Pro win puts amateur Avani Prashanth on road to bigger laurels

Nursing ambitions of playing at the highest levels in world golf, Avani, a wonderful striker of the ball and a very good putter, on Friday joined an illustrious band of amateurs to break through with a win on the pro circuit on the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour.

V Krishnaswamy February 16, 2021 13:12:48 IST
Pro win puts amateur Avani Prashanth on road to bigger laurels

For a young golfer still well short of her 15th birthday, Avani Prashanth, has already had an eventful journey. From Gurugram to Bangalore to Nigeria and back to Bangalore and in between stints elsewhere in India. She has also played in Europe on courses as famous as Longniddry, one of the famous courses on Scotland’s golfing coastline, and at Pinehurst in the United States.

Nursing ambitions of playing at the highest levels in world golf, Avani, a wonderful striker of the ball and a very good putter, on Friday joined an illustrious band of amateurs to break through with a win on the pro circuit on the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour, where she had played well before but not won. She carded 67-70-67 on the three days to finish two strokes ahead of Women’s Golf Professional Order of Merit leader Amandeep Drall.

In five starts at the HWPGT since the tour restarted in December, Avani has had a T-11, T-10, T-5, and a T-7 finish and now a victory.

Yet, Avani and her father, MS Prashanth, the guiding force behind the young golfer, have a lot of goals to achieve before turning to pro ranks. The Asian Games in 2022, the British Under 16 girls, The R&A Girls Amateur Championship, the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific, Thailand. “There is time for her to grow and learn and play these amateur events,” says Prashanth.

Prashanth added, “Back in 2010, when Avani was just three years and 10 months and I was looking to get my father to play golf, but it happened that my daughter liked and took to the game like a fish to water and she could practice for hours together even at that age”

From then Avani went to Nigeria, where her father’s work took the family. It was here that she won a US Kids qualifying event while just six and got a chance to play in the US Kids European Championship.

During the family’s vacation trips to Bangalore, she used to learn the short game from Vijay Divecha. On the family’s return to Bangalore, in 2014, they restarted under Divecha’s watchful eyes and under Raheem, an IGU certified coach.

“She has since been a regular in playing events at the US KIDS GOLF European and World Championships at Gullane and Pinehurst respectively and has been the best performing Female golfer from India in the 20+ year history of the tournaments with four Top-5 finishes and three Top-3 finishes in both these tournaments,” says Prashanth with pride as he was also her caddy at these tournaments.

From the time the Prashanths were back in India in 2014, she started playing in the Indian Golf Union South Zone and National events and was the Order of Merit leader in South Zone in 2015 and 2017 by winning most of the tournaments she played in and the Order of Merit leader in IGU C Category in 2019.

Around 2017, Prashanth took her to Laurence Brotheridge at Oxford Golf Resort, who has since moved to Leeds just before the pandemic. “We still train with him and send him videos for feedback every week but we also use a GCQUAD launch monitor to keep track of the game and progress.”

“For a girl so young it was not always easy to remember each instruction the coaches suggested. The launch monitor helped,” adds Prashanth, who himself plays the game.

The game apart Prashanth and Avani are also paying attention to other aspects, and he shares, “Avani trains under Deckline Leitao for Fitness and Janki Rajapukar for Mental Conditioning. We know these aspects are vital.”

Avani, a student at Greenwood High School, has not only been a fine sportsperson, but also a good student. And she had another passion – football. “I loved playing football as it made my lower body very strong but have stopped on the advice of my fitness coach since October 2019, for fear of injuries that may affect my golf,” says Avani, who eyes are firmly trained on the ranges, fairways and greens.

The journey has been long, yet it seems it has only just begun.

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