With the recent announcement of Hero MotoCorp expanding its golf portfolio with the sponsorship of the Dubai Desert Classic, Chairman and CEO Dr Pawan Munjal took time out to explain how the company’s connection with the sport all began, while offering some insights into the future

Hero’s association with golf is now well established, including events in India and the one with Tiger Woods in the Bahamas. How did it all begin and what was the inspiration?
Hero MotoCorp has had a long and cherished association with golf. It all started back in 1995 when we sponsored a hole-in-one in an international tournament in India. That was the beginning of a relationship that has gone from strength to strength over the years.
Our association with golf is truly global, as we have been partners of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour), the Ladies European Tour and the Asian Tour in the past. We have been the title sponsors for the Hero Indian Open for the men since 2005 and the women since 2010. Both these events are on their respective European Tours.
What has inspired me over these decades is the growth of the sport in India and indeed across the world. It is truly gratifying to see the young Indian golfers — both men and women — who are now competing globally with remarkable results.
Golf is about patience, a long-term vision, grit, consistency and above all integrity and these are the key traits that are applicable to business and life as well. So when I started playing myself, I could easily instil these qualities which have stood me in good stead over the years.

Having already been involved with sports around the world, the year 2023 sees Hero add two more events to the portfolio in the Middle East with the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi and Hero Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai. How do you see this partnership?
The Hero Cup and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic have further strengthened our long-term association with the DP World Tour. The Hero Cup is a unique platform that brings together established and emerging golfers from Great Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe in preparation for the iconic Ryder Cup. Similarly, the Dubai Desert Classic is an iconic tournament and brings with it a rich legacy.
Hero MotoCorp has rapidly grown into a global brand with a footprint in more than 43 countries across multiple continents including Asia, Africa, South and Central America and Middle East. Moreover, this region holds a special place in my heart, as I unveiled VIDA — Powered by Hero — our new emerging mobility brand in Dubai in March 2022.
Our association with the DP World Tour, therefore, is a partnership that we value immensely.

You are quite the golfer yourself. How is your game going?
I have been fortunate enough to have played at some of the best golf courses in the world. My work keeps me very busy with a tight schedule and lot of travelling. So I play whenever time permits me. I usually try to play early morning on weekends.

And do you have any favourite golfers you like to follow on the course or check on their scores each week?
I am a fan of the sport, first. So, I am always cheering for exciting action. I keep myself updated with young and upcoming players.

How do you rate the UAE courses? Do you have a favourite?
The courses here are fabulous. They are an added motivation for me to come to the UAE as often as I can. As I said earlier, I have played on courses across the world and I can say the ones here can hold their own. The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai is truly remarkable in terms of the playing conditions and the hospitality.

You were inducted into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame for your contributions to the sport. How have you seen the sport develop in your home and what are your plans to grow the game further?
The growth of the game in India and many other Asian countries has truly been gratifying for us. This is the motivation for us to keep promoting the game and the emerging players. When we came into golf in the late 1990s, it was still in its early stages; now two-and-a-half decades later, the scenario is totally different — from the quality of courses to the number of talented players coming from small cities and towns in India.
Even at the global level, we are trying to create platforms — such as the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi and the Hero Dubai Desert Classic — that enable us to take the sport forward and provide a platform for the youth and budding golfers to showcase their talent.

Finally, did you manage to catch up with Tiger at the Hero World Challenge? Did he give any hints about his hopes for the year ahead?
Yes, we spent some quality time together during the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in November and early December last year. Tiger is an icon and an inspiration to everyone across the globe. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing him in action whenever he chooses to play in a tournament.