Honey Baisoya was five when he first swung the golf club. Oddly enough, it was at the football ground in Delhi’s Thyagraj Stadium. Ravinder Singh, his father and a golf-crazy caddie at Delhi Golf Club (DGC), would challenge him to clear the fence. The prize money was Re 1. Regardless, Baisoya would turn up every day trying to swing harder than ever, until two years later, he was allowed to play in DGC as part of their support programme for caddies.
On the opening day of the Hero Indian Open, the boy who once played golf on the football field emerged as the unexpected leader of the Indian pack, ending the day in second place with six-under 66. Baisoya, in fact, led for the better part of the day before Germany’s Yannik Paul went on a birdie blitz and took the pole position with a seven-under 65.
“My destiny was decided even before I was born. My father wanted to be a professional golfer but he could never fulfill his dream. He decided his first born will be a golfer. There was no other choice for me,” the 26-year-old said.
“I was always focussed on becoming a professional even when I was playing in the junior circuit. I was winning D, C, and A category tournaments, so I was into competitive golf fairly early.” So much so that Shubhankar Sharma and Manu Gandas, the flagbearers of the current lot, would often joke that they were always competing for the second position. The top spot would inevitably go to Baisoya.
Baisoya and Sharma turned pro in the same year (2013) and Gandas followed suit two years later. Sharma would then leapfrog into the DP World Tour in 2018 and Gandas would join him in 2022.
Baisoya, meanwhile, faded into virtual oblivion. Last year, he had two top-10 finishes in 11 starts on PGTI tour. His last win came 15 months back, and the last five years have yielded only three wins, two of them in consecutive weeks in 2018.
“It was all because of the mindset,” Baisoya reflected. “Initially my target was to only make cuts in PGTI tournaments. My father pressurised me a bit to play a little safe, but now I have decided to play for the win.”
The switch happened only last week during the Asian Tour’s International Series in Doha when Gaganjeet Bhullar advised him to “dream big.”
“I was staying with Gaganjeet Bhullar in Qatar and we were talking about life and retirement, and then he said ‘make your goals bigger, if you are playing in a tournament, play to win.’ So, I think it was a change in mindset which helped,” he said.
Baisoya didn’t have a coach for the better part of his professional career and has only recently hired the services of PGTI pro Deepinder Singh Kullar.
“Till last year, I didn’t know how to play in the wind but now I can play comfortably in the wind. That has made a big difference to my game,” he said. On a windy day when controlling the ball became increasingly difficult, Baisoya was unflappable. He was even eying the course record — Shubhankar’s 8-under — but was held back by the double bogey on the 14th.
That was the only mistake he would make throughout the day. The challenging 16th, 17th and 18th holes had him making par twice and hitting a birdie once before he turned on the heat with five birdies on the front nine.
“I thought I can break the course record which is 8-under, something I would have achieved if not for the double bogey. I was five under in the first nine, so it was achievable. But that’s how the course is; even a single mistake can peg you back,” he said.
“I was putting really well today. The highlight for me was the 16th hole (which he parred) when I was about 49 years to the flag and I made the chip and putt.”
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