The Legend: He Caddied for Prime Ministers & Coached Kings, He Survived a Plane Crash and Cancer
Nellan was born in poverty in post-war, pre-independence Malaya. The eldest of 10 children, he slept on concrete, lived on tapioca and earned 55 sen a round as a caddy. A school dropout, he would gain ‘a doctorate’ in golf. His first ‘club’ was a metal rod he found on a building site. He was given a 4-iron and broke 80 – it was the only club he had for years. Once he had a full set, he would play for his country around the world. An even better coach than player, his life encompasses the modern histories of golf and Malaysia, and he’s met the most famous names: Lee Kuan Yew, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdul Razak; Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Gary Player. No wonder they call him ‘The Legend’. A forgotten Malaysian sporting hero, this is his incredible story.
“He chose the wrong club.”
Nellan on the pilot bringing the plane down 2km short of the runway.
“He’s the most honest professional I’ve ever met.”
Ex RSGC pro Norman von Nida.
“Dad, don’t ever stop playing this game.”
Son Tharvindren after Nellan executed an ‘impossible’ par-saving shot while recovering from cancer.
“It’s like having a piece of meat once a year.”
Nellan’s father on there being just one big annual tournament
– the Malaysian Open.
“The look on his face said that he was not merely visiting a golf course. It looked more like he was walking around a cathedral.”
Friend Ed Boyer on Nellan’s reaction to playing the fabled Riviera course in California.
“Made in India, born in ‘Malaya.’”
Nellan describing himself.
“There’s no such thing as an unplayable lie.”