Chandigarh, 12-07-2020

Learning the piano aids Ajeetesh Sandhu’s fluency on golf course

Not commonly known, music has had a hand in Ajeetesh Sandhu’s success on the golf course. The Yeangder TPC and Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational, his recent successes on the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India respectively, were a sail courtesy the tracks that played in the mind. The composition changes each day of a week, but whenever Sandhu can string together a list of his liking during a tournament, he plays well. Another pointer to this delicate fusion is the T2 finish at the Bangabandhu Cup and Taiwan Masters last season.

Almost all the numbers --- Sandhu is a fan of electronic music --- that play are piano based, so when the lockdown in March put a stop to golf in Chandigarh, as in other parts of the country, the 31-year-old saw an opportunity to make the alliance between the sport he loves and symphony even deeper. “I always wanted to understand how a piano works but never had the time,” he said. Just before life came to a pause, Sandhu bought one and enrolled for online tutorial classes. Three months down, he has learnt the basics but reading music is still tough. The objective is to understand which notes to play and for that expert intervention will be required once life gets normal. Sandhu is not in a hurry as “like in golf, you keep learning”.

Striking resemblance

The similarity does not end here. Sandhu reckons playing the piano is quite like the golf swing since it is about “keeping tempo and rhythm”. Perhaps beyond the comprehension of a commoner but Sandhu finds striking a note has helped his golf swing as it is “more fluid”. In fact, ball striking was an area of concern in 2018 and led to a below-par season. That changed last year, and the consistency was to be seen in the results --- runner-up spots in Dhaka and Taipei and two T11 in Thailand.

Sandhu was hoping to gain impetus at the season-opening Hong Kong and Singapore Open this January, but it was not to be. “I did not get any momentum in Hong Kong and while the first round in Singapore went off well, I struggled in the second.” Telling himself that the year had just begun and that it was normal to take time to warm up at the start of a year, Sandhu endured two more poor weeks in New Zealand and Malaysia. The Hero Indian Open in March would have been the ideal platform to regain form but the lockdown stalled plans.

Mask a hindrance

Sandhu emerged from lockdown and his longest break from golf a month back when the Chandigarh Golf Club reopened its doors. Since then, it has been more of playing the course. “Too much of range work isn’t for me as I lose playing sense.” The endeavour is to get sharp around the greens, but with tournaments on the Asian Tour not happening before September, staying focused is tough. Sandhu was hoping to get into the UK swing when the European Tour resumes in early July but that has been ruled out as per his ranking.

Besides rustling up breakfast --- experimenting with eggs became his forte during lockdown, Sandhu is getting used to another “normal” he does not quite enjoy. Playing in a mask is stifling, and he hopes once tournaments resume, covering the face is not made mandatory. He has some experience of playing in one during last year’s Panasonic Open India when smog made it tough to breathe at the Classic Golf and Country Club, but a protocol wasn’t in place then. If enforced when events resume, Sandhu will comply but says the weather will play a part in his call.

By Robin Bose

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