Girls made for golf | Sunday Observer

Girls made for golf

The Balasuriya girls Taniya (right) and Sherin (Pic by Sulochana Gamage)
The Balasuriya girls Taniya (right) and Sherin (Pic by Sulochana Gamage)

Taniya Balasuriya can soon become a household name in the game of golf in Sri Lanka while she has made it a habit of winning in junior golf tournaments regularly for the past five years.

When she started playing in a junior open golf tournament as a 12-year old, she had to compete among the boys too as the Golf Union did not conduct tournaments for boys and girls separately. Yet she would beat the boys and win tournaments in the early days and that was the time when she took part in the under-11 age category.

Even after that she had to play in the under-15 age category and beat the boys as well to win in her division.

In the latest tournament, the NDB Wealth golf showpiece, Taniya won the individual girls event with a gross score of 34 which was the same score obtained by the boys winner Nirekh Tejwani. He younger sister Sherin Balasuriya finished second with a gross score of 37.

The Balasuriyas live in Rajagiriya and in their neighborhood lived some golf caddies who told their father Asitha, about a paper advertisement that the Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) would conduct coaching classes for young children free of charge. That made Asitha to take his two daughters for the golf classes conducted by Jehan de Saram.

Taniya was nearly 11 years then and the game caught up with her in a short time as she began playing well from the start and continued to attend practices regularly.

She won a trophy in her first year in a tournament, that too by beating the boys. This system went on for three years and she kept beating the boys to win in her division. It has now become much easier for Taniya as the tournaments are held for boys and girls separately.

Taniya’s father Asitha lives a modest life at Rajagiriya as a mobile fish vendor who starts his day early with a visit to the main market at Peliyagoda and then takes the two girls to school before going about his business.

Taniya is now 17 years old and having done her GCE O/Level exam last year she has taken to golf full time and attends morning practices under the guidance of Jehan de Saram.

Taniya plays 18 holes and has obtained a four under par score which is a very good achievement for a young girl but her determination to improve in the game is boundless and she hopes to turn professional very soon.

Asitha agrees that with a little more help from the Golf Union she can turn professional.

The last time Taniya won a tournament was last week in the Junior Open and this is the fifth year in a row that she has won this title.

Younger sister Sherin was the runner-up in this tournament and is just 14 years old and attends school at Sri Jayewardenapura Balika Vidyalaya. She practices in the afternoons and the best score she has attained over 14 holes is two over par.