Khushi Khanijau @golferkk27 was nine and impressionable when she was asked by Ashok Khanijau, her grandfather, to try out some kids’ clubs at the range of the Rambagh Golf Club. That was a life-changing moment and the sound of the irons making impact with the dimpled ball still resonates in her ears.
There was always a wow about golf, and unknown to her, it happened while watching her grandfather and father Gagan practice. For the little girl, there was more to it. “I liked being amid nature and it was more of meditation than sport. The intense concentration and precision were what I liked,” says the athlete from Jaipur.
The keen eyes of the grandfather noticed the interest and put Khushi under expert guidance, and of course, Gagan was always on hand to walk the course with the excited youngster.
The pursuit of a dream began, slow and steady as there was no way studies could suffer. Starting with wins at the club level, Khushi graduated to the IGU’s national amateur circuit at 15, won across tours, and qualified to represent the country at events in Indonesia and Thailand.
Khushi touched another milestone three years later by turning professional @wgaofindia with the backing of mother Rupali. “My family has been a source of continuous support and encouragement.” The initiation was tough but the camaraderie on tour helped her settle down. A runner-up finish in Hyderabad and top-10 on the order of merit got her a spot in the Women’s Indian Open, but more importantly the rookie of the year award. The opportunities kept coming, another shot at the national Open and a chance to train at the prestigious @dlfgolfacademy.
Khushi is still some way from achieving her dreams, and till that happens “I will continue to play as long as I can walk”.
Photo credit: Khushi Khanijau