07 Nov 2023 | Participation | Amateur golf |
Getting into golf through volunteering
by Patrick Taylor
Before last month, Hriday Bajaj had never stepped on a golf course, but that didn't stop him from volunteering to caddie in one of the most prestigious amateur events in the world.
A Sports Management Masters student at Deakin University, Bajaj arrived in Australia from India just four months ago.
As a non-golfer, Bajaj admits believing that golf was an exclusive sport, with high barriers to entry, and it was not on his radar of sports he wanted to learn more about.
An industry visit to the Australian Golf Centre through Deakin completely changed his mind.
"We heard from the CEO (James Sutherland) about where golf is going towards in Australia, to a much more inclusive sport with various new innovations," he said.
"One point that stuck with me was however you are involved in golf, you are still a golfer.
"This really interested me, and I immediately wanted to get into it, and see how I could contribute.”
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was held at Royal Melbourne, and with players coming from 37 countries, a call was put out for local volunteer caddies.
"I thought I'd give it a go, because as a sports student myself, the best way to get into any sport and understand how a major event is run is to be part of it, and by volunteering I was really part of it," said Bajaj.
Bajaj was paired with Indian player Krishnav Nikhil Chopra, and the two were able to connect on culture, cricket, and their shared home, despite Bajaj's lack of golf experience.
"Krishnav's father is actually a former Indian cricketer, so we were able to connect through a broader sports interest," he said.
Bajaj thoroughly enjoyed his week at Royal Melbourne, and in reflection he is happy that he gave golf, a sport completely foreign to him, a go.
"Stepping out of your comfort zone often leads to the most rewarding experiences and valuable lessons, and that's precisely what this experience was for me," he said.
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