Anisha Padukone faces pressure of famous surname

February 15, 2018

GolfAnisha Padukone


PUNE: Having a famous surname could be a good thing. It can also be a bad thing. Anisha Padukone knows it only too well.

“There are good things… and then there are challenges when you have a surname like mine. Challenges mainly because there is not one but two achievers in the family. Not much can be done about it, so you accept it. Of course, I am very proud of my surname,” the 27-year-old says.

Daughter to an All England badminton champion and younger sister to a Bollywood star, Padukone found her calling early on in golf. After picking up the game while visiting a local club in Bangalore with her father at the age of 12, she reached the top-10 in national rankings as an amateur and also represented the country.

It seemed the younger Padukone would carve a niche for herself. But then came the pressure of expectations, mostly from herself, and things began to come off the rails.

“Growing up as a golfer, I had certain goals for myself. By the time I was 23-25, I realised I was not getting anywhere near to those goals. I reached a stage where I wanted to quit the game,” Padukone, in the city to play the fourth leg of the WGAI tour, said on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to play anymore because I was quite frustrated. There was progress but I wasn’t converting that into tournament scores and rankings.”

The surname weighed heavily on her psyche. The fun slowly went out of the game. “When I look back, I realise, maybe if my surname was something else, I would have been personally happier with my achievements – representing the country and being in the top-10 in amateur rankings. But because of where I come from, I set myself very high standard goals. But when I didn’t reach those goals, I became frustrated,” Padukone said.

Fortunately, her actress sister’s mental health organisation, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, came on at the right time. Launched in 2015 to spread awareness about depression, it allowed Padukone to be one of the directors while also continue playing golf.

Taking the mind away from the game eased the stress, which in turn brought back the joy in the game. “Earlier I was expecting a lot from myself and that puts pressure on every shot, every round. That’s not the reason why I started to play golf,” Padukone said. “I knew that if I am able to continue playing golf, I have to enjoy it the way I did when I started. And that’s the feeling I get now every single day.

Earlier I set very high goals for myself. I wanted to be the best in the world, I wanted to play the LPGA. In the last couple of years, the outlook has changed.”

Padukone, who made her pro debut last year, has hired a new coach and made a few changes. Combined with the changed mindset, she believes she is technically better than before. But she remains guarded about committing to the game she loves 100 percent.

“See, I am at a stage where I can’t see myself too much in the future. I set shorter goals, for six months or one year. I don’t know where I will be five years from now,” she said. “Right now, the only goal is to enjoy every single shot, every round and every tournament I play. So far I am doing that.”

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