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Golf craze — an inevitable business opportunity

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While cricket is already a passion for most, the country has many who empathise with and indulge in the profligate experience of golf.

It is evident from the fact that Greg Norman Collection, a subsidiary of MacGregor Golf Company and a leading worldwide golf lifestyle apparel and accessories brand, has opened its first exclusive brand store in Gurgaon, and Johnnie Walker announced Asia’s longest-running luxury golf experience Johnnie Walker Classic 2008 to be hosted in New Delhi, which is a first for India.

Though the launch of the collection and the announcement of the event are a coincidence, they do have one thing in common – the name Greg Norman, who happens to be a Johnnie Walker Classic winner.

Both the happenings indicate the mounting craze for golf in the country, which automatically will boost the retail of golf accessories and other elements related to the game.

“Sports lifestyle industry is growing in our country by leaps and bounds. There are a couple of international sports brands in the country, but there are very few available in an exclusive speciality retail environment. Greg Norman Collection will make ripples in this segment,” said Rahul Singh, CEO, Greg Norman Collection, India.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, unveiled the fall/winter ’07 Greg Norman Collection, and said, “Being a golf lover and an ardent fan of Greg Norman myself, I feel the collection will address the requirements of fashion-conscious golfers and will be successful in carving a niche for itself in the Indian market.” The entire range of fall/winter ‘07 line – Essentials, Playdry Performance and Fashion – is for men and women, and will be available at its first exclusive brand store.

“The brand has done exceedingly well in other parts of the world. It retails in over 21 countries and we are confident that it will be an instant success in India as well, especially due to the uniqueness of the brand concept, besides a large assortment of compelling products,” said Singh.

Johnnie Walker Classic 2008 – scheduled next year, from February 28 to March 2 – will be held at the DLF Golf & Country Club, Delhi.

“The decision to hold the event in India for the first time means we will be further adding to the magnificent history of one of Asia’s most established, celebrated and popular golf events,” commented Ben Anderson, Global Brand Director for Johnnie Walker.

To add on to the enthusiasm of golf fans, Vijay Singh, world number 12 and former US Masters and US PGA Champion, will be making his fourth appearance in the tournament.

Past winners of the event include Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Ian Woosnam, Retief Goosen and Adam Scott.

“The Johnnie Walker Classic is not just a mega sporting event, but also an occasion for entertainment and luxurious indulgence,” said Asif Adil, managing director, Diageo India.

With rising economy, better standards of living, and greater indulgence in lifestyle essentials, the country is bound to see more such extravagant games – and alongside, propelling the business of the products related to them, liquor brands being no exception.

— Ranjan Kaplish

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