PGTI winners Sujjan Singh and Mandeo Singh Pathania follow a different career path away from Indian shores
Indian professionals Sujjan Singh and Mandeo Singh Pathania, both winners on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), have followed a different career path in recent years having established themselves as successful golf coaches in foreign lands.
Sujjan, who hails from Chandigarh and is a winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and two-time winner on the PGTI, moved base to Dubai in late 2018 and took up coaching at The Els Club. On the other hand, Mandeo, who was originally based in Greater Noida and won one event on the PGTI, shifted to Ontario, Canada in April 2015 and subsequently started coaching at the Glen Abbey Golf Club located close to Toronto.
Speaking about making the transition from playing professional golf to coaching, the 39-year-old Sujjan said, “I felt I was always inclined towards coaching as I enjoyed it. I’ve played golf at the highest level so I feel I can help people have a relationship with the game. As a coach it’s exciting to explore all the intricacies of golf. Teaching each person presents a different challenge.”
Thirty-seven-year-old Mandeo, unlike Sujjan, had been coaching in India for a decade while also playing as a professional. He then got married to a Canadian citizen in 2015 and moved to Canada where he began preparing himself to play the Qualifying School of the Web.com Tour (now called the Korn Ferry Tour).
Pathania said, “The Web.com Q School didn’t go well for me. It was a reality check as the conditions and greens were totally different from what I had experienced before. I then gradually shifted my focus to coaching full-time since I already had many years of coaching experience.
“Working as a coach has helped me stay connected with the game and also given me financial stability. There are not many former professionals coaching in Canada so that has been one of the biggest advantages for me in this country.”
Since the United Arab Emirates and Canada have not seen many Covid-19 cases in recent months, it’s now almost business as usual in both countries. As a result, Sujjan and Mandeo are both keeping extremely busy at their respective academies these days.
So what is the most important advice the two coaches give to their wards.
Sujjan, who currently also coaches Indian star SSP Chawrasia, said, “I tell my students to keep their expectations low and find things about the game that are challenging for them. Most importantly, I encourage them to enjoy the game.”
“I tell my trainees that there are no two people who have the same swing because there is no one way to swing the club, every person has his own way of doing it. Timing the ball is more important than having a good looking swing. Train your hands and you will be fine,” said Mandeo.
The two players have had to make certain adjustments in their new environments.
“I’ve had to adapt to working in an office-like environment. So it’s given me a different perspective as compared to being on tour as a professional golfer earlier,” said the articulate Sujjan, who has been working with the likes of the world-renowned coach Claude Harmon III at The Els Club.
“At the start I didn’t know what I was getting into but now I’m enjoying my new role. Life in Canada is great, people are very accommodating and the golf industry is growing. Travelling halfway across the world to India initially took a big toll on me physically and financially. So I don’t travel to India too often now,” revealed the fitness freak Pathania, who was the Rookie of the Year during the 2005-06 Indian domestic season.
Both golfers cherish the years they spent playing on the PGTI.
Sujjan, who won the PGTI Players Championship events at Panchkula Golf Club in 2010 and at Oxford Golf & Country Club, Pune, in 2011, said, “The PGTI has forced an improvement in the standard of Indian professional golf. With big prize money on offer, competition has grown exponentially.
“The PGTI has such a variety of playing conditions to offer that one has to get used to adapting all the time. The weather, food and courses are so different across India that it’s almost like travelling a continent. It prepares you well for the international tours. I miss the camaraderie and the competitiveness on the tour.
“My most cherished memory on the PGTI is winning my first professional event at Panchkula in 2010. It was special to win in front of my family and friends. On the last hole in Panchkula, I landed my third shot from behind a tree and about 60 yards out to within an inch of the cup to bag the title. I still count that as the best shot of my life given the situation and the setting,” added Sujjan, who also won the ADT’s Taman Dayu Championship 2012 in Indonesia.
Mandeo, who won the PGTI’s CG Open 2010 staged at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC) in Mumbai, said, “I am where I am today because of the PGTI. I learnt everything on my home tour. I miss the competition, the uncertainty, the travel and my friends from the tour. We were all like a big family.
“I can say this thanks to my personal experience that the PGTI is better than many domestic tours around the world in terms of the number of events, prize money on offer, facilities on the tour and the expense involved in playing a tournament. It was a priceless experience playing on the PGTI. It’s great that the tour now also offers Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. I’m keen on getting back to playing about six months of the year on the PGTI maybe after two years since I’m quite familiar with the playing conditions in India.
“My most cherished memory on the PGTI has to be winning the CG Open 2010. I always played well at the BPGC as it suited my game. I had a tremendous run on the PGTI from 2009 to 2011 as I hardly missed a cut. I was in a great frame of mind during that phase and held two course records at the time.”
Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Srinivasan H R (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.
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