James Robinson The former Executive Director of Hong Kong Land talks to Charles McLaughlin about his best ever round and the most memorable moment on a golf course.
When did you start playing golf and where? I was probably 9 or 10 years old when my father gave me some sawed-off golf clubs and taught me how to hit plastic whiff leball type golf balls in our backyard in Lake Bluff, a northern suburb of Chicago. At the same time, I was taking up my number one sporting passion, ice hockey (or just “hockey” to my Canadian friends) which also requires excellent hand-eye coordination in striking with force and accuracy a stationary object towards a target. My younger brother Harry (who was and still is a much more accomplished golfer than myself) and I were fortunate in middle school and high school in that the highly-regarded Lake Bluff Public Golf Course was opened in 1968, only a 5-minute bike ride from our home. Our summers were always spent playing golf, while my winters (and later year-round) were spent playing competitive ice hockey in the Chicago area. How often do you play? I came to Hong Kong as a young architect/ engineer in 1978, carrying one suitcase, my 74
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ice hockey equipment duffel bag, and a set of my father’s golf clubs (Wilson Staff irons as I recall). I immediately joined The American Club and it’s well-organised American Club Golf ing Society which held regular golf matches against other local Clubs. A few years later in 1987, I purchased a golf debenture at Discovery Bay and also put my name down on the waiting list for The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club. I joined the latter in 1997 (1st July to be exact) and now play most Saturdays at Fanling with friends, the Jimmy’s Kitchen Golfing Society, and sometimes on Sunday afternoons with my wife Yuni who also loves to play golf. What’s been your best ever round? My best round of golf was a nifty 75 at the original 18-hole course at Discovery Bay, the challenging Diamond and Ruby Course. I was playing with one of my best friends in a morning match, however, because of a ferry delay, I could only join the game on the 2nd hole. Then magic struck, and I completed the long par-5, 18th hole at just three over par; as I recall, three birdies and six bogies. HKGOLFER.COM
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My good friend Steve Marcopoto turned to me and said, “you have to complete the round, and I will caddy for you to play the 1st hole.” So, after a quick drink to calm my nerves, we headed back out in the late afternoon, and I sank a long putt for a par-4 and a full round of 75. Then the beers started to flow over our late lunch. Do you have a favourite course? This is an easy choice for me. The Old Course at St. Andrews, which I have been so lucky to have played severa l t i mes w it h Ch r is Underwood, who grew up in St. Andrews and lived for many years in Hong Kong and Asia. Touring Scotland twice in the mid-1990s with many friends from The Discovery Bay Golf Club was and still is one of my most favourite “bucket-list” vacations. What has been your most memorable moment on a golf course? Again, this goes back to my first “bucket-list” golf trip to Scotland in the summer of 1993. Near the end of our week-long trip, Chris Underwood had organised a very competitive group of four-ball matches on the Old Course between our touring Discovery Bay Golf Club team and a team from the Royal and Ancient which included Chris’s father. I was paired-up with Jim Gosney, a Seattle-based newspaper journalist, who had flown into Scotland to be part of our tour. We were having a great match with two stalwarts of the R&A, and Jim and I were leading one-up going into the famous “Road Hole”, the par-4, 17th. I pulled my teeshot slightly to the left across the dog-leg right fairway and found myself with a decent lie in the sparse rough at about 190-200 yards out. I took a deep breath, pulled out my trusty 5-iron and crushed-it dead straight to eight feet below the hole. And with my tapping in for par, we won the match 2/1 and the overall team match! Months later and after we had all gone our ways home, Jim Gosney sent me an autographed copy of his book Gosney, For all Seasons in which he wrote, “To Jim Robinson, from the admiring witness to the finest 5-iron ever hit on the Road Hole at St. Andrews.” Who would be in your dream fourball? Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Jordan Spieth. All gentleman golfers with great short games and massive competitive drive, who loved to play the Open Championship in Great Britain. And of course, they have been wonderful worldwide ambassadors for this great game we all love to play. HKGOLFER.COM
"Months later and after we had all gone our ways home, Jim Gosney sent me an autographed copy of his book Gosney, For all Seasons in which he wrote, "To Jim Robinson, from the admiring witness to the finest 5-iron ever hit on the Road Hole at St. Andrews." HK GOLFER・FEB 2018