Making of a golf champ

SINGAPORE - 1987, at 18, Varsha Majmudar (then Varsha Chulani) was India's national table tennis champion. Twelve years later, Mrs Majmudar was making waves in two completely different sports.

She became the Indian Ladies National Snooker Champion in 2002 and won the Singapore Ladies National Snooker Championships from 1999-2002.

She was also the Singapore Ladies national 9-Ball Pool champion from 2000-2002 in addition to the 8-Ball Pool champion in 2002.

Now, another 12 years later she has been instrumental in the emergence of another champion in a totally different sport - her 16-year-old son Yash Majmudar, who became the Singapore Amateur Golf Champion in September last year.

Is it a case of sporting genes being perfectly transmitted or is it much more than that?

"I don't know about the genes. But I think it definitely helps to understand what it takes to get to the top of your sport. The support a child needs, the demands sporting success make on one's time," Mrs Majmudar tells tabla! in a freewheeling chat in their home in Singapore.

Yash, who is in the 10th grade, has been home schooling for the last six months which allows him to concentrate on golf and participate in at least one tournament a month in Singapore and around the region.

It was a choice the Majmudars, Nishit and Varsha, made after careful consideration.

Mrs Majmudar says: "You have to be able to give 100 per cent to your sport in order to succeed." She takes Yash around for his training, tournaments and other fitness regimes almost every day of the week.

He plays at the Tanah Merah Country Club, and has coaching twice a week to hone his skills.

Yash has been playing golf since he was four years old.

He developed an interest in thesport when his parents bought him a set of colourful plastic golf clubs.

A unique choice for Indian parents, as most others would rather pick up a plastic cricket bat.

Mrs Majmudar says: "We bought the set because I thought it was very cute and colourful and not with the intention of making him a golfer. In fact, Nishit and I didn't know anything about golf."

Yash's father, Mr Nishit Majmudar, is currently the chief executive officer of Aviva Singapore and was a university-level table tennis player in India in his younger days.

He took up golf to be able to play with his son during his growing up years.

Mr Majmudar tells tabla!: "I learnt golf because of Yash and I can't thank him enough for that. Playing golf with Yash for seven to eight years every weekend allowed me to spend quality time with him and literally see him grow up. Taking him to tournaments round the world has been most enjoyable - we are living the dream."

Yash started hitting plastic balls with plastic clubs in the house almost obsessively.

The parents realised it was more than just child's play and took his interest a step further by buying him a junior golf set. And thus began life on the greens for young Yash.

He has played in golf tournaments in the US, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore among other countries.

He hopes to be able to go to college in a US university where he'd be able to play college golf and from there graduate to higher levels and international arenas.

He attended a golf camp in the US recently, which he says improved his game tremendously.

Yash says he is inspired by US golfer Tiger Woods, whose determination and talent have ensured he has remained on top of the game for such a long time.

A golf glove signed by five-time majors champion Phil Mickelson remains one of his most prized possessions.

"I watched Mickelson play at the Barclays Singapore Open. It was great to be able to watch him up close and the signed glove was a big bonus," Yash says.

However, it is American golfer Rickie Fowler whom Yash loves to emulate most on the course - at least in his outfit.

Fowler's flamboyant outfits like orange pants, pink and crimson T-shirts have made him one of the most noticeable characters in golf.

Yash has his own Fowler-like wardrobe which includes pants in blue and red and T-shirts in many outrageous colours.

The Majmudars lived in the UK before moving to Singapore and then to the Philippines and Thailand and then back to Singapore three years ago.

Mrs Majmudar and her husband grew up in Mumbai which is where they met and married.

Both were table tennis players and trained at the same club in the city.

In fact, Mrs Majmudar gives her husband credit for her success in table tennis.

"He has guided me a lot and helped me grow my game," she says.

After their marriage in the 1990s, the couple moved to the UK where Mr Majmudar's work took him.

By then Mrs Majmudar's table tennis career was already in decline and in the UK she gave up the sport completely.

And picked up snooker and pool because she "needed something to occupy" her.

"I didn't have much to do during the day. I would go to a club around 10.30am and be there till about 2-3pm. My husband taught me the basics of the game. The good thing about snooker is that you don't need a partner to practise. You can play on your own and try and improve your game," she says.

Having been a top sportsman, Mrs Majmudar wasn't satisfied with just playing recreationally. She took to snooker and pool with as much vigour as table tennis, her first love.

After the UK, the couple moved to Singapore, where Mrs Majmudar honed her snooker and pool skills even further.

"I played at the Singapore Indian Association in Balestier and then at the National Snooker Association. When I got to know that there was a ladies national championship in Singapore, I entered it just to see where I stood. To my surprise I won. I went on to represent Singapore in the Asian Pool Championships and then participated in Indian snooker championships, which I won in 2002," she said. Mrs Majmudar makes it all sound so easy.

But surely this unique feat of winning national championships in different sports isn't a walk in the park.

It puts her in a league of her own.

However, now her sporting life has taken a backseat to son Yash's golf career.

She continues to do freelance production work for Fox Sports.

Earlier, she had done commentary for various racket sports like badminton, table tennis, tennis and even snooker and pool for ESPN StarSports.

Sports is life for Mrs Majmudar and her family.

When not accompanying Yash around golf courses, she keeps herself updated with the latest happenings in the world of sports - from cricket to football to motorsports.

Daughter of a Mumbai-based doctor and a housewife, Mrs Majmudar's sporting journey began on her parents' dining table on which she played table tennis with her father, twin sister (who is a psychologist) and younger brother.

It took her to the highest echelons of Indian table tennis.

Today, her sporting life continues. On the greens.

By her son's side. By the sidelines.

Cheering him, encouraging him and giving him guidance like only a champion can.


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