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More than a flag: Gupta helping grow the game of golf in India

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2021 NCAA Men's Golf Championship Stillwater Regional, Round 3 Final, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater, OK. Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics

Image Taken at the 2021 NCAA Men's Golf Championship Stillwater Regional, Round 3 Final, Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater, OK. Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics

Aman Gupta was born in the United States, and has always played golf under the American flag throughout his amateur career.

Until one day, Oklahoma State men’s golf coach Alan Bratton and Aman Gupta were talking and it randomly came up. Then fellow Cowboy golfer Rayhan Thomas, who plays under the Indian flag, talked with Gupta about the Asian- Pacific, an amateur event.

“Rayhan on our team was talking about playing (the) Asian Pacific, and just kind of a joke, ‘Like you’re an Indian citizen, maybe you could play?’ Gupta said.

That conversation sparked Gupta’s interest in possibly switching to play under the Indian flag, and representing his family's country. So he inquired about the possibility.

“I reached out to the amateur rankings and was like, ‘Hey, if I wanted to make the switch could I?’ I gave them my documents, and they were like, ‘Yeah, if you want to do it you can do it. You can’t change it back,’” Gupta said.

Gupta went ahead and pulled the trigger on the switch, something he is proud he did. Gupta, from Concord, North Carolina and born in South Carolina, still has family in India, namely his grandparents on his dad’s side who reside in New Delhi.

“I’ve always played under the American flag, but my family and everyone is from India,” Gupta said. “There were a couple of events I found out I could possibly represent India for.

“It would be a shame if I went my whole career never playing for India.”

Golf is a sport that has grown in India, especially in recent years. In the recent Olympics, Aditi Ashok finished just off the podium at fourth place in the world competition. Akshay Bhatia, 19 and a 2019 Walker Cup participant, is also making waves attempting to earn his PGA Tour card.

Gupta said he wants to help grow the game in India.

“People like (Bhatia and Ashok) and like me just helping the game of golf in India is pretty special,” Gupta said. “It’s not a sport that is overly popular in India, obviously golf isn’t the cheapest game to play and a lot can’t afford it.

“I still think there’s a lot of room for growth just being able to play under the Indian flag and competing at the highest level hopefully that inspires younger Indians or Indian-Americans to pick up the game.”

When the switch was finalized Gupta became the top-ranked Indian amateur in the world. If Gupta, the 76th ranked amateur overall, still played under the American flag he would be the 41st ranked American Amateur.

I think that’s huge being able to play for your country,” fellow Cowboy Brian Stark said. “He’ll be the No. 1 ranked Indian player for them. It’s a huge get for India.”