Veteran professional golfer Rezaul Karim shares his ideas of professional golf, golf teaching and his interaction with India’s famed golfer SSP Chawrasia.
Q: How did you come to golf? Tell us the background story.
A: We used to live in cantonment area. My brother was a caddie at the Kurmitola Golf Club. So I used to come here. I had school friends who worked as ball boys. It was like 30 years ago. So I joined them and worked here as a ball boy. I worked as caddie of general secretary Shawkat Ali Khan at that time. Then I worked at the driving range. I and a couple of other caddies ran the driving range for about ten years. During those times, I used to practice where I picked up the game.
Then Chan Mia took me to Kolkata in 1994 where he participated at the Indian Open. After watching that event, I got inspired and practiced hard. I qualified for an event in Jaipur in 1995. Since then I have played a number of tournaments in India, with financial assistance from a couple of companies and people.
I turned pro in 2001. There used to be only four pros in the country during that time and there used to be only one professional tournament, the Summit Cup. So we used to go to India to play at that time.
Q: Could you imagine at that time that one day there will be so many tournaments in Bangladesh or the facilities that pros are getting now?
A: No, we couldn’t imagine it. When I started as a pro, there used to be around 30 tournaments in India each year, with prize money of five lac rupees or more. Now the lowest prize purse is 40 lac rupees. So in comparison, we are holding a lot of tournaments and with good amount of prize money.
Q: Siddikur Rahman has branded Bangladesh golf. A lot of golfers have been trying to follow his footstep. What is your observation in this regard?
A: During mid-90s, we used to see that most of the good golfers in India used to come from caddies and ball boys, but now sons of golf club members make 65-70% of the golfers. The same will happen here. As the number of tournaments rise, the wealthier people will come to this game and do well. That is because those people are not held back by financial worries while the caddies and ball boys are constrained.
Q: How is your game now?
A: I doing well now. I’m improving my swing through the technologies at the Leadbetter Golf Academy. I train at the academy which helps my game a lot too.
Q: How is the academy helping the golfers?
A: Technology is a big thing in golf nowadays. The improvement that you would make in six months manually, you can make in three months with the help of technologies. It rectifies your mistakes and makes your game more perfect.
Q: What is your plan regarding golf?
A: I want to continue playing for ten more years. Maybe after that I would concentrate on teaching pros.
Q: What does your plan revolve around?
A: My target is to do well in the Asian Tour and Indian Tour events that are held here. I couldn’t do well in the previous three AT events at home. I am focusing on my fitness at the moment.
Q: What do you think is the future of golf in Bangladesh?
A: If the number of tournaments is increased, I believe our golfers can earn a lot of foreign currency. There is no alternative to having numerous tournaments, which automatically improves the skill set of golfers. Players like SSP Chawrasia used to be like us, but due to the opportunities they got with the number of tournaments in India, they took their game to a different level. He used to tell us to spend a whole year in India so that we could improve our game. But it wasn’t possible due to our financial limitations.
Q: You have a son whom you brought to golf. What is your plan regarding him?
A: He is in class VI now. He’s been practicing since he was in class II. His swing is getting better. He wants to be a golfer like Siddikur and wants to play at home and abroad. I will look for a sponsor for him.