As most of you know, I have spent the last 2 weeks in India with my sister, Taylor. So much has happened since I have been here I don't even know where to begin! I was invited to play in an event called the Golden Eagles Golf Tournament which is hosted by Krishnapatnam Port. This is the 3rd year for the event and they have grown in size each year. This year the event was hosted in Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, and Delhi. I was invited to play the Pune and Hyderabad leg of the event.
When I initially got the invitation to play, I didn't have much information other than that I would be participating in the event and the name of my hotel. I had no idea what to expect out of the trip but I was looking forward to the opportunity.
We arrived in Pune after a very, very long trip from Atlanta. The flight/ travel aspect of getting to India is far from an easy trip. I had to get a visa prior to entering the country. Also we went through the numerous baggage checkpoints that are required with connecting flights, as well as customs when we arrived in India. It took almost 2 days to arrive with the time change, so, needless to say we were happy to finally make it on November 8th.
The day we arrived, we decided to rest and unpack. We were staying at the Hyatt Regency in Pune which was great, so we were very comfortable as soon as we got there. On the 9th, we were up early due to jet leg so Taylor and I decided to work out and then explore later in afternoon. We got suggestions from the concierge on where to go and what would be safe for us to do. We were on the way to see a historical fort in Pune that they had suggested, but realized that the culture and environment were much different than we had imagined. I am sure it would have been safe for us but we decided to go back to the hotel until we met up with some staff from the event who could go with us or help us navigate the city.
On Thursday evening, we had dinner with some of the Krishnapatnam Port staff and really enjoyed getting to know more about them, as well as the company. The event in Pune was on Saturday (Nov. 11th). We played a practice round at Oxford Golf Resort, the day before the event, and got to see the course. I did not know how beautiful the golf courses in India would be! The courses are scenic and the hospitality is even better. The event was run impeccably and could not have been any better! KPCL did an unbelievable job hosting us and the event. All the participants were welcomed with food, drinks, a fun atmosphere and so many different activities through out the day. I was on the first hole hitting tee shots for each group that came through. Taylor had not planned to play any golf while in India but as soon as they found out she played golf at Clemson she was put in the event as well! She got to play with some of the KPCL clients and had a great time playing again after 2 years of not touching a club!
Later that evening we went back to the hotel for the reception. The Golden Eagles reception was unlike anything I have ever experienced! Mainly because there was a full on fashion show and I had to be a model! (Yes you saw that correctly...) I had never walked on a runway before. Much less in wings! It was such a fun was to end a great day of golf and even better company. The people I had the privilege to meet were so welcoming and so happy to be a part of the event. Among the amazing people on the KPCL staff, we met Gaby who works head the Marketing in Dubai. She was our host for the week and helped us so much with everything! We have definitely made a friend for life and are so thankful she was able to show us around India.
Myself, Gaby, and Taylor after the fashion show!
So, after the first event finished in Pune, we had one week until the 2nd event in Hyderabad. Taylor and I had so many things we wanted to do in India but due to their location and our lack of knowledge on how to get there or get around, we weren't sure if we would be able to do anything between events. Our hosts gave us the grand tour and made sure we were taken care of. They were generous enough to spend a few days with us, giving us an amazing experience in India!
First, we went just outside of Hyderabad to spend a night at the Taj Falaknuma which is a very historical palace that they have turned into a hotel and beautiful restaurant, while keeping the original design of the palace. We were absolutely in awe of the beauty. When we arrived, they take you from the entrance to the hotel in a horse and carriage so you are truly treated like royalty. The architecture was amazing along with the hospitality, food and accommodations. Gaby is very familiar with Indian food so she ordered for us and we got to try a number of authentic Indian cuisines. We also got to enjoy the spa which was such great experience.
After visiting the Taj Falaknuma in Hyderabad we flew to Dehli and spent the night there. The next morning we got dressed in traditional Indian dress and flew to Agra to see the Taj Mahal! Before coming to India I had dreamed of seeing it in person but since both Pune and Hyderabad are pretty far south I didn't think I would get the chance to see it. We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to not only go but we flew private and were given a private tour.
The Taj Mahal was so beautiful, grander than anything I could have imagined. The architecture, the story behind it, the history and mystique all made it an amazing experience. We went at sunset and were able to see it in such beautiful lighting. There were a lot of people but from what I have heard, unless you go right when it opens at sunrise, there is always a crowd. It was such a magical experience. To see in person something so grand and beautiful truly makes you think about life and all there is to experience.
We flew from Agra back to Delhi that evening. The next morning we got up and played golf at DLF Golf and Country Club which was an incredible experience. It was my favorite course we played while in India. It is very difficult with tight fairways and lots on undulations around the greens but the landscaping and architecture of the course was uncomparable. After our round of golf we sat at the clubhouse at sunset and had food and drinks. In India everything becomes a social event so it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet so many new people. I was overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity everywhere we went. KPCL and the team that runs the Golden Eagles event really went out of their way to make us feel at home and took great care of us.
From Delhi we flew to back to Hyderabad where the 2nd event would be played. We played a practice round on the course Friday before the event. The Hyderabad Golf Course is built within an ancient fort which makes it such a cool experience. As you look around you can see the outline of the fort on the hilltops and to make it more amazing, 14 of the holes are actually built within the fort itself. For the event, I was placed on the 10th hole to hit drives for each group. The event in Hyderabad was much bigger than Pune so there was a morning and afternoon wave. I hit for 26 groups in the morning. All the players were so excited to be a part of this prestigious event; their passion for golf and the KPCL family was so overwhelming.
Later that evening we had another fashion show and prize ceremony to conclude the event. The players were all invited along with some KPCL clients and friends. The evening went so well and it was an incredible experience to be able to walk in the fashion show again. I felt like royalty! Taylor got to walk as well and we were made a big part of the show. Gaby and I walked in the finale as the “Golden Eagles” of the event. It was such an honor and speaks tremendously on the hospitality we have been shown this entire trip. Overall, I feel these life changing experiences I have made me more adaptable, allowing me to be pushed out of my comfort zone and grow on and off the course.
To conclude the Hyderabad leg of the event we were invited to an after party. We spent the night dancing, laughing and having contests on the golf simulator! It was amazing to experience the Indian culture and to be in such a fun and welcoming atmosphere. We were even able to learn some traditional Indian dance moves which we practiced throughout the night. The party was a celebration of the prestigious event and all the hard work that Krishnapatnam Port has put in to making it a huge success.
So, with all that being said….. I have some exciting news!!! I am going BACK TO INDIA next week for the Delhi event. This is the 4th and final event of the 2017 Golden Eagles events. I am so honored KPCL wanted me to come back to participate in the last event. They have become so dear to me in such a short time and I am so thankful to have built this connection with them. India has been amazing and I am excited, honored, humbled and proud to have been given this opportunity! Stay tuned for more to come!