Chandigarh: While saying that golf is the fastest growing sport in the country, Jeev Milkha Singh on Wednesday strongly advocated the need to have public driving ranges so that everyone gets equal opportunity to showcase their talents.
"I think the sport has a great future in our country. golf, I believe, is the fastest growing sport in India today. Cricket is obviously like a religion and you cannot compare the two. But only thing I want to have done in my country is to have more public driving ranges as there is just one in Delhi as of now," the 39-year-old pro said.
Jeev felt that if the common masses are to be given an opportunity, driving ranges are a must.
He said that junior golf is the most important thing for the sport to grow.
"If the child of a poor man wants to play, he cannot afford to become a member of a golf course. We've got to give these guys an opportunity. Golf courses, I can understand, because of limitations of land availability, cannot come up everywhere, but ranges should not be a problem...that's how the game is going to go to the masses," Jeev said, adding the country of over a billion people can easily produce a world champion.
He also praised the current crop of golfers in India.
"We have got a good special circuit in place. I feel Gautam Thapar has done an excellent job," he said.
"Indian economy and the Asian economy is growing at a fast rate and it is certainly going to give boost to a sport like golf and help it grow," he said, adding that with golf's admission at the 2016 Olympics, there was all the more reason that the government should take steps to have public courses.
Jeev also praised the steps being taken by the Omar Abdullah-led Jammu and Kashmir government for promoting the sport.
"I think (Union Minister and Omar's father) Farooq Abdullah is a great lover and ambassador of the sport. Recently a tournament was organised in Kashmir and it is good for the sport. The valley also has one of the finest courses."
Jeev, whose nagging back injury has had an adverse affect on his form and pushed him down the ranking chart, felt that in golf "life begins at age 40".
"I hope that at the end of season I will improve my rankings. In golf, life does start at 40. I am a firm believer in that. If you see Vijay Singh, the best golf he played was when he was 40-45 years of age. Only thing at this age, when you've got the world at your feet, is that one has to stay fit and in good health," said Jeev, who will turn 40 in December.
Jeev, who will be featuring in the Czech Open, has seven weeks of packed action coming up that will see him play tournaments in Scotland, Switzerland, Holland and Macau, and two tournaments in Japan and Dubai.
The golfer, who was here last week holidaying in his home town, said in his free time he likes to watch movies.
"I dont really follow other sports as this game involves a lot of time travelling from one place to the other and playing tournaments. My interests are watching movies and the latest ones I watched with my wife was (Bollywood movie) 'Zindagi Na Milege Dubara'. We enjoyed 'Delhi Belly' too, and had such a laugh. My getaway is watching movies," he said.
Jeev said that his family joins him on some tours as he does not want to miss his one-and-a-half year old son grow.
"We get so involved in our profession, but at the end of the day, family is most important. After 10 years, If I missed out on seeing my son growing, I would say what have I done. You don't stay on top always. You can be anybody in life. (the glory) It's not there forever," he said.