At home across the world [UPDATED]Published 11:17am Friday, August 30, 2013 Updated 11:19am Friday, August 30, 2013
Pebble Lake Golf Course is half a world away from Tony Singh’s home country of India.
But these days, Singh said Fergus Falls feels just as much like home as Punjab.
Singh, who this weekend will be playing in his second Pot O’ Gold tournament, grew up in the town of about 3,000 located close to the Pakistan border. He first came to the United States in 1997 as a professional field hockey player.
It was his experience in field hockey, as well as family ties, that first got him interested in golf. His cousin, Gagnjit Buller, is a professional golfer, playing on the Asian and European tours and qualifying for the British Open in 2010.
“The swings are similar,” Singh said. “But with field hockey, you can only play until you’re 25 or 30. Golf, you can play a long time.”
He has owned the Motel 7 in Fergus Falls with his wife, Harjit, and two children since moving here in 2010. Before moving to Fergus Falls, he lived in California and Milwaukee but has adapted to the smaller size of his current town, which is much closer to the size of Punjab.
“I feel very comfortable here,” Singh said.
On the course, Singh will again pair with Lance Walvatne in the Pot O’ Gold tournament beginning Aug. 31 at Pebble Lake Golf Course. Singh and Walvatne were previously partners in the 2011 tournament.
“I look forward to this every year, it’s competitive no matter who you play,” said Walvatne, who will be playing in his sixth Pot O’ Gold tournament this year.
Both the Pot O’ Gold and Labor Day Classic tournaments are exclusive to club members. Sixty-four players are paired together and seeded based on their handicaps, with the top 32 playing in the Pot O’ Gold and the other 32 playing in the Labor Day Classic, which begins on Sep. 1.
Pebble Lake Golf Club head professional Ryan Tungseth said the club’s Open Championship is also a big yearly event, but the Pot O’ Gold holds a special place in the community.
“I’d put this one up there as the biggest one for members,” Tungseth said.
This year, Singh and Walvatne open with a matchup against Adam Evavold and Pat Shol. Singh and Walvatne’s combined handicap is 7, good for the fifth seed.
Singh said he and Walvatne make for good partners because they have complementary strengths on the course. Singh said he is best at chipping and putting, and his strong short game works well with Walvatne’s abilities off the tee.
Walvatne said he and Singh, who met three years ago, do not socialize off the course or away from the club. But are certainly good golf buddies, running into each other frequently when playing a round. Both men said they enjoy having the other as a partner, both for golf and personal reasons.
“I feel that he’s a good person and he helps me a lot when I play,” Singh said.
The Pot O’ Gold tournament runs through the weekend and wraps up Sep. 2. Last year’s winners, Brian Shuck and John Hatling, will be in different pairings this year, so the tournament is guaranteed to have a new championship duo.