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The Scarlet & Black

Athlete spotlight: The Sinha sisters

Vrishali and Vidushi Sinha have stood out throughout their three golf seasons at Grinnell. Last weekend, they took the top two spots at conference. Photo by Mahira Faran.
Vrishali and Vidushi Sinha have stood out throughout their three golf seasons at Grinnell. Last weekend, they took the top two spots at conference. Photo by Mahira Faran.

At this year’s Midwest Conference golf championships, Vidushi and Vrishali Sinha, both ’19, dominated the competition. Vidushi claimed her second MWC title while Vrishali placed second, for her third top-two finish at the competition. The sisters and their teammates finished the three-day tournament to claim their fifth league championship in a row.

Yet the Sinhas’ competitive prowess is not readily apparent from talking to them. Non-identical twins, golf has always been a family affair.

“I picked it up to spend time with my dad and brother,” Vrishali said. Golf was a consistent presence at the Sinhas’ home in New Delhi.

“We’d always putt at home, instead of playing board games,” Vidushi added.

Making the transition to competitive golf came as a matter of course for the talented sisters, but was never the main draw.

“My coach forced me to do tournaments. I was scared at first that I wasn’t good enough,” Vrishali recalled. This would prove false as Vrishali went on to win the first tournament she entered. This feat, she noted, “is actually quite rare.” Vidushi was inspired by her sister’s success and started competing as well, although she mentioned that, “I’ve always been a little bit more competitive.”

Like many other sibling athletes who compete in the same sport (Venus and Serena Williams, for example), the Sanhi sisters are immensely supportive of each other. Vidushi said that “the fact that we’re playing together” is what really motivated her to continue with golf. To illustrate this support, Vidushi recalled the sisters’ final nationals match in India when they were set against each other in the first round: “Usually you finish golf for 18 holes, but our game went on for 25 holes … It took us six hours.”

Vrishali said that in the six-hour showdown she “probably had the most fun round of my life.” Vidushi added, “We were all just laughing… she’d win a hole, I’d win the next one. It just wouldn’t finish.” The sisters enjoyed challenging each other and the winner of the game is never the focus.

Family is central to the sisters at Grinnell. They were drawn to Grinnell College, in particular, by the relationship they built with Coach David Arsenault. The sisters referred to their relationship with “Coach A” and assistant women’s golf coach Jennie Jackson as a familial dynamic.

“They are a huge part of our support system here,” Vidushi said. “If I’m feeling super homesick I can talk to [Coach A].” Their team is also a source of fun and support.

The sisters had never played team golf before coming to Grinnell but have enjoyed the change. “Our team is pretty great,” Vidushi said

Obviously, golf is not all fun and games to the sisters. At Grinnell, the Sinhas have continued to push themselves further than even they might have expected. Vidushi admitted that “Coming into Grinnell, I knew it was a Division III school and I didn’t want my game to get worse. … But my game has improved.” She also stated that the team as a whole has “been getting better every year” because “people want to work harder and improve.”

Vrishali cited a more technical scale for her improvement at Grinnell: this year she aimed to get more than 50 percent “up and downs” (an “up and down” refers to the feat of getting the ball in the hole with only two strokes from around the green or in a greenside bunker). This season Vrishali got 70 percent up and downs. Her success rate, her sister noted proudly, is “crazy” in the golf world.

Other than such well-earned pride, the sisters take their athletic successes with a large degree of humility and a bit of humor. When questioned about the lack of attention paid to golf at Grinnell, Vidushi noted wryly, “I wouldn’t go out and watch golf either.” Both made the choice not to pursue professional golf in eleventh grade when they decided to apply to Division III schools such as Grinnell. Instead, they wanted to focus on academics. Both sisters are Economics majors. Vidushi is a double major with Studio Art and paints “a lot,” while Vrishali is pursuing a concentration in Global Development Studies and enjoys spending time with her friends.

In short, the Sinha sisters are typical, well-rounded Grinnell College students — who just happen to be golf champions as well.

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