Kolkata pros including Chawrasia, Gangjee, Atwal plan help for RCGC and Tolly’s cyclone-hit caddies

(Pix: Courtesy: SSP Chawrasia, Rahil Gangjee)

V Krishnaswamy

New Delhi, May 26: It has been a few days since the cyclone Amphan hit Bengal and Odisha and unleashed its fury to leave a trail of destruction. Like most other aspects of daily life, the golf courses were among those that have been devastated.

Top professionals, who have grown up playing at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club and the nearby Tollygunge, are extremely sad and heart-broken. It also sets back the resumption of golf in Kolkata.

Top stars from the eastern metropolis, SSP Chawrasia, Rahil Gangjee, Smriti Mehra, Arjun Atwal, now based in US, were all ‘shaken’ by the havoc.

Chawrasia, who literally grew up the course, said, “It was so sad to see the damage. The driving range, the other areas and  parking were all hit so badly. Many of the trees, that I have seen all my life and like many generations before me did, were uprooted. They gave RCGC the character. It is indeed sad.”

He also said, “Just hearing the wind howl was scary. I took my dog down inside the compound where I stay and it was scared and I could scarcely stand. We just had to rush back up. Many buildings with glass on their front side were destroyed.”

Chawrasia, who lives within a 10-minute drive from the club, added, “The apartments where I live were alright, but many of the weaker structures near the club were blown away. I hear many lives were lost, but none that I knew. Many of my golfing friends, who live close by are however  safe. I spoke to Rahil Gangjee and some others, too.”

Gangjee, who has been in Kolkata with his morther during the Lockdown, said, “The caddies would have been hit hard. Now witth resumption of golf delayed that will be another blow. I spoke to Arjun Atwal also. Let’s see what we can do.”

Atwal said from the US, “I have been speaking to my brother, whi lives close by and also to Rahil (Gangjee). It is so sad. Corona Virus and now a cyclone. Thhe caddies at both clubs (RCGC and Tolly) will be hit hard. I have been speaking to some other members, too. We will try and do something for them. Many of them have had their houses damaged and possessions lost.”

Simi Mehra, a pioneer in Indian women’s pro golf, and also a product of RCGC, tweeted, “Bengal is resilient and will be back in (on) its feet in no time… strength to RCGC and TOLLY.”

Just before the cyclone struck, RCGC and Tolly, like many other clubs across the country was planning to re-open, but this setback will delay the process considerably .

Another pro looking to return to the course after a lot of ‘in-house’ practice and training was young Viraj Madappa. He said, “We are  all trying to see how we can chip in  and help.”

Some of the old trees, which have been uprooted, may be replanted if the roots are intact. That was done in 2009 also, when Cyclone Aila struck the region. More than 5,500 trees in Kolkata are said to have been uprooted or damaged by this latest cyclone. The process of trying to assess the damage has already begun and the extent will be known when it is complete.

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