Mumbai's youth bring golfing spirit to the fore

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The Independent Online

The sport of golf is often associated, in parts of Britain at least, with snooty clubhouses, plus-four trousers and a very delicate on-course etiquette. But in a craze sweeping through Mumbai, these detailed rules are often overlooked.

In urban golf, the variety practised in India's most populous city, the essential equipment consists of a crooked stick and balls, and virtually any area can be used as a course. A collared shirt is not required, and there are never separate bars for gentlemen and ladies at the "19th hole".

A new portfolio of photographs by Tomasz Gudzowaty, shows a group of slum-dwelling boys – some of whom actually work as caddies at a golf club – who started to play golf a few years ago and developed their own variety of the game.

Too poor to afford actual golf clubs and balls, and certainly a long way from securing an exclusive club membership, they have moulded iron rods to resemble golf clubs and use cheap plastic balls bought from toy shops. Apart from this, the golf played by these young men has the same rules as the regular game– except, perhaps, that they are not required to replace divots on the fairway.

As India modernises, the young are increasingly being exposed to Western lifestyles. Sometimes their enthusiasm produces an interesting mix of local traditions and realities with new inspirations.

Golf is not the only Scottish tradition going down a storm in India, especially as her economy gathers pace and her people get richer. The country is one of the world's biggest consumers of whisky, and its distilleries also produce Scotch in huge quantities.