Tashi Ghale is a businessman who owns and runs the Royal Singi Hotel in Kathmandu, and an avid sportsman. Seven years ago, when he turned 40, golf was the last thing on his mind. Today, he ranks as Nepal's top amateur golfer, having proved himself by winning the amateur category in the Surya Nepal Masters 2003 in November and through his contribution to Nepal winning the Team event in the Nepal Amateur Open 2003 in May.
Tashi is now a valuable sponsor for golf in Nepal. It was through his initiative that Nepal's golf team participated at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. Similarly, with the help of the Nepal Golf Association (NGA), Nepal joined the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, followed by a team which went to Australia and participated in the prestigious Nomura Cup. Ghale is also the man behind the Nepal Amateur Golf Open 2003. I took the opportunity to interview him last week.
Deepak Acharya: What inspired you to take up Golf?
Tashi Ghale: I used to play football and tennis, and sometimes snooker. One afternoon eight years ago, my friends Ang Tsering of Thamserku Trekking and Paresh Lama from Nepal's national team, asked me to join them at the Royal Nepal Golf Club (RNGC). They gave me one club and a few balls to hit, and that was the start. I was 40 years old then. I soon found myself hooked.
Why do you work so hard at your golf?
Soon after being exposed to golf, I decided to become a member of RNGC and started taking lessons. I became attracted to the club tournaments. Being very competitive by nature and since I believe a person cannot be a winner without being disciplined and diligent, I started working hard to win. My game improved and soon I became a single handicapper.
How would you evaluate your success?
I strongly feel the level of competition is low, and we don't have many players who can compete in international amateur tournaments. Just because I have been selected to represent Nepal, I can't participate just for the sake of it, and so I put in the hard work in practicing to reach this level.
How do you balance running a top hotel and finding enough time to practice?
It was very difficult in the early days. I had just started the hotel and was more of a weekend player. Once I began to represent Nepal I had to manage my time for golf as well. I'm in the office early and stay till noon, then after lunch reach the golf course and I'm back in the office at night. It's a daily routine for me now.
What does Nepal need to make breakthroughs in this sport?
Golf has gained massive popularity, globally and regionally. If some Nepali golfers perform well at international levels, it is automatically inspiring. We can't just lay back and wait for that to happen. It has to be pushed with integrated support from the golfing community: golf clubs, NGA, Nepal Sports Council (NSC) and the Government of Nepal. It's sad that we have so few talented young amateur players. Deepak, after you and Toran Shahi turned professional, we haven't seen many similar cases, but surely within a few years we can produce great golfers. We need to unite and form a golf development committee, establish a junior Golf Academy, select young golfers and give them proper training. I see no reason why Nepal cannot grab a gold Medal in the Asian games in the near future.
What future do you see for Nepali youngsters?
I see a very prosperous one, however I have found that neither the professionals nor top amateurs see it from that angle. We have talented players but none are giving their one hundred percent. To achieve success one must be fully determined and want it to happen, and not just wish it to happen. Examples are our two top amateurs, CB Bhandari and Shiva Ram Shrestha who come from very different social and economic backgrounds, but neither give their all. Today, even the regional Indian Golf Tour has so much money that one can live a comfortable life by playing golf professionally, but people should be ready to work hard at their game.
What are your goals in golf?
I have no ambition to become a professional golfer, nor to win a Gold Medal in the Asian Games. I mainly like to support golf development in this country as we have a very high potential. I'm ready to support talented players in my personal capacity, and to be associated in the management of the national golf team, and support them.
What does one need to become a successful player?
Good coaching, yoga and fitness, good golf practice facilities and most importantly, the sprit of hard work.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]