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Even Golf Is Booming In Bangalore
RICK LIPSEY
May 28, 2007
Having started from scratch, the game is catching on among the upwardly mobile citizens of the city that's synonymous with India's economic ascendancy
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May 28, 2007

Even Golf Is Booming In Bangalore

Having started from scratch, the game is catching on among the upwardly mobile citizens of the city that's synonymous with India's economic ascendancy

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"How did the club pay for that?" I wonder.

"We offered 15 corporate memberships at $50,000 each," says Rao. "They sold out immediately."

"How often do you use the lights?"

"Never," says Rao.

"Why not?"

"The airport authority hasn't given permission," Rao says. "They think it's unsafe because we're right next to the airport. But a lot of the pilots are golfers, so we're working out that issue."

I thought i had seen the world's most hellacious road while driving into Bangalore from the airport. Then Kanishka Saran drives me and his father, Amit, to Amit's driving range. The last five miles are two lanes of mud littered with boulders, trees, garbage and potholes. "Forgive the appearance," says Kanishka. "We just had our wettest month ever--more than 20 inches of rain."

Kanishka, an energetic and soft-spoken 26-year-old, is one of only two golf equipment sales reps in India. Kanishka, who got an M.B.A. from the prestigious International Management Institute in Delhi, and the other rep work for TaylorMade. Kanishka and his partner, who are based in New Delhi, had $900,000 in sales in their first year, 2004. They grossed $2 million in '05 and more than $3 million last year. "The growth potential is a salesman's dream," says Kanishka.

In contrast, Amit's range business is struggling. His range has 22 bays covered by a thatched roof and a lush grass landing area, but so far only 180 golfers have paid the $115 annual fee for an unlimited number of balls. "Does golf really have a future in India?" I ask Amit.

"There it is," he says, pointing toward his son, who's talking to two potbellied men a few bays away. The men are hitting balls with rusty old clubs, but Kanishka quickly persuades them to try new TaylorMade irons. Suddenly, Kanishka hurries to his car and returns with his briefcase. Each man buys a $600 set of irons.

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