Monday, April 01, 2013

Bull's eye!

US-based professional, George Philip George, who has represented the United States of America in cricket, had a big achievement in another sport recently: he scored a hole in one in golf

By Shevlin Sebastian

At 11 a.m. on March 12, George Philip George was at the Delhi Golf Club. It was a bright and sunny day: blue skies, with an occasional white cloud passing by. The US-based professional, who has his home in Kochi, stood at the tee to take a shot. He decided to use a seven iron because the distance was over 160 yards. “I wanted the ball to land at 150 yards and let it roll on,” he says. There was a slight breeze, from left to right.

As George stood looking at the green, he noticed a large tree on one side. “I knew it was imperative that I did not hit the tree,” he says. George stood still. Then he swung the iron, and hit the ball cleanly. “I saw the ball heading towards the tree, and thought, 'I have goofed it',” he says. “But at the last moment, it curved away and went in a straight line and landed on the edge of the green.... and kept rolling.”

The caddie Shiv Kumar said, “Sir, it looks like a hole in one!”

George said, “No. It is impossible!” But the ball just rolled on and on and, suddenly, it disappeared into the hole. The golfer and the caddie jumped up, yelled at the top of their voices, and embraced each other. For many golfers, it is a lifelong pursuit to score a hole in one. For a non-professional the statistical ratio is 1 in 12,500 attempts.

I was shocked,” says George. “Shiv was even more excited. He had been playing for years and had never scored a hole in one.”

Later, the club president presented George with a hole-in-one trophy. What was most remarkable was that George started playing golf only two years ago. Before that, he played tennis and cricket. In fact, so good was George at being a fast bowler that he was selected to play for the United States cricket team.

The cool thing about American cricket is that people from different countries come to play together,” he says. “So, in our team, there were West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans.”

It was a multi-cultural group and each player had his own style, which he had developed by playing in his home country. For example, the West Indian style is free and spirited, while the Pakistanis are aggressive and natural players. "Like the Indians, they don’t play textbook cricket,” he says. 

George played for the USA when it toured the West Indies for friendly matches in the early 2000s.

But now, in his forties, George was looking for a sport which did not place too many physical demands on him. And, thanks to a friend, he stumbled on to golf.

Golf is an obsession,” says George. “The right technique and constant practice makes you a good player. You are also competing against yourself. The calmer your mind, the better you play.”

George believes strongly in the mind-body balance. “I work a lot and anytime I get a chance to unwind I play tennis or golf,” he says. “I believe in balance. I don't think one should just work and work. Life is a journey and you get one chance to live it.”

Not surprisingly, George is a mix of brain and brawn. He did his MBA at the University of North Carolina as well as from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thereafter, he worked for several years in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry. Today, he is the CEO of, a firm that stimulates high-performance growth in many companies with the help of world-renowned scholars, through an online presence. “We offer training and teamwork solutions to people in 72 countries,” says George.

George, who has a keen sense of international business, says that the USA and China have become superpowers due to an enormous capacity for hard work and a pride in their country. In contrast, we lack a pan Indian attitude. "When two Indians meet abroad, they invariably ask from which part of India one is," he says. "So, one is classified either as a north or a south Indian. This can be a drawback. But an Indian’s great gift is that he is enterprising, hard-working and creative. Because of this, Indians will become world-beaters one day.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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