Rajiv Gerela, Vice President, Deutsche Bank, talks about how a chance invite introduced him to his passion. By Pooja Paryani
For the last 27 years, there’s been one passion defining Rajiv Gerela’s waking moments—IT. But in the last three years another passion has been introduced and it’s poised to take over most of his free time—golf. “One day a friend invited me to play golf,” says Rajiv. “I decided to see how the game is played, learn its basics and techniques if it seemed interesting. An introduction lead to an addiction in no time! Over the last three years I have become so hooked that I try to play on all weekends and don’t miss an opportunity to play. Once I was invited to IIM Shillong to participate in a competition and I said yes without a second thought. Soon my office is going to shift to Pune and the best part about it is that there’s a golf course right opposite the office! It’ll be great to get to play every day.”
Golf is a great networking sport
“Once I got into the game I realised that many of my peers were passionate about it too. So we formed a CXO group, and whenever our schedules permit we meet up and play a game. It’s a great networking opportunity with professionals from different domains. So a game becomes a mix of entertainment and networking.
“Thanks to golf I’ve made a lot of friends and the list keep getting bigger ever time I hit the course. Golf can be played alone, but it’s much more fun in a group. Every Saturday we send out messages on WhatsApp to know who all will be joining us for golf. We then meet up, have tea and head out on the greens. Competing together makes it a fun-filled morning and we then step out for breakfast to catch up. We discuss everything from current affairs to IT developments and personal news. Golf has given me new friends as well as peers with whom I can share my love for technology. All of us really look forward to playing together and don’t like missing out on any of the get-togethers.”
A way to bond with family
“In time my family has also picked up my passion for golf. My wife wanted to see how the game is played. She ended up liking it so much that she wants to join me every time I go to the course and play with me! Even my kids have gotten interested in the game and want to join me. So some weekends I play with my family as it turns into a fun family get-together and a chance for us to bond. I’ve had a shoulder injury the last few months and my family is impatient for me to recover and play with them!”
Basics of the game
“Golf is played on a golf course which has a series of holes; most courses have 18 holes. It starts off from the ‘tee off point’ or ‘tee box’ from where you use your golf club to hit the ball towards the hole. The ultimate goal is to land the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. You do need some training in techniques, etc. But once you know the basics the best way ahead is to keep practising. The more you play the more you learn. When you play in a group you also learn from others and they can also point out your mistakes. When you’re playing you can’t see yourself, but others can, and their feedback on your posture, technique and shots is valuable. This is how you learn and improve with every game.
“In a game you typically have to fill 18 holes in about four hours, and in 72 strokes. When you go over 72 strokes, the gap in the increase in numbers in called a handicap. Depending on that difference in numbers you have to improve to reach at least 72 strokes. So my gap has been 20-22 as I have not been able to play regularly. Other friends have improved well; one has even reached the handicapped level of nine, which is very good for a non-professional. So we have been encouraging him to do better and participate in semi-pro level competitions.”
A fun sporting option for all
“Golf is a great sport even for those who are not physically active. You can play it all day without getting tired, and actually find it pleasurable. I’ve even seen people in their 90s playing this sport with comfort. You just need a passion for the sport, which might turn into an addiction and not let you leave the course for years! Golf is also a great stress buster for me. Given my busy work life, playing golf is a must for me to calm my mind.”