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hk player profiles

Jock’s

From playing in the Open Championship to setting up Hong Kong’s most popular supermarket chain, Jock Mackie has been a success both on and off the course

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STORY BY ALEX JENKINS PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES MCLAUGHLIN

hen the world’s best golfers gather at Turnberry for the Open Championship in July, former Hong Kong international Jock Mackie will be celebrating more than most when the first tee shot is struck. The reason? The 2009 edition of the event marks precisely 50 years since Jock teed it up at Murifield to become the first – and so far only – Hong Kong golfer to play in the game’s oldest Major championship. Arguably the most prolific local sportsman of his generation, Jock, who turns 81 in August, represented Hong Kong is six different sports – including rugby, cricket, swimming, tennis and hockey – but it was golf in which he truly excelled. Born in Penang to Scottish parents, Jock arrived in Hong Kong, via Singapore and Australia, in his late teens and quickly established himself as one of the colony’s finest players. Having started the game at his mother’s behest at the age of eight, Jock got down to scratch within a few months of joining the Hong Kong Golf Club and was soon winning titles. “We were all very keen about our golf in those days,” remembers Jock, who won the Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship three times in the 1950s. “The routine was to head up to Fanling on the Saturday and play a warmup round in the afternoon. We’d then have a ‘Dice and Gin’ evening at the club and the next morning we’d play a more competitive round. Sunday afternoons was reserved for a friendly game, but we didn’t play much more than that – we all had jobs to do.” Indeed they did. Jock, whose father worked for Cable & Wireless, first entered employment as a management trainee with Jardine Matheson in 1948, before becoming a sales director with Dennis Hazell & Company, a distribution company that handled Slazenger and Penfold sports goods, 20

HK Golfer・Jun/Jul 2009

two of the biggest golf brands of the era. It was towards the end of his time with Dennis Hazell, that Jock enjoyed his annus mirabilis – 1959. As well as playing in the inaugural Hong Kong Open that year, Jock, as a key member of the Fanling fraternity, along with the likes of Kim Hall, Alan Sutcliffe and Hugh de Lacy Staunton, helped organize it too. “I remember getting on the phone and calling up the Australian pros to see if they could come and play in it,” he recalls. “It started off small but we put on a very good tournament and look where

it is today. We’re all very proud of what it has become and I haven’t missed one yet.” Jock started that first Hong Kong Open brightly, carding a solid 70 to finish the first round just one shot off the pace. Although a 76 on the second day put him out of championship contention, the very fact that he was representing Hong Kong in the colony’s own tournament was, in his own words, “a tremendous feeling.” Fast forward a few months and Jock was teeing it up alongside Max Faulkner, one of the greats of HKGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM

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the game, at the Open at Murifield. Having got through qualifying earlier on in the week, Jock was, by his own admission, “jolly nervous.” “The biggest difference between amateurs and professionals back then became immediately obvious,” recounts Jock with a smile. “On the first hole Faulkner hit his approach just short of the green and received generous applause from the crowd, which was understandable, as he was a former Open champion. Then I stepped up, having hit my tee shot slightly further, and put it

Mackie at Muirfield (from above): Jock (left) with Ken Kinghorn and Max Faulkner at the Open in 1959; relaxing at Shek O Country Club, home of the "Jock's Pot." HK Golfer・Jun/Jul 2009

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Jock has held a number of positions at various clubs and societies throughout Hong Kong, including Chieftain of the Hong Kong St Andrew’s Society. To encourage the continual growth of golf in the SAR, the Mackie Quaich Golf Match – or “Jock’s Pot,” as it is more commonly known – is played every May at Shek O Country Club. This year’s match was won by Stewart Saunders (seen here receiving the “Pot” from Jock) with a Nett Stableford Score of 41 points. Charles McLaughlin was a very close second (40 points), with Shek O captain Jim Mailer finishing in third place on 37 points. Those interested in participating in 2010 should contact the St Andrew’s Society at admin@standrewshk.org. –A.J.

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headlines. During his time heading up A.S. Watson, Jock established the ParknShop supermarket chain and took Watsons into the retail sector. Both enterprises, as anyone in Hong Kong will know, are thriving to this day. Ret u r n i ng to Rober t son , W i l son & Company in 1976, this time as regional group chairman, Jock rekindled his association with golf equipment distribution by acquiring the rights to the Footjoy and Hogan brands, among many others. Indeed, it was through this association with the latter that Jock was able to play 18 holes with the legendary founder of the company, Ben Hogan. “He was an incredibly serious man,” says Jock of the nine-time Major champion. “When the golf started, the conversation dried up. But he was kind enough to give me one of his sand wedges, which is still in my bag to this day.” Jock continued playing to an extremely high standard until his 60s when, he says, his rugby days caught up with him. Hip trouble forced a reluctant Jock to put time on his amateur golf career, but his connections with the game on a local level didn’t end there. In 1980 he acted as non-playing captain for the Hong Kong World Amateur Team Championship and he would later go on to become president of the Hong Kong Golf Association. He was also successful in pushing through Hong Kong’s bid to host both the Eisenhower and Espirito Santo events in Hong Kong in 1984. Even now, Jock, a proud family man who is expecting his first great grandchild later this year, refuses to wind down his business commitments, and devotes much of his time to JDM Associates, a consultancy he set up in the mid-1980s to advise international companies on opportunities in Asia. He is, in golfing terms at the very least, a true Hong Kong legend.

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on the green, closer than him, only a few yards from the flag. The crowd remained deathly silent. It was all pretty amusing.” Later on in his round, at the 15th hole, Jock sprayed his drive into a beverage stand. “In those days you couldn’t get relief – you had to play it where it lay, although it was a little embarrassing taking my stance in a hut,” he says. It proved to be one of the more memorable holes of his career, however, as Jock chipped back to the fairway, put his third on to the green and sunk the putt for a par. Jock the ‘Kiosk King’? Nobody awarded him that moniker, but it has more of a ring to it than Seve the ‘Car park Champion’, after all. Jock narrowly missed the cut at Muirfield, but a surprise was in store after he completed his second round when Faulkner asked if he’d consider working for him as his assistant. “The last thing I wanted to do was to play golf every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I turned him down,” laughs Jock. “In fact, the thought of turning pro never really crossed my mind.” Wit h good reason. Jock ’s career was flourishing. Soon after returning from Scotland, Jock approached the late Sir Douglas Clague, Chairman of Hutchison, with the idea of acquiring a small trading company, Robertson, Wilson & Company, and came out as managing director and owner of 15 percent of the equity. This was the start of a hugely successful friendship with Clague, one that led to Jock becoming chief executive of A.S. Watson, Hutchison’s largest subsidiary, in 1970. Although Jock continued to play fine golf – collecting a slew of titles at both Fanling and Shek O during the mid-late 60s, as well as representing Hong Kong in the World Team Championship (The Eisenhower Trophy) on three occasions – it was his business acumen off the course that was starting to make local

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