Uplifting golfing tale of determined Nepalese youngster

1 April 2015

Kathmandu, Nepal (April 1): More than 1,000 boys and girls enjoyed the privilege of participating in the record-breaking 2014-15 Faldo Series Asia [FSA] season.

Supported by The R&A and Mission Hills, the ninth FSA campaign stretched over 11 months and was made up of 19 championships in no fewer than 16 countries.

“It was another memorable season during which we not only witnessed a tremendously high quality of play from some of the ‘senior’ players, but also saw many new and fresh faces,” said Sir Nick Faldo, six-time Major championship winner and mastermind behind what is recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls.

The Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006. Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. 

Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both of whom have gone on to win multiple Major titles as well as soaring to number one in the world ranking.

Inevitably, much of the Faldo Series focus falls on the national and regional winners. However, as Binod Tamang has proved, the Faldo Series represents so much more.

The mere fact that he was able to line up in the third edition of the Faldo Series Nepal Championship last December is also testament to support from The R&A, the Nepal Golf Association [NGA] and the Royal Nepal Golf Club [RNGC].

Now approaching his 11th birthday, Binod’s story is as remarkable as it is uplifting.

Standing barely four-feet tall and weighing in at less than 35 kilograms, it was in early 2013 that Binod turned up at the RNGC, seeking work as a caddie.

Rejected for being too small, it emerged that Binod was in need of work to earn money to assist his mother in order for him to attend school.

Moved by the boy’s spirit and determination, members of the RNGC, led by club captain Tashi Ghale, also the Secretary-General of the NGA, agreed to assist by paying the US$12 monthly school fees.

A deal was struck whereby Binod was allowed to collect balls at the driving range in the evenings and at weekends on the premise that he went to school in the day. His school reports are frequently monitored by the club.

With word spreading of Binod’s situation among RNGC members, he was also given some playing privileges.

Such was the promise he showed that he was included in The R&A sponsored camps that Australian coach Kim Baldwin has been conducting in Kathmandu since late 2013.

“Binod’s enthusiasm and determination is infectious to the other young players around him. He can’t wait to play his next shot,” said Baldwin, who is based in Singapore.

Playing with a set of clubs donated by The R&A and attired in apparel also provided by the Scotland-based organisation, Binod received advice and instruction and was recorded on Baldwin’s TrackMan.

Lining up against elder and more experienced players, Binod improbably secured a place in the Faldo Series Nepal Championship by finishing runner-up in an Under-16 qualifier at RNGC.

In the final off the blue tees at Gokarna Forest Resort, measuring 6,500 yards, Binod performed admirably, recording rounds of 92 and 97 and finishing eighth out of 12.

Baldwin said: “This is a great example of what The R&A’s support can do. Thanks to The R&A, the NGA and RNGC, golf has been able to give this young lad an immeasurable opportunity to improve his life.”

Dominic Wall, Director Asia-Pacific for The R&A, said: “The R&A is committed to encouraging the playing of golf globally.

“In recent years, a great deal of effort has been focused on financing golf development in countries where the game is a relatively new sport. Grass-roots initiatives have been supported in countries as diverse as the Falkland Islands, Cambodia, Nepal and the Cook Islands, 

“The aim is simple: to encourage more people to play golf in more places, more often.”

Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “My main reason for starting the Faldo Series was to try and give something back to the game that has given me so much.

“This is the time for golf on all levels to be looked at as a truly global sport with global opportunity and possibility. We remain focused on developing the Faldo Series in more countries and introducing the lessons and opportunity of this sport through elite junior amateur competition along with grass-roots introduction to golfers on all levels.

“It’s been uplifting to see the progress that has been made by Nepalese players in the three years since we launched the Faldo Series Nepal Championship.

“I’m looking forward to seeing that upward trend continue. It would be wonderful one day to be able to crown a home-grown Nepalese as the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final champion.”