Never discount an athlete, for despite the lows, the journey is ongoing and one of discovering the self on and off the sporting arena. In Karan Taunk’s case, the golf course is the area of operation with a bag of mixed memories.
Unlike most making the jump from the amateur to professional ranks, it wasn’t a leap of faith for Karan. In fact, his rookie season on the Professional Golf Tour of India in 2014 was quite lucrative with opportunities to secure a breakthrough win. Though he could not close out the tournaments, the earnings added up on the order of merit and helped secure the card for the next season.
The encouraging start spurred the quiet golfer in “search of improvement”. Doubts started to creep in with introspection but took time to have effect. In the interim, Karan notched the odd strong finish on Tour like in Hyderabad at the start of 2015, and two top-10s the following year to keep him going.
Unknown to Karan, the doubts and small tweaks while working out at the driving range had started to take root. “A lot of pros make small adjustments to their swing and that leads to changes, sometimes you just get lost,” he said.
The first signs of unrest surfaced in 2017 when Karan could not manage a finish better than a 22nd in Ahmedabad. From there, it was a free fall as the number of starts and making the weekend became far and few.
Looking back, Karan can put the past few seasons in perspective. Lack of confidence and overall trust in his swing. “If now, one look at the flag helps decide the line of attack according to his strengths, this wasn’t the case earlier.”
Karan did not give himself time to dwell on the outcome or lack of results as “in golf you have to move on quickly”. Tired of hanging on the cut line, he learnt to condition himself in a way that the mind’s a clean slate.
But this exercise of breaking away from the past had a flipside to it. While erasing the bad memories, the good ones got rubbed off too, like the triumphs as an amateur and pride of representing the country in an India blazer. And that has not helped in the way out of the woods.
While he owes a lot to the coaches he worked with over time, the current solitude on the golf course — Karan is often the lone pro out practicing at Jamshedpur’s Beldih and Golmuri Golf Clubs is soothing. And of course, “being on my own, the mind is a lot less cluttered”. The 32-year-old is a lot aware of what works for him at practice.
With the Tour set to restart early September after Lockdown 2, Karan is ready to work his way into contention. Given his status, he might not get into all the events but whenever the opportunity arises, Karan will be ready, driven by belief that his time will come.
Photo credit: Karan Taunk