The pandemic and ensuing phases of lockdown have impacted champions and journeymen alike on the Professional Golf Tour of India, albeit in different ways. In Shankar Das’s case, it was about parting with an asset the family cherished deeply. A seven-time winner on the domestic tour, Shankar last won in September 2017, and the past few seasons were interspersed between tending to an ailing mother and wife, and playing golf with a cluttered mind. It was a severe strain on resources and trying out assorted clubs in this phase also did not help the cause of breaking the title drought. Then came the pandemic and the brunt of playing intermittent golf was felt acutely.
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The second phase of lockdown was somewhat better than the first as the family was better prepared and Shankar was able to replenish the fast-diminishing reserves with some earnings from mediocre results. With time to introspect after tournaments got stalled in March, Shankar decided to go back to his trusted brand. The golf set was top of the line and alluring, but Shankar did not have the means to go for it. It was then that the women of the house, mother Aruna, wife Rupa and daughter Sagarika, got into a huddle and took a call. The gold ornaments the family had bought over the years for Sagarika’s wedding were taken out of the bank locker and put to use. Shankar had not envisioned he would have to take this path and was understandably reluctant. “My wife reasoned that if I played well with the new clubs, we would again be able to procure ornaments for Sagarika’s wedding,” said Shankar with a lump in the throat. Shankar can vouch that practice with the brand-new arsenal at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club has been on expected lines. The real test lies when the PGTI resumes operations early September in Hyderabad, and the potency of Shankar’s spanking new clubs will be put to test. Till then, it will be grinding it out daily to ensure the tournament weeks are a sail.