Amid lockdown, Mumbai golfer finds fairway beside railway tracks!

Golf courses across Mumbai may be shut but nothing’s keeping Anil Mane away from the sport he loves.

By Utathya Nag

An early morning walk by the railway tracks near Vashi Naka turned out to be the little rub of the green Mumbai-based golfer Anil Mane needed.

A 10-year veteran in the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and a coach-cum-caddy at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC), Mane has been off the course as the Chembur-based club has been shut due to the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.

However, during a stroll by the Mumbai railway tracks, Mane stumbled across a patch of grass which would help him shake the rust off his swings.

“We had been searching for a place in the last two weeks. When I was walking one morning, I came to the nearby railway line and I found a very good place where there is a lot of grass.

“So, I said we could practise here because I didn’t find any other good place,” he told the Times of India.

Golf by the railway tracks

Mane and a group of BPGC caddies have been regulars on this stretch for the past few days, making it into a makeshift course to keep their game polished.

The group has also attracted quite a fan following among local residents thanks to their unique practice sessions.

“No one here has seen this game before and they like to see it. It’s a new thing for them,” Mane noted.

To their credit, the group has been dedicated to their cause and even braved Mumbai rains to turn up for practice. “Golfers can’t stay home,” Mane quipped.

Despite the stretch of grass being a god-send, the public surroundings do pose certain limitations. While chipping and some putting is possible, it’s difficult to hit the long ones.

Mane, however, plans to get to the spot early morning around 6 am to take advantage of the empty streets and hopefully practice longer ‘150-yard’ swings.

Mumbai golfer Anil Mane has been practising next to the railway tracks in Vashi. Photo: Rahil Gangjee/Twitter

Anil Mane’s unlikely love story

Coming from a humble background, Mane’s passion for golf, often considered a sport for the rich and elite, has made headlines in the past.

Back in 2015, he featured in a CCTV documentary where he spoke about how he took to golf from the slums.

Having been away from his calling for the past three months, Mane is eager to get back into the game and is happy to have found his very own stretch of grass by the tracks to keep him golf-ready.

“I need to practise because once the lockdown is over and the government grants permission, tournaments will start immediately. Till the golf course opens, we have to do this no? There is no choice,” the 39-year-old reasoned.