Tour-Pro Eats

Shub­hankar Sharma is the rare veg­e­tar­ian tour pro

Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - —keely levins

Shub­hankar Sharma is the rare veg­e­tar­ian tour pro. BY KEELY LEVINS

In the stats- ob­sessed world of pro­fes­sional golf— where you can find out, say, which play­ers hit the best ap­proach shots from the right rough ver­sus the left rough—there doesn’t seem to be any data on play­ers’ diets. If there were, Shub­hankar Sharma would be one of only a few veg­e­tar­i­ans.

“I’ve never eaten meat in my life,” says Sharma, 21, who grew up in In­dia. “My whole fam­ily is veg­e­tar­ian. It’s a re­li­gious choice.”

It doesn’t seem to be hurt­ing his game. Sharma has won twice on the Euro­pean Tour since De­cem­ber 2017, and he tied for ninth at the World Golf Cham­pi­onship in Mex­ico City in March, where he played in the fi­nal group with Phil Mick­el­son. He has rock­eted to No. 66 in the World Golf Rank­ings and earned a spe­cial in­vi­ta­tion to the Mas­ters.

Still, stick­ing to a veg­e­tar- ian rou­tine hasn’t al­ways been sim­ple. “I def­i­nitely strug­gled in my first year on tour, try­ing to fig­ure out the travel with my diet,” Sharma says. “Not all the places we go un­der­stand. I’ll say, ‘I don’t eat chicken or meat,’ but I’ll still get a plate of food with meat in it. But the Euro­pean Tour has been great in help­ing me get the food that I need. I’ve also got­ten smarter about it. I travel with prepre­pared veg­e­tar­ian meals, so if I find my­self in a sit­u­a­tion where I don’t have any veg­e­tar­ian op­tions, I can just pop one of them in the mi­crowave and I’m all set.”

Be­yond be­ing veg­e­tar­ian, he’s also al­ler­gic to gluten, which makes trav­el­ing in Europe dif­fi­cult, too. Rice is a sta­ple of his diet when he’s home. He says he could eat curry and rice three times a day, 365 days a year and be happy. But in Europe, Sharma found lit­tle rice, and a lot of cheese and bread.

Sharma works with a nu­tri­tion­ist to make sure he’s get­ting enough pro­tein in his diet. He makes a pro­tein shake in the morn­ing and even­ing, and he’s sure to re­plen­ish his sys­tem with high-nu­tri­ent veg­eta­bles af­ter rounds. “Spinach and broc­coli are two of the most im­por­tant,” Sharma says. “I eat as much broc­coli as I can get my hands on.”

The son of an army colonel, Sharma got into golf in a round­about way. His mother’s ob­ste­tri­cian hap­pened to be Tushar Lahiri, father of cel­e­brated In­dian golf pro Anir­ban Lahiri. Lahiri en­cour­aged Sharma’s dad to bring him to the course. No one in Sharma’s fam­ily had played golf. He took to it quickly and less than 10 years later, he turned pro at 16, join­ing the Asian De­vel­op­ment Tour.

The golf course, Sharma says, is ac­tu­ally one of the eas­i­est places to be a veg­e­tar­ian. “I munch on dried fruits all day. Bananas are great, and en­ergy bars are high in pro­tein.”

One of the ben­e­fits for Sharma of be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian is that he has learned to un­der­stand what his body needs to per­form at its best. “Be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian isn’t for ev­ery­one, but you should take the time to fig­ure out what makes your body work its best. Pay at­ten­tion to what you eat and how your body re­acts to it. Your body will let you know if you’re fu­el­ing it with things that it doesn’t want. You’ll feel your­self get tired and slow­ing down and not think­ing as clearly when you’re not eat­ing well.”

The best part about be­ing a trav­el­ing veg­e­tar­ian? Un­like some of his fel­low tour pros, he says, he has never got­ten food poi­son­ing.

veg­gie tales: Sharma’s first year on tour was a di­etary chal­lenge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.