Golf and fashion go hand in hand – and that even extends to belts. Take the latest offerings from Druh Belts & Buckles. The brainchild of touring professional Simon Hurd (Druh is Hurd backwards), the brand offers a selection of stylish handmade leather and snakeskin belts in a wide variety of classic and chic casual styles. Worn by over one hundred professional golfers, including six major winners, these are just the thing to get you noticed on the course. HKGA member offer: Two for the price of one exclusive deal. Visit www. druhbeltsandbuckles.com, choose any 1.5” belt valued at US$100 and email Gareth Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your HKGA number to claim a complimentary black or brown 1”leather belt. For every belt purchased, US$5 will be donated to the HKGA’s Junior Golf Programme.
WHEN I WATCH GOLF ON TV, THE COMMENTATORS OFTEN TALK ABOUT THE GRAIN ON THE GREEN. WHAT IS “GRAIN” EXACTLY AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT A PLAYER’S PUTT?
For the Pleasure
Enough nonsense, let’s talk about some serious wine enjoyment
Grain is simply the direction in which the individual blades of grass are growing on the green. A putt struck against the grain will be slower; a putt struck with the grain will be faster. If the grain is running across the line of the putt, it can cause the putt to move in the direction of the grain. Historically, grain has occurred with all putting green turfgrass, but it tends to be especially pronounced with warm season grasses like Bermuda that is prevalent at the majority of courses in Southeast Asia. ‘Reading’ grain is considered an art form, but the influence of grain at professional tournaments is a matter of some debate. While grain can certainly be a factor on greens that are covered with a lot of grass, greens that are cut very low (as on tour) shouldn’t be affected as much. That doesn’t stop the pros from blaming the grain after missing short putts, though!
Couple’s Amazing Double Two swings, two aces - two balls in the same cup. Moments after John Wong scored a hole-in-one, his wife Christine stepped to the tee and matched it on the second hole of the Pete Dye Course at Mission Hills Golf Club on 28 December. “We did not see the balls rolling into the cup when we teed off since it was uphill with a ridge in front of the hole,” explained Christine. “We rode the buggy to left of the green but couldn’t see either of them, so I told John to have a look in the hole. We were thrilled when we found both balls there and did something we shouldn’t have done – yelled so loudly that the flight before us came to complain about the noise.” The odds of a golfer scoring an ace are about 5,000-1. But the odds of two players in the same foursome doing it are 17 million to 1, according to a Golf Digest article in 2000. “We were in a rush for a party that evening and so there was no celebration on the actual day,” sad Christine. “However, two nights later we held a small champagne party for the Hong Kong Police Golfing Society which we’re both members of. Getting a hole in one has been one of my birthday wishes as I’ve never had one before, but this was John’s second after he made his first ace last June.” The couple is now checking to see whether their achievements will earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
HK Golfer・Jan/Feb 2009
In order to ensure local historical golfing images are preserved for future generations, we have launched an initiative to professionally scan all historical pictures hanging in golf clubs across Hong Kong. The scans are given to the clubs to provide them with a digital backup of their original image, and as an added protection a copy is placed in the HK Golfer archive. In addition, should the image be deemed of special historical significance, HK Golfer will fund the creation of a professionally restored digital file. Clubs have already commenced submitting images. We are pleased to announce that we are now expanding this initiative to include items in private hands in Hong Kong. If you have any old golf-related photographs, art or memorabilia we would like to see it. Items deemed historically significant will be scanned and added to the archive, with a scan copy supplied to the owner. In each issue, we will feature the most interesting item received from our readers. In the first instance, please send a description of items you feel should be preserved to email@example.com. If possible, please include an image of the items. Alternatively, please send items to: HK Golfer Archive Times International Creation Ltd 20/F Central Tower 28 Queen's Road Central
HK Golfer Image Archive
, by now readers of this column w i l l have figured out t hat I am not a fan of the practice of hoarding wine ad infinitum in order to earn a profit. Wine is meant to be consumed and enjoyed with good food and good friends, not to sit in a dark cellar to be occasionally paraded before an adoring public who generally could never afford to buy it. Sure, I think it is great if anyone can earn money from collecting wine, but I always advise clients to only buy what they know they would be happy to consume in the future should the investment road prove to be rougher than anticipated. Wine investment can be hugely profitable and really good fun, but few are good enough to succeed at it. Having said that, collecting wine to cellar and ageing it in order to optimise its enjoyment is one of Man’s noblest pursuits. I am sure that God is a collector. I doubt he is an investor. I mark the beginning of the Asian fa sci nat ion wit h esoteric wi nes to September 2005, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao toasted UK Prime Minister Tony Blair with Lafite at a widely televised dinner in Beijing. Immediately after this, the demand for first growth Bordeaux went crazy. Alas, like every other asset bubble the wine investment bubble has also burst. The warning signs have been there for a while and I must admit that I am annoyed with the upbeat, self-serving nonsense that has been emanating from industry doyens of how wine is not adversely effected by the global financial cesspit we have just been pushed into by the conspiring fools who dug it. That is rubbish. That which was over US$1200 per bottle only six months ago is now offered at US$700 - and prices are falling. If you don’t believe me, try asking your supplier of 2005 Bordeaux at what price he would like to re-own them. Take a restraining device as all you are likely to see is a puff of dust as he runs for the nearest exit. For avid consumers of wine this is a very welcome development. Even for disappointed www.hkga.com
investors it is a healthy correction that might attract new buyers and thus add market depth. Hopefully the madness has disappeared for at least another generation. It will no doubt return. Greed is a much more potent force than fear. Let’s move on. Many readers have asked that I recommend more wines for drinking. At the risk of seeming too commercial, I am going to suggest one that I think every serious consumer of wine needs to try. But first the background story. About two years ago the Wine Exchange Asia team was at a fabulous dinner at Raffles in Singapore hosted by a very select group of privately owned wine houses, including such venerable names as the house of Tattinger, Sassicaia, Antinori, JJ Prum and Gaja. Glugging down as much of their wonderful produce as we could, we stopped to ask what they drank at home when not consuming their own wines. Three immediately answered that they were very interested in the wines coming from Margaret River in Western Australia. A very animated discussion then ensued so we retreated to a neutral corner and polished off a delightful bottle of Tignanello. Soon after we went on wine safari to Margaret River. We visited everyone and tried just about everything and put together a collection of our top-20 reds and
whites that we then lined up against each other in a blind tasting. There were some absolutely stunning wines, with the very best not surprisingly coming from the more familiar names that are the flagbearers of the region: Cullens, Leeuwin, Moss Wood, Pierro and Vasse Felix. Truly world-class wine without the ridiculous Bordeaux price tags. The quality of the chardonnays was outstanding, but we were primarily here to hunt down reds. In that category, the very clear winner was from a tiny producer that we had never heard of and that we had literally found by accident. It was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 of a winery called Gralyn. Huh? Who? HK Golfer・Jan/Feb 2009
Illustration by Arthur Hacker
Belting Offer for HKGA Members
Style, News and Stats
Some quick research revealed them to be one of the pioneers of the region, first planted in 1973. We raced out the next day and met the proprietors, Graham and Merilyn Hutton (hence Gralyn), and asked whether we could get an annual allocation for our clients. They looked back at us blankly and explained that they produce 500 cases per year of reds and that all were sold exclusively at cellar door to delighted wine tourists who then went on their private mailing list and religiously reordered annually. There was nowhere else the wine could be purchased. Somewhat deflated, we bought six dozen various reds and joined the mailing list. Ever since we have told all our clients that they simply must drop in to Gralyn should they ever travel to Margaret River. The overwhelming majority also ended up on the mailing list! We kept cajoling the Huttons, exhorting them to let us help them expand their audience to a more international clientele. Well, I am delighted to inform that they have finally agreed to an exclusive offer to readers of HK Golfer, at a significant discount to their mailing list price. My personal favourites are the Cabernets but the Shiraz is also an excellent wine. All are outstanding value on a world comparative basis and should be in the cellar of any serious collector. Try them in a blind tasting against your favourite French wines and I am convinced you will be converted. For good measure, here are some snippets of what the critics have to say about Grayln and its produce.
James Halliday accorded the winery his top 5 star rating in the Australian Wine Companion and of the Cabernet wrote the following: “A very rich and supple medium to full-bodied palate, with layers of black fruits rippling within a framework of cedary French oak and fine but persistent tannis. Rating 94. To 2025.” Robert Parker Jr, writing in Wine Advocate, hailed the wine as: “One of the finest Cabernets I have ever tasted from Margaret River.” Ray Jordan, in the 2008 edition of his Guide to Wine, wrote: “Poised and elegant Cabernet with a delightful fragrance and perfume of minty blackcurrant and dark spicy plum. Powerhouse palate is delivered with restraint and style with the fine ripe tannins and quality oak supporting the stunning fruit. Great wine. 96/100.” Enough said.—Robert Rees Robert is founder of Wine Exchange Asia, a wine auction website serving customers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
FANCY THAT If you’re the type of golfer who simply has to have the latest clubs on the market, spare a thought for Neil McLellan. When McLellan, a retired investment banker from Dunblane, Scotland, died four years ago at age sixty-nine, relatives discovered two large sheds on his estate filled with top-of-the-line drivers, wedges, putters and irons. There were more than three thousand clubs in all, each purchased new, plus innumerable instruction books, balls, bags, shoes and other golf items. McLellan, a bachelor, took up golf at the age of forty and was determined to bring his handicap below nineteen. He never did. Most of the clubs were used just once and abandoned. “He was more of a golf enthusiast than a skilled player,” pointed out the pro at his club in Dunblane. At an auction in March 2005, the equipment fetched $55,000.
SPECIAL OFFER For a very limited period we will be offering readers of this column Gralyn Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, including delivery to your nominated address in Hong Kong, at the special price of A$90 per bottle (approximately HK$465 at time of press). Minimum order is 12 bottles. To place an order, or if you have any other enquiries, please email Robert at
HK Golfer・Jan/Feb 2009
The age of Jack Nicklaus when he won the Masters in 1986. Nicklaus is the oldest Masters champion in history.
chips and putts
The first course in the world to bear the Tiger Woods signature, the Al Ruwaya Golf Club in Dubai, has commenced grassing. The 7,800 yard, par 72 layout, which is part of The Tiger Woods Dubai, an exclusive 55 million sq ft golf community development, is due for completion at the end of the year. Said the world number one: “It’s exciting to see my first ever course design coming to life. My vision is being realized.” Built over virgin desert, Al Ruwaya, which is Arabic for “serenity”, will feature dramatic elevation changes and several large water hazards; but with six tees on every hole, it has been built with recreational players in mind. Although a signature hole hasn’t been announced, the mighty 507 yard par-four 18th (pictured here) is sure to wreck more than its fair share of scorecards. Membership of t he club will be limited to 200, with residents of t he US$1.1 bi l l ion community being given priority. Although whether the club will allow visitors to tee it up remains to be seen. Watch this space.
NEW TAYLORMADE STORE TaylorMade-Adidas Golf has opened its first concept store in Hong Kong. Situated at Sino Plaza in Causeway Bay, the outlet stocks the latest equipment, apparel and accessories, although the focus, says TaylorMade, will be on clubfitting. To that end, customers will have use of MATT (Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade), a stateof-the-art indoor fitting system which was originally developed for use by the brand’s legion of tour players.
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PRESIDENTIAL GOLF John F. Kennedy reputedly played off a handicap of eight, while Dwight D. Eisenhower has a tree named after him at Augusta National where he was a member (the Eisenhower Tree at the 17th, because he kept hitting it with his driver). Whether Barack Obama will ever get down to single figures or, for that matter, ever be invited to join Augusta is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: he won’t ever hold the title of the fattest golfing president in history. That honour, if you can call it that, goes to William Howard Taft, who at nearly 350 pounds (and a 54 inch waistline) doesn’t look like losing that particular record any time soon. President Obama, a lefty, seen here playing at the Mid Pacific Country Club while on vacation in Hawaii prior to his inauguration, might not have the most elegant of actions, but top instructor David Leadbetter was quick to offer praise. “He moves well and doesn't look tense or stiff,” the guru said of the President, whose first sporting love is basketball. Butch Harmon, Phil Mickelson’s coach, wasn’t so impressed, however. “The problem is he’s got no body turn at all,” said Harmon. “It’s a handsand-arms swing. He lunges at impact. His head lifts, his spine angle pops straight up and he pulls the club across the ball. I wouldn’t think he has much consistency.” So what should the world’s most powerful man do to fix his swing? “I’d have him make a better turn going back with his hips and shoulders, so that when he comes down, everything doesn’t unwind so early. He needs more windup,” suggested Harmon.
TIGER’S DUBAI COURSE
“ “Never bet with anyone you meet on the first tee who has a deep suntan, a one iron in his bag and squinty eyes.””
- Dave Marr, former commentator and winner of the 1965 USPGA Championship
HK Golfer・Jan/Feb 2009
Published on Dec 31, 2008
www.HkgA.CoM 8 Hk goLfeR・JAN/feb 2009 www.HkgA.CoM Hk goLfeR・JAN/feb 2009 9 Clubhouse WHEN I WATCH GOLF ON TV, THE COMMENTATORS OFTEN TALK A...