Diksha Dagar will be heading to the Asian Games as India’s number one amateur player but she could shelve her amateur status soon.
For the student of class 12, this year is an important one, not just due to her association with the Asian Games or her academics, but also because she’s on the cusp of making a major career choice.
Dagar, born with a hearing impairment, has won several amateur tournaments in the country and abroad, and has been shooting a range of low scores, according to her own admission. “There are no nerves heading into the Asian Games. It’s like any other tournament for me,” she says.
The 17-year-old left-handed golfer is in the middle of a run which saw her win the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open and post a commendable performance at the Queen Sikrit Cup at Malaysia, leading on day one and posting the lowest ever score by an Indian in the tournament, totalling four-under and ensuring the Indian team finished sixth overall.
The golf course at the Asian Games will be difficult though. “I have played there before at the Indonesian Open. The course there is narrow, it has a lot of bunkers and conditions are windy. On top of that, there are several undulations and fast greens. I have to be mentally prepared for that,” says Dagar.
A native of Jhajjar in Haryana, her father Colonel Narinder Dagar was an golfing hobbyist and took her to the army course in New Delhi often, which is where she undergoes training till this day.
“She was always interested in sports and has played tennis among other sports. With the access I had to army golf courses, it was easy for her to pick up the game. It has been a very encouraging journey so far,” says father Narinder.
Having started playing on the amateur circuit in 2012, India’s number one amateur, however, has a decision to make once she finishes school: pursue higher education on a sports scholarship in the United States or turn pro.
Father Narinder states that the decision will depend on results on the course. “She has a lot of tournaments lined up. The Asian Games, the World Amateur Championships and the Indian Women’s Open. We will take a decision at the end of the season on whether to turn pro or go to the US. She will only go if she receives a [sports] scholarship.”
A major step for Diksha came at the Women’s Pro Golf event at the DLF Classic Golf and Country Club in New Delhi, where she shot three under-par rounds to win by 11 strokes.
However, the biggest and the most significant tournament for her will arguably be the qualifying school (Q-School) for the Ladies’ European Tour at the end of the year. It is on the LET that Aditi Ashok finished second in 2016.
Dagar says Shubhankar Sharma and Aditi Ashok doing well is a good sign for Indian golf. “Yes, she played well on the LET. I watched Shubhankar Sharma as well. He played very well in the first round [of the PGA Championships]. He was two-under through 17 [holes] but finished with a one-under,” she adds.
For Dagar, qualifying for the LET will provide more vindication of the decision to turn pro. With four tournaments lined up and possibly more, Diksha Dagar heads to the Asian Games in a year where she must make a major career decision.