The late Nathu Singh wasn’t aware about the intricacies of golf but is the reason for son Mukesh Kumar’s longevity and success in professional golf.
A reputed wrestler of his time, Nathu spent hours watching Mukesh strike the ball at the nine-hole Army golf course in Mhow when he started out in 1980. “Whenever my ball striking got wayward, he would admonish me,” says Mukesh.
Mukesh went on to become one of most accurate ball strikers on the Professional Golf Association of India (PGAI), and now Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI). The statistics haven’t changed much for the 55-year-old. Records from the PGAI aren’t available, but the claim is he has won over 100 times. On the PGTI, Mukesh is the oldest winner and it will be a while before someone catches up with his 20 wins.
Mukesh beat Ali Sher in a playoff for his first pro win at the 1989 Jodhpur Open. From then on, he made it a norm to reach Mhow and touch Nathu’s feet first.
“Father blessed me and gave a trader’s register (meant for maintaining accounts) and said you have to fill it (with newspaper clippings and certificates of his victories).”
Mukesh won many more laurels, filling the pages of the nondescript red book rapidly, but each time his father’s words were the same.
“What have you achieved? The challenge is to keep winning and maintaining the top spot.”
Mukesh’s biggest golfing moment came when he became the oldest winner at age 51, at the 2016 Panasonic Open on the Asian Tour.
More than his biggest pay cheque of $72,000, the words of his father are cherished the most.
“‘Finally, you have achieved something,’ he said. I had longed to hear this, but he didn’t say it earlier lest I relaxed.”