GOLF? Journey of golf is now over 6 centuries old since it originated in Scotland! The modern game of Golf is considered meditating as each player plays with himself and his own ball and the game is simultaneously competing with teams! The Golfers are always with nature; they are greatly human, cool and calm. And lucky Rotarians play the great game of golf with their fellow members and friends.

THE TRIGGER ! When Rtn. Parag Sheth was selected as DG [2015-16] for RID 3060, his passion for golf took wings and visualized how a golf fellowship can be initiated. It may be said the saga of golfing in Rotary had started by the Sheth couple [Rtn. Parag and gracious Rtn. Punam] who were in their 10 th year of golfing and had already tasted the virtue of fellowships and fund raising capacity via golf tournaments at his club and at the District levels.

So, coming natural to take golfing forward under Rotary banner, he motivated Rtn. Nishant Ramani and Rtn. Kalpesh Shah both of RC Vadodara Sayajinagari to organize 1 st golf fellowship of Indian Rotarians in Ahmedabad. The dream was a reality when 45 golfers from 9 RIDs participated. It was here that all the golfing participants unanimously resolved to initiate the ‘South Asian Fellowship of Golfing Rotarians’ - with acronym SAFGR.

OBJECTIVE - Indeed, the aim of the programme is to encourage golfing fellowship and organise tournaments among the members of the Rotary clubs, raise funds and utilise the surplus funds generated to support the Rotary Foundation and its activities and other charitable purposes and cement the fellowship and networking further.

FIRST GAME - The Inaugural Tournament [1 st Edition] was played at Bangalore in RID 3190 under the Chairmanship of late Rtn. K. Vijay Kumar [RC Bangalore]. It was a great success going by the scale and enthusiasm shown by Rotarian golfers from all over the India and Bangladesh.

SENIORS’ SUPPORT - With the strong support of PRIP Barry Rasin, PRID Sushil Gupta and Late PRID Yash Pal Das, Past Vice Presidents Rtns. Amarjit Singh and late K. Vijaykumar and other executive members, the fellowship was registered as an Association of Persons [AoP] under relevant laws on 2 nd Nov 2016 as a non-profit purpose organization. The SAFGR adopted its Articles of Association in their Executive Board Meeting on 25 th March, 2017 at Chandigarh under the leadership of late PRID Y P DAS.

GEOGRAPHIES - Thoughtful as they were, besides keeping the mission of raising funds towards the Rotary Foundation [TRF] programs and also support specific projects of the local Rotary Clubs and continue to build Rotary image in the process, SAFGR leadership did think hard to keep their geographies wide [beyond India!] by christening it SAFGR – South Asian Fellowship of Golfing Rotarians for better networking and expanded fellowship!  It included active members from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well.

While Rotarians all over keep inventing ways to engage in the Rotary’s 7 focus areas of service, the SAFGR has since organized many golf tournaments at Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Dhaka, Jamshedpur, Jaipur, Kathmandu, Kodaikanal and many other places. Though innovative in current times, it has held two editions of ‘virtual game’ in member countries when over 567 [1 st edition] and 782 [2 nd edition] golfers participated [not to talk of the funds it raised for the Rotary Foundation].

STRENGTH - We are proud to say that we have the core team at the helm and regional and city golfing Rotarians to promote fellowship in the South Asia region and beyond. As on 30 th Sept.’21, SAFGR has over 330 registered life members covering 45 cities including ones in Bangladesh and Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is increasing steadily.

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION - The R I organized a fundraising event to play golf with Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus, the Rotary worldwide Ambassador of Polio Eradication, at the prestigious Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida, USA on 12 th March 2019. We are proud to say that our Founder Chair Rtn. Parag and Rtn. Punam Sheth participated in this fellowship and the single event collected US$ 5.25 million in donations for the cause with only 7 golfers participating.

Friends, SAFGR is affiliated to IGFR [International Golfing Fellowship of Rotarians] based out of Switzerland. In early 2021 the IGFR board had invited Rtn. Parag Sheth to serve as its member effective from 1 st January, 2022 till 31 st December 2024.

The IGFR is regularly organizing annual Golf World Championship. The 56 th Championship was organized at Hamburg, Germany where late PRID Yash Pal Das, Rtns. Punam and Parag had participated. Rtn. Punam was runner up in ‘Partners’ trophy’ and Rtn. Parag was ‘Champion’ in his handicap category.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN INDIA - The camaraderie, commitment and love of the game of SAFGR members are so genuinely deep that their vision kept reaching the moon, horizons went wider, and dreams always saying ‘dil mange more’! The SAFGR’s fund raising activities for the TRF and dedication of its members and bouquet of golfing events over the past nearly 6 years were recognized by IGFR.

So, SAFGR’s bid to hold ‘58 th  IGFR - International World Championship’ in India in Nov. 2022’ was successful to be held in New Delhi. Mid-way to the preparations, in Sept. ’21, Covid played spoilsport worldwide and the prestigious event calendar was totally churned. Now India shall host the same World Championship in 2025. Indeed, the international championship is expected to ensure SAGFR members have the true flavour of international tournaments and experiences of life time to cherish.

SAFGR ACTIVITIES WITHIN - SAFGR has signed an MOU with GolfPlus Monthly Magazine as its media partner. A rotating R I President Cup shall be held in Feb. 2022 which will be played by Rotarians all over the world. We hope to rope in 5000 players from 50 countries playing at nearly 300 golf courses.

Even during the pandemic when most courses were shut, SAFGR thought of innovative programs to stay connected such as ‘know our member’ talks, golfers’ ‘Exchange Program’ on the lines of Rotary Exchange Program. These are but few reasons why a golfer needs SAFGR's hand holding to experience the world!

You are very welcome to SAFGR, Friends!