Golf Star From Caddie To King
The story of golfer Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, better known as SSP or Chip-putt -sia for his short game, is like a fairy tale of short. A self-taught golfer Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia has made every effort to achieve his dream of pursuing a career in golf. Today he is one of the best known names in golfer fraternity both nationally and internationally.
Recently Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia won the champion title in McLeod Russel Tour Championship (November 28 to December 1, 2012) in Kolkata.
Royal Calcutta Golf Club is the place where Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia’s father used to work as a gardener and where he began to dream as a golfer at a very young age of eight years when he used to stay with his family in the Club compound. Talking to Uday India Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia said: “I practically grew up on the course at Royal Calcutta Golf Course where my father was a gardener. I picked up the clubs when I was about eight years old and have not left it since then. Golf is the only pursuit I have known. I dropped out of school and walked past alleys where children my age played cricket. At 14 years of age, I knew my aim was to win the Indian Open. Asian and European Tours were a far-fetched dream back then. I did not want to dream so big that I could end up completely shattered. Little did I know I would make it this far.”
The young boy at the age of eight years used to watch members who would come to play in the club, and observe how they used to hit the ball with the golf stick and used to stand next to them to learn and hear what they talked about after every hit.
As time passes by, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia became a caddie or the carrier of golf sticks and balls with a certain member or a golfer. After the retirement of his father from the club, his family had to settle outside the club. By that time Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia was 20 years.
As a caddie Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia developed good contacts with members of the clubs and golfers. It was during this period that seeing his potential a generous member of the club and golfer Neil Law gave Shiv Shankar Prasad his first golf set. Shiv Shankar Prasad puts this in his own words thus: “I became a caddie and was part of this club where I met many members. One day I met Neil Law, my relationship with him was very good. Neil gave me my first golf set and I would practice at the club all day.” As it was the practice that after every day 10am there would be no one in the golf course of the club and young Shiv Shankar Prasad used the opportunity to practice until he made himself perfect. Meanwhile he continued to be a caddie of Neil Law who always supported him to realise his dreams. Later on he became a caddie of Madan Singh who helped him monetarily to play golf professionally.
As a golfer his first income was Rs 4,700. Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia still recalls the day as he says: “My first income was 4,700 rupees. I saved it. It was a lot of money for me because as a caddie I was earning 600 rupees a month.”
After Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia turned professional in the year 1997, there was no looking back for Chowrasia. He won numerous championships—not only nationally but also internationally. After Jeev Milka Singh and Arjun Atwal, he became the third Indian golfer to win the European trip.
Shiv Shankar Prasad still remembers Emaar-MGF Indian Masters at Delhi Golf Club in 2008 as he says: “It’s the best golfing memory I have. How did I celebrate? I didn’t do anything that night in Delhi because all my friends were preparing for the next tournament. But when I came back to my hometown Kolkata, there was much excitement. Family and friends congratulated me. I was felicitated by Royal Calcutta Golf Club where I worked as a caddie and learned the game. It was really the most cherished moment of my life.” Golf is still regarded as the game of the elite class of society, but Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia proved that the game could not be confined to a certain section of society
When asked about his relationship with his own caddie, Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia said: “I don’t have a fixed caddie for my tours. In India, Munna is my caddie. Of course I try not to do or say things that might have hurt my caddie. A caddie should be like your friend.”
Golf for Shiv Shankar Chowrasia is more than a sport. He says: “I cannot think of myself doing anything other than playing this sport in the near future. If I am recognised today, it is because of golf. This sport has given me name, fame and a life that I dreamt of at one point of time.”
The story of Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia is not just a story of a successful golfer but also of sheer determination and hard work to take himself to the zenith of the game.
By Joydeep Dasgupta From Kolkata
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