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Aditi Ashok, the Trailblazer Teaching India That Golf Isn’t a Sport for ‘Gentlemen Only’

Bengaluru’s Aditi Ashok is in contention for a historic Olympic medal in golf after a stellar performance tied her in second rank in the second round of the Tokyo Olympics.

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India’s star woman golfer Aditi Ashok was the youngest player at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today, this 22-year-old is representing the sport in a leading second position at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

The female golfer has come a long way in stirring conversation about female participation in an otherwise male-dominated club sport.

 

“A lot of people were trying to figure out what golf was, so that they could understand how I was playing and if I had a chance to win a medal,” she confessed to Golf Channel. “For the next six months to a year, everybody remembered and recognised me from the Olympics. Even though I had won three European Tour events after that, people still remembered me as the girl who did well at the Olympics.”

 

A trendsetter in her own way, she went on to play a series of national firsts as a woman golfer in the 2013 Asian Youth games, the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and the 2014 Asian Games.

 

Championing the acceptance of sports as an option for women, she told FirstPost, “I feel there are two things to overcome for women to play sports. Firstly, it needs to be looked at as a viable career option. Secondly, we need to understand that a woman’s place is not just in the house.”

 

Aditi’s golf talents also bagged her the Arjuna Award in August 2020 as well.

 

The backbone of a star golfer

 

This Bengalurian’s own interest in golf was supported by both her parents.

 

It was the age of five when she encountered the sport during a serendipitous breakfast near the Karnataka Golf Association. Backing her fascination, both her parents have consistently supported her training since then. While her father caddied for her at the 2016 international event, this year her mother has taken over the integral role.

 

As her father, Gudlamani, shared with PGA Tour, “Her mom is very focused, and she’s, in fact, the pillar of her whole golfing journey.”

 

With this backend guiding force, she went on to break convention at every step. Along the way she has not only matured as a golfer but also earned global recognition through sheer confidence in following her dreams.

 

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“I just finished my high school exams and then I was at the Olympics in two months. But this time I think [there is] definitely a lot more experience than just playing on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association). The last five years makes you way better as a player than I was at Rio,” she shared with The Times of India.

 

On 5 August 2021, she cleared the second round at Tokyo by carding five-under 66. Her bogey-free play tied her with international players Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen. The feat becomes even more special in light of her performance in round one, which missed only the last hole.

 

Commenting on her performance, she was candid in her observations about her game and told PTI, “I think I played better than I expected today because I had a lot of hybrids into the greens, so I didn’t really expect to be like 5-under through 17. But, I kind of holed some [good] putts and holed important par putts as well, which kept the momentum. So, yeah, it was a good day.”

 

Here’s what’s being said about this young golfer’s performance:

 

Edited by Yoshita Rao

 

Feature Image Source: Twitter

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