Published on February 27, 2018

Nellan’s Indian Odyssey

Malaysia’s veteran wanderer finds nirvana in New Delhi

Life as a golf professional can be a celebration of life itself. Ask veteran pro V. Nellan, and he will probably tell you why.

At 68, while some may feel it’s time to sit in their rocking chairs, Nellan feels right at home on the golf courses and driving ranges preaching the golf gospel.

In recent years, he has become Malaysia’s veteran golfing nomad, travelling to Sabah and Sarawak frequently and different parts of the world.

It’s not as if he’s burning up his life savings with these trips, but in fact, is being sponsored by groups of golfers who value his homespun homily of golf instruction.

“Recently a group of Indian visitors who took lessons from me at Saujana (where he remains the club’s touring pro) invited me to New Delhi to help teach some beginners and juniors,” he said.

There he noticed the Indian golf revolutions taking place – packed driving ranges full of kids eager to hone their playing skills. He played in two top golf course, JP Greens and the International Tobacco Company course during his three-week sojourn.

But the surprise came when his backers sponsored a memorable side-trip to Agra, site of the majestic Taj Mahal, one of the world’s seven wonders.

Not many people can say they shared a lesson with crooner Engelbert Humperdinck or caddied for Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister and Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister.

As a teaching pro he has held teaching positions at Kelab Golf Negara Subang, Tasik Utara Golf Club (Now known as Johor Golf Club) and the Seremban International Golf Club.

In his playing career, several achievements stand out, among them — representing Malaysia in two World Cups and his two tournament victories in the Tasek Cement Matchplay and the Malaysian PGA Championship.

In 1976 he represented Malaysia with Zainal Abidin Yusof at the World Cup in Palm Springs, California, USA.

“We finished 32nd, but it was a fantastic experience for me, meeting players from different countries like South Africa and Brazil.”

The following year he partnered Bobby Lim, forming a famous alliance. The duo performed admirably at Manila’s renowned Wack Wack course placing 11th in the team standings, the best result for the country then. Meanwhile, Bobby finished 11th in the individual standings.

“It was a fantastic experience. Playing in the tournament was Seve Ballesteros, Canada’s George Knudson, Japan’s Seiichi Kanai, Gary Player and many other famous players,” said Nellan.

In the 1985 Tasek Cement Matchplay staged at the Royal Perak Golf Club, he battled past the Yusof brothers, Nazamudin and Sahabudin in the early stages before meeting Barie Bluah for the 36-hole matchplay final.

“I was three shots behind at one stage and then fought back to be even at 17. Then he put his ball out of bounds, and I won,” recalled Nellan.

In 2018, Nellan plans to return to New Delhi to give a few more lessons in February. In June or July, another group of friends want him to travel all the way to North Carolina, USA all in the name of, what else? Golf.