Picture by Mike Ehrmann/ Getty Images

First touch: How did Aditi Ashok take to golf?

Ashok was the youngest golfer at Rio 2016 and went on to create history at Tokyo 2020.
By Samrat Chakraborty

The city of Bengaluru, known as the 'silicon valley of India' for being the information and technology hub of the country, will be better known for being the hometown of history-maker and India's No.1 woman golfer Aditi Ashok after Saturday.

She finished fourth in the women's individual strokeplay, missing out on a bronze medal by a whisker. However, that has not stopped her from caoturing the imagination of the country.

It was in Bengaluru, a city of over 12.34 million people, that Aditi dreamt of being a golfer.

Golf courses were not common in the city. However, Aditi was still fascinated by the lesser known sport in her childhood.

In fact, she had her first shot at golf by chance. It happened so, after, the five year old girl took notice of the sport being played for the first time while sitting at a restaurant which overlooked the driving range at the Karnataka Golf Association.

“I remember asking my dad, `What is that? What are they doing?’ And my dad said, 'Do you want to give it a try?’,” Aditi told Golf Channel.

Her father, Ashok Gudlamani, worked in real estate and mother Mash Ashok, was employed in the Human Resources department before becoming a radio disc jockey. And they hardly had any idea about the sport. But, thanks to Aditi, the entire family took to golf and learnt the early ropes of it together.

“I remember they handed me a putter, because it was the easiest way to get started. I didn’t want to leave the putting green. I was there a couple hours, and when we left I wanted to come back because I wanted to know how the rest of the game worked.”

Her interest in the sport helped her make a mark quite early. At 12, she would make a cut at the Asia-Pacific Invitational tournament, where the normal age range for qualifying is between 18 to 22 years. Whereas, at 13, she went on to win her first professional tour in India.

In the later years, she added to her success, by becoming a three-time National Junior champion (2012-14), two-time National Amateur champion (2011, 2014) and the only Indian golfer to feature at the Asian Youth Games (2013), Youth Olympic Games (2014) and Asian Games (2014).

She, later, became the first Indian Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) player in 2017 and finished eighth in the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year standings. Besides that, at 18 years and four months, Aditi was the youngest golfer making an appearance at Rio 2016.

But her purpose to make golf popular back home and more accessible for girls could have been ticked off the box with her phenomenal and unanticipated performance at Tokyo 2020.