 -6 online classes conducted by my school on weekdays plus home assignment. An hour of Yoga and Meditation helps me to stay calm and focused. Evening hours I love to dedicate to my game which comprises of hitting 200 balls and short game.
I am an avid reader so read lot of different kind of books and practice and compose music on my guitar. Lastly spend time with my family watching movies etc.
What is your advice to everyone in context to the present times?
Obey the government guidelines, stay safe and follow the rules. This is a really difficult time for all of us but we are all in this together, so we just have to be patient and wait until the situation is under control.
One of the advantages of playing a game like golf is that it teaches you to be mentally strong. I think you just have to regard the health pandemic as like having a bad round of golf.
In conclusion, Chaitanya says, “It is bad for a while but does not let it shake your confidence. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully, you can strike the ball better then.”