Photographs by Hector Gutierrez
"In the spring of 2013, I got a very surprising call from Saptak. He had attended a coaching session from one of the coaches from IJGA, South Carolina, who had presented the opportunity for him to finish his high-school in the USA, while playing competitive golf. He was ecstatic, and convinced that this needed to be his next move. That was the beginning of a journey that would change his path. Saptak has always been a man of character. One of the moments that makes me the most proud of him, was at the regional conference in Florida last year. It was the last round and the play-offs, Saptak’s ball was tucked in the deep bunker. While taking his stance, he noticed a bit of movement in the ball. Even though nobody in the gallery was able to notice this, he immediately announced to the referee, which costed him a two-stroke penalty. His unwavering ethics and determination towards his goal is inspiring and I hope to see him win a major one day."
– Aasavri Talwar
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TRAILBLAZER?
When I was first asked if I wanted to be featured on this issue as a trailblazer, I was taken back (in a good sense). I obviously never thought of myself as an accomplished person or as having achieved anything in life. I’m only 20 so…However, the fact that someone else thought of me as being worthy of being called a trailblazer instills some sort of confidence and belief in me. It is a complete honor when someone else thinks of you as being a pioneer and a fearless individual. There is, of course, an added pressure and responsibility to live up to those standards, but I think of that pressure as positive reinforcement.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE NEVER CHANGES?
Growth. I hope people never stop wanting to grow. It is so important for people to intrinsically want to grow. There is nothing that bothers me more than mediocrity so I sincerely hope 50 years down the line, people still have the want and desire to grow and chase the things they believe in.
IF COULD INTERVIEW ANYONE, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Tiger Woods. Would love to get in his brain and see how he thinks his way around the golf course.
WHAT WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU LIVE BY?
I try to tell myself that hard work eventually pays off. I think sometimes we get drowned in the result and forget that it’s the process that really shapes us. Yes, I want to be the best golfer in the world but it’s the drive and the motivation to get there that will teach me how to sustain it and stay the world no. 1 once I get there. Every single encounter in life, every incident, every hour of practice, will end up paying off.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CREATOR? HOW DO YOU MANIFEST YOUR CREATIVITY?
For me, being a creator and manifesting your creativity is very important. I think everyone has one thing where they are exceptionally good at and it is just a matter of cultivating it and honing that skill. One of the biggest hurdles of being a creator is getting past the stigma of society. I think society rejects any new changes that are brought about so it is extremely hard to grow in such a negative atmosphere. This is where the quality of perseverance comes in. One must have a vision and have immense amount of self belief and grit if they want to have any sort of success in their life. Learning to take criticism is also another component that i think people lack sometimes. The “know it all” attitude that we as a community have is not encouraging the creativity in anyone’s head.
THIS WORLD NEEDS MORE:
Humble people. We’ve got way too many cocky, overconfident, arrogant people. We need more people to listen to others. I find it very interesting when we’re sitting in a group of 8-10 people and the guy who doesn’t contribute a lot to the discussion is usually the one who’s gonna get the most out of it. It’s because he listens to every opinion and then throws out his opinion in a very subtle way. If there is anything golf teaches you it's how to be humble. One moment you’re in the middle of the fairway and the next you’re in the middle of the trees two fairways away with a pond in the middle.
HOW DID SACRED HEART SHAPE YOUR CAREER AND PURPOSE?
I always knew I wanted to play professional golf, but the recruiting process wasn’t really the kind I had envisioned for myself. One day I was talking to a lot of coaches around the country and the next day SHU was my only option. So, in some sense I am grateful for SHU because it was there when no one else was willing to give me a roster spot. However, another thing it has taught me is grit and perseverance.
The kind of weather we face in the northeast is not ideal for golf, to say the least. It taught me how to overcome adversity. Cold, rainy winter days don’t really help in giving you any motivation to go for a 7 am practice. But knowing that I can practice in such tough conditions is a blessing in disguise because if I ever face a cold day playing golf later on in my life, the credit will go to Sacred Heart for teaching me to hone that skill.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?
My dad always told me to meditate and I always just shunned the idea of it up until recently. It’s true when they say, “you never understand the true importance of something until you lose it.” That applied to my mental peace. I was so burnt out with golf recently because I hadn't taken time off since March and I had not gone home (home as in India) since January that every little thing started to put me off. I was homesick, I missed the food from home, I wasn’t enjoying golf but we were still in season. All this started to add up and I was getting more short tempered than usual. I spoke to my dad and he told me I needed to meditate to find some peace and the difference I saw in less than 8 hours was incredible. I went from glass half-empty to half-full real soon. It is actually funny how much you can get done in twenty-four hours if you simply change your attitude about the day.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE OR CAREER?
Final Round of the NEC Conference Championships this past year. I had already won the individual title the year prior and I had a 3 shot lead going into the last day. I was in good shape and excited to get the round going. I eventually ended up losing by like 5 and I was utterly disgusted with myself. I threw away such a big lead away and it was eating my from the inside. The flight back from FL was only 2 hours but it felt like a lifetime because I felt like I let everyone around me down. I was so disappointed in myself. But why was it the biggest moment in my life? Because before we landed, I turned the table around and told myself that I would come out stronger. I told myself to learn from this experience and to never let it happen again. From feeling so dejected and disappointed in myself, within hours I turned it into feeling motivated and inspired.