Golden jubilee and still going strong


  • Golf
  • Sunday, 05 Apr 2020

Nellan has more than a few stories to tell and enjoys delivering them.

ONE of Malaysia’s genuine and valiant servants of the game, Vellasamy Nellan, celebrates his golden anniversary as a pro golfer this year.

And to mark the occasion of 50 years being a pro, the 71-year-old is working on a biography that he says should be wrapped up shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic has been put to rest.

In his own words, Nellan says he is “still going strong” and wants to continue to share his knowledge and experiences of the game with the “young and old” who like him have a “serious passion” for the sport.

“Golf is the best game ever. It has consumed me all my life and I am still fortunate enough to be able to teach,” said Nellan, who adds that while he might have packed in playing on Tour 30 years ago, he still travels far and wide from his crib in Kuala Lumpur for it.

Prior to the movement control order (MCO) he has had stints in Kuching, Sarawak and India.

“I have clients there and I make my way to East Malaysia and India when they call on me,” explained Nellan, who started out as a 13-year-old caddie at Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur and played his first Malaysian Open in 1969. His last national Open was in 1989.

Today, Nellan has loads of stories to share but he does enjoy more than most when he speaks of having met some of the legends of our sport and icons of other disciplines.

Among the greats that Nellan came across in his time were Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros.

“I have also had the pleasure to be in the company of (singer) Engelbert Humperdinck and (West Indies cricketer) Sir Garry Sobers,” says Nellan, who remembers a caddies’ championship title in 1967 as his “first tournament win”.

A veteran of two World Cups, Nellan, with Bobby Lim, secured Malaysia’s best finish yet in the tournament. They ended up 11th at Wack Wack Golf & Country Club in Manila, the Philippines in 1977.

Nellan in his heydays and on the cover of Saujana’s Horizon Magazine.Nellan in his heydays and on the cover of Saujana’s Horizon Magazine.

The year prior to that, Nellan and Zainal Abidin finished joint 31st with Sweden at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

On both occasions, Ballesteros was on Spain’s winning team.

Nellan also speaks fondly of having caddied for Malaysian premiers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak, as well as their Singaporean counterpart

Lee Kuan Yew.

He survived the MAS Subang airport disaster of 1983 when a flight from Singapore crashed two kilometers short of the runway. Fortunately, there were no fatalities among the 247 passengers and crew that day.

Nellan, who says he beat colon cancer in 2007, adds that the Malaysian PGA victory in 1987 is among the highlights of his playing career.

And even as he goes about his business at the driving ranges and golf clubs these days (when there’s no Covid-19), he still spreads the word of golf and adds that “maybe more should

be done” to further promote the game.

Now an ambassador of Saujana Golf & Country Club, Nellan says he hoped the biography would have been completed by last month. But because of the circumstances the world finds itself in, he is now looking forward to it being done “as soon as things clear up”.

With a view to helping get the book printed, there is a fund-raising exercise being undertaken. SimplyGiving website has been engaged to accept contributions for the book and well-wishers and fans can visit https://www.simplygiving.com/appeal/nellan-vellasamy-the-legend to make donations.

It certainly is a good cause for the man who has been 50 years a pro, and done himself and his country proud.

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