(December 23, 2021) Driven, zealous and supremely skilled, 15-year-old golfer Avani Prashanth is a teen wonder whose achievements have now made her the number 1 amateur player in the country. The Bengaluru-based ninth grader recently won the Global Prodigy Award 2021, which recognises the top 100 child prodigies around the globe from different verticals.
Thrilled to bits about her latest recognition, Avani tells Global Indian, “It feels great to win this award as so many children who are talented in diverse fields had applied for it. I will be heading to Dubai for the award ceremony in February 2022.”
Road to No. 1
Avani is now the best ranked Indian golfer on the World Amateur Golf Ranking at 136th position globally, and is the number one amateur golfer in India. The All India Ladies Amateur tournament which was held in November, which Avani won, propelled her to the number 1 spot in the country. “This is a prestigious tournament which is played over a period of seven days, and I had to play nine rounds of golf. I’m the only player to have won both the match play and the stroke play, and this rare double victory is all the more special as no one else has won it in the last decade,” beams the teenager who is eyeing the Asian Games for more silverware, and busy training under her British coach.
Avani topped off this major victory with another laurel by winning the IGU All-India Junior Golf Championship in Ahmedabad a week ago. The golfer is also a two-time winner on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour of India. Some of the other milestones in this fervent youngster’s journey are being the best-performing Indian female in the US Kids World Championship held at North Carolina and also at the European Championship held at Scotland.
View this post on Instagram
The road to number one has been filled with arduous work and perseverance for Avani. Her tryst with golf happened when she was barely four. “My father, who used to play golf, wanted to take my granddad to learn the sport. On that particular day, I excitedly asked my father to take me along too, and he did and also gave me a junior club to play with. Although the coach was reluctant about teaching a four-year-old, he was amazed by my hand-eye coordination at such an early age. When he and my dad returned after three hours, they saw that I was still practising with the club. They were convinced that I was born to play golf,” reminisces Avani, who first trained in Gurgaon, post which she went to Nigeria and then finally moved to Bengaluru six years ago. “Bengaluru is where I honed my golf skills properly. I currently train at the Karnataka Golf Association and also at the Eagleton, The Golf Resort and Sir Laurence Brotheridge, my coach from the UK, trains me online.”
A ninth grader from Greenwood High School, Avani credits her school management for their constant support. “My principal Aloysius D’Mello and my teachers are really supportive and accommodative. They let me give my exams according to my schedule and don’t pressurise me even if I am unable to write the exams along with the other students. Recently, I wasn’t able to give my term 1 exams with the others as I was busy playing tournaments, so they created a separate question paper for me, and allowed me to take the exam later,” says a thankful Avani.
Of course, having supportive parents who root for you consistently can make a youngster’s journey towards their goal all the more easier. “My parents Surekha and Prashanth have been very encouraging and supportive. My dad never thought twice about taking me on a tour to Scotland when I was just six, and spending money on the best equipment and coaches to train with. In fact, my dad is my best friend,” shares Avani. Her father works in the pharmaceutical industry and her mother, a home maker travels with Avani on her golfing exploits.
Despite not being able to indulge in typical teen activities like most other people her age, Avani maintains that she doesn’t miss out as she loves playing golf. “I also get to travel across the world for tournaments while playing my favourite sport, so I have the best of everything,” smiles the tiny golfer who idolises American golfer Nelly Korda who won the LPGA seven times.
Making golf more accessible
Golf in India is still a growing sport, and not accessible to everyone because of how expensive it is. While Avani was lucky to have the best training facilities, not every aspiring golfer has that privilege. In order to make the sport more accessible to youngsters, Avani says, “They should create more driving ranges as most of them are currently in private clubs, which you need to be a member of, to be able to undergo golf training. Increasing the number of driving ranges will expose more youngsters to golf and also make the sport more accessible to them.”
As for her future plans, the go-getter has her eyes set on the Asian Games. “My goal for 2022 year is to break into the top 50-100 in the world and win a gold at the Asian Games in China, that will be held in September 2022,” she signs off.
- Follow Avani Prashanth on Instagram