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HK Close Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships Review










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HK Golfer Issue 133

March 2018

24 On the Cover:

Jonathan Lai closed with a brilliant final round 67 to win the HK Close Amateur Championship at Fanling over the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo by Daniel Wong



24 | HK Close Amateur & Mid-

10 | Divots

Amateur Championships

Former First Team All-Ivy League golfer Jonathan Lai claimed the 2018 HK Close Amateur Championship title. By Louie Chan

26 | Women’s Amateur Asia-

Pacific Championship

Thai starlet Atthaya Thitikul secured a dramatic wire-towire victory at the inaugural championship by winning a four-way play-off at Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore. By Louie Chan

28 | Tour Insider

Top: Daniel Wong; Bottom:Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific

At 41 years of age, American Pat Perez is enjoying a career renaissance, with faithful caddie Mike Hartford by his side. By Cameron Morfit

36 | Bunker Mentality

With participation levels stagnating and media interest on the wane, the game of golf is approaching its day of reckoning. By Mike Wilson

42 | Asian Angle

26 6


News and events from Hong Kong and the region. By The Editors

12 | In Focus

Pictorial review of last 30 days around the world. By The Editors

19 | Tee Time

The 2018 re-ed ition of 1993 A P Royal Oak Offshore model remains faithful to the original. By The Editors

23 | Rules of Golf

The USGA and The R&A announce key features of a proposed new World Handicap System. By Louie Chan

54 | The Longest Hole – Part 2

The golf odyssey across Mongolia continues. By Adam Rolston

64 | Golf Travel

The Kingdom of Fife is much more than simply the Old Course and St. Andrews. By Mike Wilson

T he PG A TOU R ha s ta ken t he lead to ma ke a difference beyond establishing global golf stars who make headlines every week. By Chuah Choo Chiang

72 | Crossword

48 | The Business of Golf

Jonathan Lai, the Hong Kong Men’s Close Amateur Champion, talks about his best ever round, favourite courses and his amateur golf career. Interview by Louie Chan

It is a huge plus to have golf on your CV whether you are applying to university or that coveted career job. By The Kilted Caddie

This issue: "Know the Rules!" By Dr Milton Wayne

74 | Final Shot


The 15th hole of Kingsbarns Links

HK Golfer


Managing Editor: Louie Chan Contributing Editors: Dr Milton Wayne, Faye Glasgow, John Bruce, Nathan Goulding, Keith McLaren, Paul Jansen, Evan Rast, Mike Wilson, Robin Lynam. Art Director: Derek Hannah Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Administration Manager Cindy Kwok Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Published by:

TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION Times International Creation Limited 10B Lockhart Centre 301-307 Lockhart Road Hong Kong Phone: +852 3590-4153 Fax: +852 3590-4533

D E PA R T M E N T S 10 Divots 12 Global Focus 14 Asia Focus 16 Local Focus 19 Clubhouse 24 Around the HKGA 28 Tour Insider 36 Bunker Mentality 42 Asian Angle 48 The Kilted Caddie 64 Golf Travel Image courtesy of Kingsbarns Golf Club

72 Crossword 74 Final Shot

In association with: Advertising: For advertising information, please contact: For purchasing information contact: For subscription information contact: Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email:

HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 10B Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2017 by Times International Creation. Published in Hong Kong. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. PRINTED IN HONG KONG. 8




Winslow Wins PGA TOUR Series-China Q-School No. 2

PGA TOUR Series-China/Zhuang Liu

Big-hitting American Joseph Winslow shot a closing 3-under 69 to secure a four-stroke victory over compatriot Ryann Ree (70) at the PGA TOUR Series-China International Qualifying Tournament No. 2, the second of two successive 72-hole qualifiers at Mission Hills Haikou. Winslow f inished 12-under over the 7,147-yard Sandbelt Trails Course, while Ree was followed by fellow Americans Kevin Techakanokboon (69), at 7-under, and Brett Munson (70) at 6-under. Jesse Speirs (fifth), Matthew Negri (ninth) and Cody Paladino (14th) rounded out the seven Americans in the top-15.  Chinese Taipei’s Haosheng Hsu and Chiehpo “Ma x” Lee f inished sixth and 10th, respectively. Other qualifiers included Engla nd’s Wi l l ia m Ha rrold (sevent h), Singapore’s Quincy Quek (eighth), Philippine amateur Lloyd Jefferson Go (11th) and Ireland’s Brian O’Donovan (12th), a Mission Hills Shenzhen teaching pro.  Korean Taeho Kim (13th) was later joined by countryman Myunghwa Hong after the latter won a four-way playoff with a birdie at the first extra hole to secure the 15th full card.  Players from Canada, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Argentina, Japan and New Zealand were among those who finished in the top 40 to earn conditional status.

Li Haotong Wins the Omega Dubai Classic Following four days of enthralling golf at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the “Major of the Middle East” has concluded in victory for Li Haotong of China. Li played finished on 23 under par, with just a stroke lead over Omega ambassador Rory McIlroy on the renowned Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club. The close victor y earns Li a t rophy, winner's cheque and a brand-new Omega S e a m a s t e r A q u a Te r r a 15 0 M M a s t e r Chronometer. Driven by the Omega Master Chronometer calibre 8901 - the elegant 41 mm timepiece features an 18K Sedna™ gold case, brown leather strap, and 18K Sedna™ gold hands and indexes that are coated with white Super-LumiNova for superb visibility in all lighting conditions. The brown sunbrushed dial is distinguished by a horizontal teak pattern inspired by the wooden decks of luxury sailboats. Omega President a nd CEO Ray na ld Aeschlimann said: “I’m proud to sincerely 10


congratulate Li Haotong on his win and for treating us all to such world class golf. It's been a thrill from the first day to the final few putts. Omega feels very honoured to be part of this fantastic event, which is a real highlight of the golfing year. This has been the perfect start to 2018 and I wish all the players a fantastic season ahead." HKGOLFER.COM


The Hong Kong Station of PGA Junior League China Launched PGA Junior League (PGA JLG) announced the launch of the league in Greater China Region. The event was held in The ONE Golf Club, which is also the only authroised golf club for PGA JLG in Hong Kong and Macau region. With the launch of PGA JLG China, The ONE Golf Club will extend the ‘Zero to Hero’ program to primary schools, providing more opportunities to young people and making the next golf star. PGA Jr. League, the PGA of America’s signature youth golf program is expanded to Asia. Cooperating with China’s leading golf simulator RG, PGA JLG debut in Asia for the first time ever, the league will be in China this March and the popular team approach to golf for boys and girls ages 13 and under. PG A Jr. L ea g ue is a f u n , socia l a nd inclusive opportunity for boys and girls to learn and enjoy the game of golf. Much like other recreational league sports, participants wear numbered jerseys and play on teams with their friends. “ We have installed our golf simulator systems in several locations for the past

two years, and we will continue to promote the value of indoor practice and install more system in Hong Kong and Macau,’ said Collins Yuen, Operation Manager of The ONE Golf Club. ‘This year we will start providing golf training for secondary schools’ Physical Education lessons and golf team or even help them build one if they have yet form a team, in order to participate in the coming HKGA’s joint school competition this May.’

Global Focus Bubba Golf Back to Winner’s Circle It’s been just two years since Bubba Watson hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour. Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds. Watson seized control in the final round with two par putts as everyone around him was dropping shots, then pulling ahead by holing a bunker shot on the par-3 14th hole. He closed with a 2-under 69 for a two-shot victory in the Genesis Open over Kevin Na and Tony Finau, and more tears on the 18th green. Watson showed up this year at No. 117, coming off a year filled with so many doubts that he says he discussed retirement with his wife on a dozen occasions. He joined Ben Hogan and Lloyd Mangrum as three-time winners at Riviera. Hogan’s victories include a U.S. Open. Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Asia Focus Super Sharma Seals Stunning Win A red-hot Shubhankar Sharma fired 10 birdies for a remarkable 10-under-par 62 to claim a stunning two-shot victory at the US$3 million Maybank Championship on. The 21-year-old Indian overcame a four-shot deficit with a dominant display to clinch his second Asian Tour and European Tour title with a winning total of 21-under-par 267 in windy conditions at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.  In his fourth start since winning the Joburg Open in South Africa in December, Sharma produced a sensational final round where he made five birdies in each half which included clutch birdie putts on 17 and 18.  Sharma produced a great comeback after struggling in the opening two rounds where he was tied in 48th place at the halfway stage. A third round 66 put him within four shots of the lead and he charged into contention on the final round when he got off to a hot front nine.  The victory earned him US$500,000 and moved him to the top of the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings and on the Race to Dubai on the European Tour. Photo by AFP/Manan Vatsyayana

Local Focus Isabella Leung Finished Top 20 in the WAAP Championship Isabella Leung finished as the highest ranked Hong Kong player in the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship. “I am very proud, because it is such a prestigious event and I’m very happy to be here representing Hong Kong. My initial goal was getting into Top 20. And I did! I’m pretty happy with my performance this week. First day wasn’t so good but I improved every round,” said Leung, who tied at 22nd on six over par. The original field started with 83 players representing 18 nations, with 48 aged 18 or under, and 53 made the halfway cut. Hong Kong ad four players in the tournament. Leung and Chloe Chan both made the cut after 36 holes. “I’m really happy to have made the cut, as that was my target coming into this tournament. I feel like I could have played much better in my 3rd and 4th round. I didn’t play well the last 2 days, and hopefully next year, I can play better and get Top 20,” said Chan, who finished tied 47th. Photo by Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific


Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME


The 2018 re-edition of 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore HKGOLFER.COM




The caseback features an engraved “Royal Oak Offshore” logo in the centre with the word “AUTOMATIC” underneath. 20


he story of the Royal Oak Offshore B u t u n l i k e p r e v i o u s r e - e d i t i o n s , t h e since its launch in 1993 is an caseback features an engraved “Royal Oak uninterrupted flow of new ideas Offshore” logo in the centre with the word in form, function and, above “AUTOMATIC” underneath. This ROO re-edition has the same 42mm all, materials. More than 120 cushion-shaped references stainless steel of the 42mm Royal Oak O f f shore have b een “The 2018 re-edition celebrates case, with the same design launched over the years the essence of the original and the same in a range of materials piece, applying the knowledge finishing. including titanium, Vertically forged carbon, gold and technique of 2018.” brushed on flat and platinum. sur f aces, and I n 19 93 , t h e f i r s t big, bold Royal Oak Offshore broke all the enlightened by polished bevels, it retains the rules and kick-started a global taste for larger- protection piece around the crown and the than-life luxury sports watches. The 2018 re- pushers. On top, separated from the case by edition celebrates the essence of the original a large black gasket, is the same octagonal piece, applying the knowledge and technique bezel, vertically brushed on top, polished on of 2018. And safely within, the selfwinding the sides, with eight hexagonal screws. The dial brings back the “Petite Tapisserie” 3126/3840 calibre that incorporates 25 years of horological upgrades and improvements. pattern, while the other modern versions of HKGOLFER.COM

the ROO are all using a much larger pattern, the “Mega Tapisserie” The hands, as well as the white gold applied indexes, are also totally equal to the old edition, with their familiar rounded shape. Finally, on the wrist, this watch feels, as you can imagine, quite familiar. Again, what was named “the beast” 25 years ago is now a watch that feels almost standard in terms of size. The ROO is certainly not a small and light watch, yet this 42mm case is now almost restrained, compared to some of the luxury sports watches we can see on the market.

Top: Royal Oak Offshore 37mm stainless steel case with “Lady Tapisserie” pattern purple dial and purple rubber strap. Right: Royal Oak Offshore 42mm 18-carat pink gold case with “Mega Tapisserie” pattern Grey ruthenium-toned dial HKGOLFER.COM



Lai Crowned Hong Kong Close Amateur Champion


Former First Team All-Ivy League golfer Jonathan Lai claimed the 2018 HK Close Amateur Championship title, writes Louie Chan.

Daniel Wong

onathan Lai closed with a brilliant final round 67 to win the Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship at Fanling over the Lunar New Year holiday. Graduated from Yale University last May, Lai claimed his first amateur title in Hong Kong and secured a spot in the prestigious MercedesTrophy Hong Kong 2018 event at Fanling in May. “I had actually taken a long break from golf; I didn’t play from April to December in 2017. So, I am very pleased with the way I played. It took a while for me to get comfortable on the course finally. In the first round, I was very uncomfortable and thinking a lot on plenty of shots. But towards the end of the tournament, I was able to stop thinking too much and just played golf. “The weather on the second day was actually the toughest, as it was very windy for most of the day. I luckily have some experience playing in windy conditions during my collegiate golf career in the states, specifically in the northeast. A lot of the pin positions in the third and final round were tough, resulting in a lot of missed putts. I think as guys were getting used to the pins, scores started getting lower, which you could see in the lower scores in the final round,” said Lai, the son of Lai Law Kau, former Hong Kong National Soccer Team player. Hong Kong Junior Close Champion Taichi Kho finished second with a total of 279, just two strokes behind Lai. Kho and Lai were tied for the lead going into the last round. Hong Kong Open Amateur Champion Matthew Cheung finished on 282 for third overall. 22


Jonathan Lai (left) receives the 2018 HK Close Amateur Championship trophy from Danny Lai, CEO of the HKGA Five-time Seniors Close Amateur Champion Douglas Williams won the Mid-Amateur title for players aged 25 and above with a total of 290. Stuart McKinnon finished three shots back on 293 at second. For more information about the Hong Kong Close Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships result, please go to: Leading final scores: 277 – Jonathan Lai (71, 68, 71, 67); 279 – Taichi Kho (68, 71, 71, 69), 282 – Matthew Cheung (72, 71, 71, 68); 285 – Isaac Lam (68, 71, 75, 71), Wu Sho Wai (67, 71, 75, 72); 287 – Terrence Ng (74, 69, 73, 71); 290 – Douglas Williams (71, 77, 74, 68); 293 – Stuart McKinnon (69, 78, 72, 74). HKGOLFER.COM

Doug Williams

Stuart McKinnon

Left to right: Matthew Cheung, Taichi Kho and Terrence Ng


Yannick Artigolle

Isaac Lam

Jonathan Lai




Thai Starlet Thitikul Wins Inaugural WAAP Championship Emerging Thai star Atthaya Thitikul, 15, secured a dramatic wire-to-wire victory at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship by winning a four-way play-off at Sentosa Golf Club and securing places in two of this year’s major championships, writes Louie Chan. Image courtesy of Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific


15-year-old Atthaya Thitikul won the inaugural Women’s Amateur AsiaPacific and secured places in two of this year’s major championships 24


hitikul carded a closing 71 to join Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (69), the Philippines’ Yuka Saso (68) and New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh (67) with an eight-under total of 276 over the 6,456-yard New Tanjong course. After narrowly missing birdie-putt chances to win on the first two extra holes on 18, Thitikul tapped in for par on the long par-four 12th before 17-year-old Nishimura missed a long par putt to concede victory. Keh, 20, and Saso, 16, exited after the first and second extra holes respectively. Thitikul, who only turned 15 on Tuesday, sta r ted t he event at 53rd in t he World Amateur Golf Ranking, with recent highlights including becoming the Ladies European Tour’s youngest-ever winner last July and gold medals in the SEA Games individual and team events in Malaysia a month later.

Now, she has earned invitations to the A NA Inspiration (29 March-1 April) at Mission Hills Country Club in California, USA, and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (2-5 August) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, as well as next week’s 11th HSBC Women’s World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club. Born in Ratchaburi province west of Bangkok, Thitikul made her major championship debut at the Ricoh Women’s British Open last August and the following month played in her second at The Evian Championship in France, where she made the cut. Now, the Thai teen has earned a return to the Women’s British Open after an eventful week in which she led after an opening 65, co-led after a second-round 71 and regained the outright lead after a third-round 69 that she completed on Saturday morning when she birdied two of her last four holes. “I’m so excited because this is the first year of this championship. It’s so great that my name is the first one on the trophy,” said Thitikul, who played in her first LPGA event at the Honda LPGA Thailand last February, when she just turned 14. Six Japanese and five Koreans finished in the top 20, while five Filipinas finished in the top 30. Hong Kong’s Isabella Leung and Chloe Chan had made the halfway cut. Leung finished at a respectful tied 22nd on six over, while Chan finished tied 47th. The inaugural championship has been developed by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and The R&A to nurture talent and provide a pathway for the region’s elite female amateurs to the international stage.  For more information on the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, please visit WAAP. HKGOLFER.COM

New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh

Players in the four-way play-off

The Philippines’ Yuka Saso

Champion Thitikul with experienced caddie Roongroj ‘Yod’ Boonsri


Japan’s Yuna Nishimura

Isabella Leung of Hong Kong




New World Handicap System Designed to Welcome More Golfers The USGA and The R&A announce key features of the proposed new World Handicap System (WHS), designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability globally, writes Louie Chan. The new system will feature the following: •

Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability

A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18hole and 9-hole rounds, but with some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction

A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries

Daniel Wong



An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather

conditions might have on a player’s performance each day  

Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation

A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only)

A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game

Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, commented, “For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap.’ We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game. We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s Rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.” Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers. Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.” 26







Virginie Ding (left) and Chloe Chan (right) mark their scorecards during the first round of Hong Kong Junior Close Championship 2017 The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a handicap; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their handicap to any course globally and compete on a fair and equitable basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.   Given worldwide alignment towards a single system, all parties will now embark on a two-year transition period targeting implementation in 2020.  When adopted, the World Handicap System will be governed by the USGA and The R&A and administered locally by the six existing authorities and national associations around the world, with safeguards included to ensure consistency as well as adaptability to differing golf cultures. The announcement is the latest step in a multi-year collaboration between The USGA and The R&A, as well as handicap authorities and national and regional golf associations around the world to introduce one set of Rules of Handicapping, aimed to support modernizing, growing and improving accessibility of the sport. HKGOLFER.COM




AFP/Getty Images

Pat Perez and Mike Hartford became the longest-running exclusive player-caddie partnership in the game





P-H Factor The Longest-Active Tandem on Tour

At 41 years of age, American Pat Perez is enjoying a career renaissance. With faithful caddie Mike Hartford by his side, the reigning CIMB Classic champion recounts his amazing journey to PGATOUR.COM’s Cameron Morfit and gives a wonderful insight of their highly successful player-caddie relationship.


at Perez remembers his caddie’s “Tom Kite glasses.” Mike Hartford remembers his boss’s sense of humor and enviable talent. They met as teenagers, and Perez, 41, and Hartford, 42, have rarely gone more than a day or two apart since. It’s been a fruitful partnership; they’ve racked up three PGA TOUR victories, including two in the last 16 months, and more than $23 million in career earnings. And Perez has been hovering around the top of the FedExCup standing since the beginning of the 2017-18 season. Perez and Hartford also recently became the longest-running exclusive player-caddie partnership in the game. “I knew way back in the day,” Perez says. “After high school and college, still being in touch, I knew that he was going to be in my life forever. He was just that kind of guy; that kind of friend.” “I just always wanted to be around him because he was so funny,” Hartford says, “but also because he was a great player and he was trying to help me work on my game.” Jim Furyk and Mike “Fluff” Cowan have been together longer, but Furyk has had other full-time caddies, while Perez has never had anyone but the man he calls “H.” When Phil Mickelson and Jim


“Bones” Mackay split last summer, Perez/Hartford went to the top of the list of the most time-tested active tandems on TOUR. They have walked side-by-side since Perez’s rookie TOUR year in 2002, on the Tour before that, and as amateurs before that. When Perez won the 1993 Junior World at Torrey Pines, Hartford drove him to the course each day. (Perez had totaled his car and needed a ride.) They have been together so long that Perez used to work for Hartford, not the other way around. Hartford started a lawn-care business when he was 11, and hired Perez some five years later. “He was the fastest worker I ever had,” Hartford says with a laugh. Their partnership has aged slowly, and well. “I always say there are maybe five combinations out there where no one caddie could do a better job for a player than that particular caddie,” says John “Cubby” Burke, who has caddied for Brad Faxon, Davis Love III and others in a career that has spanned 32 years. “Everyone else is kind of interchangeable. There isn’t another caddie out there could do a better job for Pat than H. “I would say the same thing about Bubba Watson and Ted Scott,” Burke continues. “Mickelson and Bones had it, and Freddy Couples and Joe LaCava. That’s about it. That’s rare air.” But how have they done it? Even Perez admits he



When Phil Mickelson and Jim “Bones” Mackay split last summer, Perez/ Hartford went to the top of the list of the most time-tested active tandems on TOUR



couldn’t have predicted the last 20 years. They are opposites, the brash Perez standing out with his unfiltered opinions and f latbrim hat. Perez’s character fits perfectly with one of his sponsors, William Murray Golf, whose fashion sense is inspired by The Murray Brothers' off-the-cuff mentality and created on the notion that life and golf don't have to be so serious. Get out there, have fun, and look great doing it is Perez’s mantra. In contrast, the low-key Hartford blends into the background, but they share a similar sense of humor. At an interview and video shoot with the PGA TOUR at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, home of the QBE Shootout, they laugh so much that it seems to support the adage that humor is the shock absorber of life. They also trust each other implicitly, so much so that when Perez wanted to hit 7-iron at the 164-yard 11th hole at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last season, and Hartford said it was a 9-iron, Perez didn’t argue. He took the 9 and nearly holed the shot for a kick-in birdie. “Greatest call ever,” Perez says. “I’d have been over the cliff. A lot of guys would have trouble getting on board if they had a two-club

difference of opinion with their caddie.” Not Pat and Mike. They know one another’s birthdays. They know one another’s birthday meals. They talk every day, live four miles from each other in Phoenix, and go to the course together even in off-weeks. Hartford, unmarried, has a standing offer to have his wedding at the secluded mountain home Pat is building in Payson, Arizona, 90 minutes north of Phoenix. Perez won the 1993 Junior World, beating none other than Tiger Woods (who finished fourth) by eight shots. Less well-known is how Hartford had a hand in that victory. No caddies were allowed at that tournament, but he found another way to contribute. “My practice plan for the Junior World was to go up to La Costa to play nine holes before every match,” Perez recalls. “So, H drove me up to La Costa [approximately 20 miles north of Torrey Pines] and then back to the course each day.” “He was all warmed up for his tournament rounds,” Harford says. “He’d already played golf.” After shuttling Perez in his silver 1983 Toyota Celica, Hartford and his grandfather, also a huge Perez fan, followed along on foot


Perez and Hartford have walked side-by-side since Perez’s rookie TOUR year in 2002, on the

as the San Diego junior golf legend dominated at Torrey Pines. Perez won the Maxfli PGA Junior two weeks later in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Hartford had a little game himself. He not only was one of Perez’s high school teammates, he played at the next level for the University of California San Diego. “Freshman of the year,” Perez points out with obvious pride. But Hartford was not in the same league as Perez; it was obvious whose game looked like money. Perez would play; Hartford would caddie. The move would be a masterstroke, first and foremost because of Perez’s otherworldly talent. He is self-deprecating and sometimes calls himself old, short and/or one-dimensional, but his no-nonsense action, a piston-like back-andthrough with a perfectly balanced finish, is one of the coolest moves on TOUR. It’s also highly effective, seeing him through seasons when he made little on the greens and seasons in which his short game flourished. (Last season being the prime example as Perez turned a weakness, putting, into a strength.) Hartford, meanwhile, brought tireless dedication and invaluable counter-ballast. Perez is a spender, the owner of five cars and hundreds of pairs of shoes. “I don’t know what


I need five cars for,” he says, cracking them both up. Hartford is a saver, the owner of stocks. Perez is a night owl. Teetotaler Hartford is a morning person. Perez’s passion, his most endearing quality, can sometimes spill over suboptimally on the course. Meanwhile, the steady Hartford simply soldiers on, ever mindful of the long view. “H is the consummate professional,” Burke notes. “Pat always comes first.” Not surprisingly, Perez and Hartford look back fondly on the Junior World and high school in general. But it’s not long before they dissolve into laughter again, in this case at the memory of the two of them in the Celica, and Perez’s memory of Hartford’s cautious driving. “He’s driving 36 miles an hour in fifth gear,” Perez says, “and this thing is trying to stay alive.” Hartford, who is still cautious on the roads, doesn’t deny it. “I’d pick you up and drive you to school sometimes,” he says, smiling at the memory. If it’s true that player-caddie relationships resemble marriages, and that life imitates art, then Perez/Hartford sometimes resembles the cinematic union of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” In the last scene, in which couples are interviewed side-by-side, Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Ryan) are talking about their wedding cake. “There was this very rich chocolate sauce, on the side,” Ryan says. “Because not everybody likes it on the cake because it makes it very soggy,” Crystal explains. Here are Perez and Hartford, on Pat’s birthday meal of choice: “He loves Mexican food,” Hartford says. “Chicken tacos, rice just on the side. He doesn’t like beans.” Perez laughs. “That’s it,” he says.



Hartford went to work for Danny Lee and waited for Perez to recuperate from shoulder surgery in most of 2016



“His favorite restaurant is Roberto’s,” Hartford says. “Chicken taco at Roberto’s is the best thing on the planet,” Perez confirms. Although they are savoring success now, not long-ago Perez’s career was on the verge of turning into chicken feathers. He had shoulder surgery and sat out for most of 2016. His sponsor dropped him. He was left in the lurch. Hartford went to work for Danny Lee and waited for Perez to recuperate, with no guarantee that he would. Today, Perez and Hartford, who gave eerily similar answers in a recent pop quiz about their union (Pat’s pet peeve: slow play), look back on that time as the low point. “The lowest for this guy would’ve been caddying for Danny Lee,” Perez jokes, cracking them up again. (Note to Danny: He was only kidding.) “The lowest would have been right after his operation, when I saw him at his house,” Hartford says, taking a more serious tone “He was taking pain pills, he couldn’t drive anywhere, his arm was in a sling. And then, seven months later, he won Mexico. That was the high point.” Indeed, when Perez won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba at the outset of last season, he proved

he was far from done. It reignited his career, and even took him to the next level. He made it to the TOUR Championship for the first time, finished a career-best 15th in the FedExCup, and showed you don’t have to be 24 to enjoy success at golf. Sometimes, you peak at 41. Not a year after Mayakoba, in his first start of the 2017-18 season, Perez shot 24-under to win the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He started the new year ranked second in the FedExCup standings. Perez says he knows his limitations and is better at staying within himself. He says he has saved “I don’t know how many strokes” with his short game, going from 117th in strokes gained: around-the-green (-.039) in 2014 all the way to 4th (+.450) in that stat last season. “You know your game better,” Hartford adds. Asked to write down the one word that best describes their partnership, Hartford writes “Trust.” It took trust for him to wait on Perez to recuperate after shoulder surgery, and trust for Perez to hit that 9-iron instead of the 7-iron he wanted to hit at Kapalua last year. “I was going to put ‘brothers’ and ‘family,’” Perez says. “You can’t spend that much time with someone and not have him be part of the family. I’ve talked to him about everything.”


In his first start of the 2017-18 season, Perez shot 24-under to win the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and started the new year ranked second in the FedExCup standings

Would they be good at anything else together? They’ve played some doubles in tennis, mostly winning their matches but in China losing badly to Sergio Garcia, who was playing by himself. “We got smashed,” Perez says. “We couldn’t get the serve back. The serve was going over our heads. He’s got the sweatbands on and everything. We looked like idiots.” Perez just got a new court at his house, and is looking forward to getting out there again, but adds only half-jokingly that he might not want to tangle with Garcia or Daniel Berger, whose father headed up the USTA. Perez is also leery of Matt Kuchar, whose wife, Sybi, played tennis for Georgia Tech. (The Kuchars have played in high-level mixed-doubles tournaments.) “Yeah, they might not be invited,” Perez says, and he and Hartford again fall back laughing. What of the future? Perez says that if the golf went away tomorrow, he and Hartford would turn their attention to something else. Tennis. Business. Shuff leboard. Whatever. It almost wouldn’t even matter; they would remain close. “We talk every day about something,” Perez says. “We’ll have lunch, or he’ll come over for


dinner, or something will happen to someone we know, and we’ll text back and forth about it, sit there and talks - about that person, so that’s kind of cool.” Again, they both bust up laughing. “My wife loves him more than anything because she knows what he puts into it,” he adds. “What we have out here; the bottom line is it’s just rare. You can go down the line and… the biggest word is trust. I could leave my entire operation with him for a year and I know nothing would happen to it except it would get better. If I had kids, left my kids with him, I wouldn’t even call. I would just know they were being taken care of. That’s rare out here.” That was a hypothetical scenario until Tuesday, when Pat and Ashley Perez announced on Instagram that they are expecting their first child in September. This is Pat and Mike's 17th year together on TOUR. They’ve yet to make a Presidents or Ryder Cup team. They’ve yet to win the FedExCup. But they have no complaints. “The cap moment would be a major for us,” Perez says. He likes Shinnecock Hills, the Long Island, New York, club that will host the U.S. Open in June for the first time in 14 years. Perez was in contention through two rounds there in 2004 but like many others, he struggled with the brutal conditions on the weekend, ultimately finishing T40. “I just hope they don’t screw it up like they did the last time,” he says. He also likes Carnoustie, which will play host to the Open Championship. “I’ve already got a club made for it,” Perez says. “A 2-iron that’s going to be perfect. I’m looking forward to this year. I think it’s going to be really good.” Hartford has gone quiet, for Perez is on a roll, and when that happens, it’s best to just let him go. He’s making up for lost time, doing what he does best. Besides, “H” is in his element, too, happily watching his friend open up the throttle and let it run from the best seat in the house. They’re not going 36 mph in fifth gear, anymore.



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Golf ’s




With participation levels stagnating and media interest on the wane, the game of golf is approaching its day of reckoning, fast approaching a fork in the road, as Mike Wilson writes, what few agree on is what direction to take.


t’s clear and in plain sight what’s wrong with golf; it takes too long to watch or play, is inconsistent with a contemporary culture of instant gratification and, for the Millennial generation, too expensive, timeconsuming and far from cool. Like all cultural aspects of society and central to the human condition, life goes in cycles, generational ups-and-downs. But, if club membership figures in traditional golf markets such as the UK and the USA are an accurate benchmark, down on average 7.5% year on year; and pay-TV audience ratings falling at an alarming rate of around 9% per annum, golf has got a significant problem. And one it needs to deal with PDQ. Although those responsible for the broad development and macro-marketing of the game, such as the R&A, the USGA, the European Tour and the PGA TOUR agree that golf take too long to watch and/or play, they appear, like rabbits caught in the headlights, unable to find either individual or collective solutions.



Most agree that slow play is the curse of modern golf. Professional and therefore recreational too, given we all, especially younger, more impressionable players like to mimic the top pros, pacing out yardages, developing pre-and-post-shot routines, reading the greens to within an inch of their lives. At a recent PGA TOUR event, the Farmer’s Insurance at Torrey Pines, the leading group’s three-ball final round took six hours, and still could not conclude, carrying forward to a Monday play-off. Ironically, the winner was the self-acclaimed ‘Snail’ of the PGA TOUR, Jason Day, who, asked about the pace of play by Bunker Mentality recently said, “It doesn't really worry me too much,” adding, “To be honest, I don't really care what people say.” Slow play serial-offender JB Holmes was once again at the heart of the matter. Taking 4’ 10” to play a single shot from the middle of the fairway into the green, forcing the normally taciturn Luke Donald to take to Twitter to say, “The last group was over a hole behind, we can



AFP/Getty Images

Slow play serial-offender JB Holmes took 4’ 10” to play a single shot from the middle of the fairway into the green at the recent Farmer’s Insurance at Torrey Pines HK GOLFER・MAR 2018


AFP/Greg Wood

The European Tour started off on tackling slow play with the Perth Super-6 - three rounds of conventional strokeplay with 24 players qualifying for a Sunday match-play shoot-out



all blame JB... and yes the player should take responsibility for their pace of play, but if they don’t, that’s why we have Tour officials - they needed to step in a while ago.” But, like all organisations owned by and run in the best interests of their members, the PGA TOUR did precisely nothing. The R&A did what the R&A does best, formed a committee, producing a report, The Pace of Play Manual, 76 pages of hypothetical postulations, the focus on the club golfer, when a serious slow play is right there under their noses, on the pro circuits of the world. A nd, don’t forget t he ted ious, t imeconsuming tangle on the R&A’s own watch, most recently, Jordan Spieth taking 13 minutes to decide how to play the pivotal shot in last year’s Open Championship. Or the 30-minute delay in play, waiting for a ruling involving Lee Westwood and, yes, you guessed it, JB Holmes, three-year-earlier at St. Andrews all within a three-wood of the organisation’s Rules of Golf office. By contrast, the annual Bunker Mentality Challenge took place that same Sunday the PGA TOUR’s finest was ploughing through the Farmer’s Insurance schedule. Our three-

ball was for bragging rights only, where the temperature some 20∞C colder than California and were also hitting 40%-50% more shots than the 217 Holmes & Co. accumulated. The European Tour has taken a somewhat different line to its transatlantic cousin. Recognizing that slow play is deeply damaging, not only to the broader game of golf but also its development as it’s clear fewer and fewer fans can justify lounging all day Sunday watching other people playing an altogether different form of the game they play but at a funereal pace. Under the colourful stewardship of CEO Keith Pelley, the European Tour is tackling slow play head-on. With a variation of formats all based around the same theme, speeding things up and making golf more digestible to on-course galleries and TV audiences alike. The Perth Super-6 started it all off, three rounds of conventional strokeplay with 24 players qualifying for a Sunday match-play shoot-out. Then there was the Golf Sixes, started last year and continuing this, a hybrid of team golf and a short-form format. Another new event, the Belgian Knockout, hosted by Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters incorporates a head-to-head st rokeplay



When golf does get its chance to show its wares on the global stage - the Olympic Games - its conservative default position of 72-holes, strokeplay kicks-in, when the Olympic format, as in tennis, head-to-head knock-out is the logical route to take. Nathan Homer, Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer of the European Tour, says “GolfSixes combines the camaraderie and intrigue of team golf with the drama and intensity of a shorter format. The players love it, and the fans enjoy the different, more entertaining atmosphere. “Golf needs a route for younger fans, groups of adults and families to get involved. We know that GolfSixes appeals to those audiences while still offering something to our die-hard fans. We have to keep innovating in order to grow our appeal, and the statistics suggest GolfSixes can have a powerful presence in the golfing calendar.” Let’s hope he’s right, but with participation numbers and TV ratings heading south at an alarming rate, perhaps, for golf, far too late to the table with its version of T20 cricket or rugby sevens, the stable door may be being closed long after the proverbial horse has bolted.

Head-to-head knock-out is a logical route to take for golf at the Olympic Games


AFP/Greg Baker

knockout format. With the opening two rounds following the familiar strokeplay format for 36 holes, before the leading 64 players go head-to-head in knockout strokeplay matches contested over nine holes on the weekend to determine the winner. Then, there is an event that sounds like aversion therapy, a veiled threat, the ‘Shot Clock Masters,’ in Austria in which every player is effectively on-the-clock throughout. And, finally, there is what the European Tour and its beleaguered half-sister, the Ladies European Tour will be hoping is the game-changer, the European Golf Team Championship at Gleneagles, where men, women and mixed doubles will feature for the first time in the professional game. A l l of wh ich cou ld be const r ued as, ‘Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,’ when, in reality, with all the tools and rules available, the solution lies in simply enforcing the rules it already has on its members to wipe out slow play. It ’s golf ’s equivalent to the football’s perennial problem of players diving in penalty boxes the world over; send the worst miscreants for an early batch for, problem solved.



Together, anything’s possible on the


AFP/Getty Images

As Chuah Choo Chiang writes, the PGA TOUR has taken the lead to make a difference beyond establishing global golf stars who make headlines every week.



Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, launched the “Birdies for the Brave” programme over ten years ago to help build homes for disabled troops and provide educational support for spouses and children of servicemen and women killed in action HK GOLFER・MAR 2018



The Sony Open “Drive To A $Million” charity initiative culminates in successfully reaching the milliondollar goal for the 13th consecutive year in 2017 44


uc h ha s b e en t he i mpac t of t he PG A T OU R’s Toget her, Anything’s Possible charitable platform t hat Swed ish golfer Jonas Blixt succinctly explained what it meant to see thousands of lives being touched beyond the ropes. “I feel like playing on the PGA TOUR almost comes second,” said the three-time TOUR winner. “ What we get to do for charity, what the PGA TOUR gives back to the community is the greatest thing about playing on the PGA TOUR.” Indeed, beyond the push to excel in the professional game and beyond the pursuit of golfing greatness, the PGA TOUR’s stars and the tournaments that form its annual schedule have joined forces to go beyond the game and impact the lives of people in places where the TOUR visits. I n 2 017, t h e P G A T O U R a n d i t s tournaments generated more than US$180 million for charitable causes, surpassing t he prev iou s ye a r ’s re cord a mou nt by approximately US$14 million. The landmark a nnouncement raised t he a l l-t ime tota l generated for charity by the PGA TOUR to US$2.65 billion. From supporting children’s hospitals to

mobilising disaster relief, building homes for disabled troops and providing educational opportunities for kids, raising awareness and research for cancer and autism to provide food aid, the PGA TOUR has taken the lead to make a difference beyond establishing g loba l gol f st a r s who ma ke he ad l i ne s every week. “The entire PGA TOUR family takes tremendous pride in the positive impact that we continue to make each year through the millions of dollars that are raised for very deserving charitable organizations,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “As we often note, beyond the sheer dollar amount, the real story is in the hundreds of thousands of lives that benefit from these contributions every year.” In 2017, five PGA TOUR events raised more than $10 million for charity - the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Valero Texas Open, DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, the John Deere Classic and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Also, the Presidents Cup announced a record donation of more than $10.7 million while the TOUR’s f lagship event, T H E PL AY ERS Cha mpionship, generated $8.7 million. In the spirit of giving back, golf stars, both past and present, have chipped in over the HKGOLFER.COM

years to make a difference for the less fortunate. Golf’s Big Three Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the late Arnold Palmer - participated in a one-day event back in 2010 wh ich ra i sed a n a stou nd i ng US$15.2 million in a single day for a mission school. Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, launched the “Birdies for the Brave” programme over ten years ago to help build homes for disabled troops and provide educational support for spouses and children of servicemen and women killed in action. Oly mpic gold meda l l ist , Justin Rose, and his wife, Kate used their foundation to help underprivileged students via a school lunch programme called “Blessings in a Backpack” where for many kids, lunch at school on Friday is their last meal until they return on Monday for breakfast. A s par t of its sponsorship of the season-long FedExCup on t he P G A T OU R , Fe d E x commits US$1 million in annual donations to benefit non-profit organisations. The contributions align with FedEx Cares, a global giving initiative, in which FedEx is i nvest i ng $20 0 m i l l ion i n over 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver solutions for people around the world. S out h Kore a’s K .J. C hoi , the f irst Asian Tour graduate who made it big i n A merica by winning eight PGA TOUR titles including THE PLAYERS Championship in 2011, has a big heart as well. When Hurricane Ha r vey h it Hou ston , Choi donated US$100,000 for relief efforts. “ Watching t he chaos and devastation, I felt the need to get involved and support the residents of Houston,” he said. Support for ailing PGA TOUR stars is never forgotten. In January, the TOUR launched “January for Jarrod”, a fundraising effort to help Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle meet his medical costs after undergoing a third bone marrow transplant for acute Myeloid leukaemia. HKGOLFER.COM

Olympic gold medallist, Justin Rose, and his wife, Kate used their foundation to help underprivileged students via a school lunch programme called “Blessings in a Backpack” As the lifeblood of the professional sport, corporate support has been critical too with the likes of TOUR marketing partner, Metlife entering the second year with its innovative season-long charitable initiative called Metlife MatchUp, a weekly competition between two players who most successfully navigate tough situations on the golf course. The winner is determined by a fans’ vote, and US$1 million will then be channelled to his chosen charity. Last year’s MetLife MatchUp winner Bubba Watson said, “My fans are really the ones who made this happen. They made it possible for me to give back to the Pensacola community where the US$1 million prize was used to further two causes, our local children’s hospital and junior golf efforts in the area.” Indeed, when everyone comes together for a worthy cause, anything’s possible. Chuah Choo Chiang is the Senior Director, Communications of PGA Tour and based in TPC Kuala Lumpur HK GOLFER・MAR 2018




Business of


Golf opens doors. There is no doubt about it. As The Kilted Caddie writes, it is a huge plus to have on your CV whether you are applying to university or that coveted career job.


t has without doubt done me no harm and made up for significant shor tcom i ngs on my academ ic front. I almost certainly got into the University of St Andrews as a result of my 3 handicap and not on the back of my slightly lacklustre Higher Grades. That was enough to get me into the first golf team in those days, back in the early eighties. Not a scholarship of course as there was no such thing at St Andrews then. But a place at one of the finest universities in the land. Not that I ever shone there, scraping by with a solid ‘Desmond’ in Economics. However, I did get my golf colours, had a fling with the prettiest girl in the university and a job in the City, for what it was worth (the job I mean!). It can do you no harm in your business career either. Not ultimately for me, I’m



afraid, as I made a disastrous start with one of the big four accountancy firms and am still bruised, if not damaged, by it. My auditing career was dead. Notwithstanding my somewhat unusual career path, however, golf is seen as a huge plus on a CV for a role in the City and other dynamic jobs. In fact, a recent survey found that 73% of business executives and 92% of sales executives said it had helped their careers. Indeed, for carrying out business deals too. Many top executives swear by it. I caddie for a lovely man called John Chiminski, t he Cha irma n a nd CEO of Cata lent Pharmaceuticals. He claims to have done a vast amount of business and concluded significant deals on the fairways. He also adds, rather enthusiastically, that it is where he finds out


AFP/Getty Images

Paul McGinley laughs with businessman J.P. McManus of Ireland during the first round of 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am




Natalie Gulbis (right) and Michelle Wie (left) talks as they walk down the fairway during an LPGA tournament – Should the LPGA restrict the dress code of tour players?

AFP/Getty Images

most of the people too. It’s an instead characterrevealing game. Mr Trump takes note. Is this why St Andrews is such a popular university for American and Asian kids now? The importance and role of golf in this ever more competitive world? Seemingly over 25% of the university population in this ancient university is from the US now. I wonder what percentage of them play golf or indeed take up the game here? Same for our Asian students. Would it be interesting to find out? And it is a career enabler that I think a lot of women are turning to the game. In fact, who can blame young women in America being attracted to it given the abundance of unclaimed golf scholarships flying around? I mean it can be an awful lot of money towards your fees. A lthough I think golf is also perceived as a much sexier game nowadays, this is undoubtedly a massive plus and a huge draw for all and sundry. And in this vein, I don’t quite know what the LPGA is up to in restricting the dress code of tour players? It’s the 21st century. Women have a vote and can get into the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and the R&A for goodness sake. Sex iness cou nts a nd is a huge factor in growing the game I would say. In St Andrews, I see many pretty, and sprightly looking young women with their smart



university emblazoned golf bags, proudly carried on their backs. Such a far cry to the eighties when only a handful of female students played. A shame. L o o k a t D o n a l d Tr u m p n o w. N o t r e g a rd i n g h i s s e x i n e s s o f c o u r s e b u t concerning golf. For it is his big business. In fact, he has made it a rather lucrative one at that and even now manages to do a bit of work in his new job at The Oval Office in between rounds. Mind you he is a genius of course. Although I presume he won’t be talking business on the golf course these days as President, as he’s not allowed. He is reputedly a pretty canny golfer. Perhaps as good a golfer as Obama? Albeit I know who has an infinitesimal better chance of being put up for the R&A and it’s not Donald. There are some things which money certainly can’t buy. Golf courses yes, even iconic Scottish championship golf courses. But as for obtaining membership at certain clubs? That is a mighty different matter. Now, it is interesting that the two people I know who have turned down offers to join the R&A are not in the world of business. One is a QC and the other a doctor. I dare say that if a chap in the City were offered to be ‘put up’ he would rather bite your hand off at


Tiffany Chan, who has gained her LPGA card in 2018, is an excellent example of Hong Kong golfers being granted golf scholarships in the US to further their careers


architecture. She went from a twenty handicap to a five in that year and then got a Clive Woodward Foundation scholarship to focus on her golf. She took a ‘sabbatical’ and was based at Wentworth playing golf full time. She got to plus 3 in her couple of years there and had just turned pro! In this case, it is not back to the drawing board for her just yet! However, a word of caution. Youngsters who make golf their career and business should appreciate how lucky they are and not be consumed by it to the detriment of themselves. I think this happened to Tiger. It destroyed him. And I have heard shocking stories of top pros arriving on the first tee at Pro-Am to tell their amateur partners that they don’t give advice and that they don’t talk! Moreover, I witnessed first-hand the awful behaviour of one young pro in the Dunhill last year towards his distinguished amateur playing partner, which honestly made me cringe. I will leave with the most wise and poignant words of HK based golfer Jean van de Velde who says, ‘if you let golf define you as a person then you are a loser’. It is only a game, albeit a potentially life changing game at that. Please go to to find out more about The Kilted Caddie.

AFP/Getty Images

the chance. In fact, I’d bet some would offer to pay rather a lot of money to be ‘put up’? It’s certainly a good card to have. I certainly know of a few Far Eastern businessmen who were more than happy to have had lunch and a wee tour around that famous club. I was speaking to a hedge fund manager last summer, Yann, who casually dropped in that he was joining Wentworth and paying the 130,000 pounds like it was a throwaway fiver. I wonder what he’d pay to get in the R&A? We got onto talking about the rather magnificent and pricey houses adorning the Wentworth course. I told him that my father had a friend who had owned one, the big one by the seventeenth green. Anyway, I added that the chap ended up in Wandsworth to which Yann replied, ‘Oh it’s nice there too’. To which I replied, ‘No, the prison!’ And he laughed. It is nice to see now that a few young HK golfers are applying for and being granted golf scholarships in the US to further their careers. Most notably, Tiffany Chan, who has just gained her LPGA card, coming second in Q School. Incredible opportunities are open nowadays. I heard a lovely story just yesterday from an old Edinburgh acquaintance. His daughter was a hockey internationalist and didn’t start golf till her first year at university studying












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A 2,011km Golf Odyssey Across Mongolia The

Longest Hole Part 2

Former Hong Kong rugby player Adam Rolston and caddie-friend Ron Rutland continue their journey across the northern part of Gobi Desert, which is the most notorious area in Mongolia. As Rolston recalls, it is easily the hardest five days in his whole life‌ Photography by Andrew King and Adam Rolston





“We are heading from Khovd to Bayankhongor, which is 750km in between, in the mid-section of our trip. We are going through the northern Gobi Desert across the Khovd mountain, which is the most notorious area in Mongolia. It’s beautiful but extremely dangerous and daunting - 40 degree Celsius from 10am until 5pm.”

"We have to wake up at 4am to start our day and play golf until 9:30am. Otherwise, it would just be too hot afterwards. So, we have to set up a camp during the day, just lying inside the tent to beat the heat, before we can continue playing on, until about 6pm."

“There was a period, where we were going to a town calls Bulgan, which is 140km away. We were told we were not going to see anyone. But we ended up bumping into a family. They surprisingly live out in this remote area. And they have a well to feed livestock like their camels and sheep. So, we were able to restock our water half way. But the water was extremely salty and was difficult to drink. But we ended up making it through that dry period.�

“We have to take all water and supplies for a 5-day period. We have to plan it perfectly, or we would be screwed. We carried 70 litres of water, which is a lot of weight (70kg) that Ron has to pull. The golfing at this section was reasonably OK. The terrain was so flat and dry. But for Ron, he has to pull a lot more weight. And we have a dog who needs water as well. We have to limit ourselves to drink 3-4 litres of water per day.�

“It was easily the hardest five days in my life. It was mixture boredom during the day. The most intense heat I have ever felt. Without a doubt, the hardest physical work I have to do, intensively for a certain period. After five days in the desert, Ron and I cruised in a town, all we were thinking was a cold drink. And the cold coke we had was the best drink I have had ever ever…”

“Now we are in the middle section of the trip. Mentally, Ron and I have felt that the real hard part has finished. We have done the desert and finished about 1,000km – glacier, rain, sleet, snow and we came up in the dry part of Mongolia, northern Gobi Desert – and now we are in the golden part of Mongolia, the Khangai Mountain. It is almost the time we can enjoy our journey. It’s still difficult as we have to finish 30km per day. There was water around and we were able to see a lot more people, more culture, which made the golfing and carting much easier for us.” Rolston and Rutland have so far raised £15,000 for charity Laureus Sport for Good, which uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage and supports over 100 projects in 35 countries. They are awaiting verification from Guinness World Records to officially make it the Longest Hole in Golf after the European Tour gave it the rubber stamp as a single golf hole. The journey will be continued…


Image courtesy of VisitFife

The 10th hole of Elie, a beautiful links course on the fringes of a delightful fishing village, another jewel in the Fife Kingdom’s crown 64





With over 50 golf courses in its midst, the Kingdom of Fife can count itself a fully-paid-up member of the aristocracy of the royal and ancient game, much more than simply the Old Course and St. Andrews. As Mike Wilson writes, there can be no better place on Planet Earth to enjoy the unrivalled authenticity of the area the game of golf calls, ‘Home’.


ver the years, many countries have laid claim to golf’s birthright, Holland and even China, but there is but one authentic contender, Scotland. Historical records reveal that the game enjoyed today by almost 75million people worldwide was first played on the east coast of Scotland, in the Kingdom of Fife, during the 15th century. St. Andrews is at the epicentre of Scottish (and global) golf, a world-renowned university town, where Prince William first met Kate Middleton, now his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge. It’s magnificent - if ruined - Cathedral predating golf by 350 years, home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and the R&A, the global governing body for golf apart from the USA. The Old Course completes with solemn


iconography. The first tee and 18th green presided over by the austere R&A clubhouse, the Swilken Bridge, the Road Hole Bunker and the Valley of Sin all add credo to the world-accepted narrative that this is not only the #1 golf course in the world. But, arguably, the most compelling and authentic site of particular sporting interest anywhere on earth. Local Parish records confirm that, on 14th May 1754, twenty-two ‘Noblemen’ and ‘Gentlemen’ contributed to the purchase of a silver golf club, ‘To be played for annually over the Links of St. Andrews.’ But, today, 264-yearon, St. Andrews itself offers ten world-class golf courses, eight of which are open to all, subject to reservation, whilst the other two are readily available to visitors. For a small town such as St. Andrews to have two distinguishing features - golf and education



St. Andrews has two distinguishing features - golf and education

The famous Swilken Bridge at the Old Course, St. Andrews

Image courtesy of VisitScotland

- seared into its soul is genuinely remarkable. A permanent population of around 17,000 is augmented by just under 9,000 students, almost half-a-million golfers and golf-related visitors to the town each year. Nearly 50,000 rounds of golf played annually on the Old Course alone. And yet, paradoxically, St. Andrews never seems busy, life unfolding at a laidback pace, a perfect antidote the rough-and-tumble of contemporary life. Forget the ‘Auld Grey Toon,’ moniker attached to St. Andrews; that refers to the stonework used throughout much of the town. But there is a vibrant, vigorous and on occasions, happy vibe of the city as visitors and locals alike eat well, drink heartily and take the air along miles of beaches or meandering through a network of small, secretive but safe streets, morning, noon or night. One gets the true sense of the history and heritage of golf at St. Andrews when a course called, ‘The New,’ dates back to 1895, the world-famous Old Course, host venue for the Open Championship on 29 previous occasions, 30 in July 2021. Both old and even older part of the seven-strong string of public courses managed by the town in trust. Of the seven, only the nine-hole Balgove cannot be booked in advance - that’s 66


even easier, just turn up and play - whilst for the rest, including the Old Course, there are three ways of enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience. First, advance online reservation. Secondly as part of a package purchased through an accredited operator. Or, thirdly - and this is the same for the Old Course as it is for the others - just rise early, get to the starter’s box around dawn, complete with clubs. And, if there are spaces, and you’re near the front of the queue, you may find yourself following in the footsteps of legends like Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Peter Thomson and Sam Snead, all winners of the Claret Jug at golf’s equivalent of Mecca. Playing the Old Course at St. Andrews is a truly memorable and unique experience - it’s just impossible to play tennis on Centre Court at Wimbledon or football at the Maracana. But teeing-off in front of the venerable R&A Clubhouse, a golfing delicacy awaits. Vast, double greens can present putts of 100ft and more. The bunkers, all 112 of them, some, like the ‘Coffins’ and ‘Hell,’ every bit as ominous as they sound, with their revetted faces, even harder to get out of then to get into it. Iconic holes such as the 17th, ‘Road Hole,’ and the 18th. Be sure to take a moment to pause for a photograph on the world famous Swilkan Bridge, and to avoid the Valley of Sin if you can, holing out on the 18th green where 29 Open Championships have been won and lost to date. But there’s more - much more - to golf at St. Andrews than the pure majesty of the Old Course. The two courses at the Fairmont Resort are as good a test of authentic links golf as it’s possible to get. The Castle Course - part of the St. Andrews Links Trust portfolio - is another favourite, all three offering-up some magnificent views of the town below and the sweeping St. Andrews Bay. St. Andrews is also well served when it comes to accommodation, something for all tastes and budgets, from the five-star luxe deluxe Old Course Hotel overlooking the Road Hole and the Fairmont on the edge of town to the chic Hôtel du Vin in the heart of the city. Two others, Rusacks, which backs onto the 18th hole of the Old Course and the 24-room Rufflets Country House Hotel are firm favourites with golfers. Then there is the Peat Inn Restaurant with Rooms, no more than a dozen miles from any of Fife’s fifty-plus golf courses, as well as an excellent range of lower-cost options, first-class Bed & Breakfast establishments and Guest Houses, plus a wide choice of self-catering properties. And there’s no shortage of opportunities to eat out in St. Andrews either. From haute cuisine to informal dining, you’ll never go hungry in the Auld Grey Toun. HKGOLFER.COM

Sunrise at the magnificent Kingsbarns 1st hole


Image courtesy of Kingsbarns Golf Club The 15th of Kingsbarns is another stunner

occupying the links land that was traditionally set aside for the royal and ancient game between the coast and viable agricultural ground inland. Secondly, heathland courses resplendent with heathers and pine trees and finally parkland, often featuring avenues of magnificent, mature deciduous trees. One of those courses, a hybrid of links and heathland is Scotscraig Golf Club, the furthest north of the Kingdom, which last year celebrated its bicentenary, the 13th oldest golf course in the world. Another jewel in the Kingdom’s crown is Elie, a beautiful links course on the fringes of a delightful fishing village. The ups-and-downs of elevation from sea level to the highest point on the course are the equivalent of three double-decker buses stacked on to of each other. Crail Craighead is another fine, pure example of links golf. Opened in 1998, this 6,728-yard Par-72 is something of a rookie compared to some of the more venerable close-by courses. But it has matured well, throwing down the gauntlet not only to its elder relatives but also to the golfer, especially when the wind blows. Crail Craigend is the most easterly course in Fife, along with its elder cousin, Crail Balcomie, laid out by Old Tom Morris 103 years before Craigend opened for HK GOLFER・MAR 2018

Image courtesy of Kingsbarns Golf Club

Most famous of all, the Jigger Inn sits within touching distance of the Road Hole and is a must for any golfer visiting the Home of Golf. Forgan’s housed in an old golf club-making factory makes full use of locally-sourced produce, Vic St. Andrews blends goof food with a friendly ambience, whilst the Tailend Restaurant & Fish Bar serves the best fish-and-chips in town. And those canny Scots know not to overcharge, which explains not only above average occupancy levels but also the frequency of repeat visitors, golfers and non-golfers alike. Some of the most exceptional visitor value, without compromising on quality and service is to be found in some of the smaller harbour towns and fishing villages down the East Neuk of Fife. In much the same way as there is much more to St. Andrews than just golf, there is far more than merely St. Andrews to the Kingdom of Fife. Given the dominance of the ‘Auld Grey Toon,’ can be wrongly perceived as a ‘One-trick-pony.’ Fife counts almost 50 golf courses within its boundaries - and the Kingdom conveniently embraces another Open Championship venue, Carnoustie, just 15m from its northern border, where the Claret Jug will be fought over in July this year. Some of Fife’s courses are amongst the oldest in the world. Others, like the magnificent Kingsbarns and Fairmont St. Andrews contemporary, but right out of the top drawer nevertheless. The Kingdom’s golf offer falls into three distinct categories of course. First, those


The 5th of Fairmont St. Andrews is a good test of authentic links golf

The 6th hole has a contemporary touch

Image courtesy of Fairmont St. Andrews

play. Two famous golf courses in one small harbour town, population, 1,800. Ladybank Golf Club, 15 miles inland from St. Andrews and an hour’s drive from Edinburgh Airport. It has hosted the St. Andrews Open Championship qualifying events on seven occasions since 1978 and at 6,500-yards off the back tees offers a compelling test of golf, a ‘must-play’ in any golfing trip to Fife. Meanwhile, down in the south of the Kingdom, the less-fashionable part of Fife when it comes to golf. Exceptional golf courses such as Dunfermline (where the game has been played since the 16th century), Kirkcaldy (playing a round at the town’s Tom Morris-designed 1904 course costs US$41.75. at peak season) and Aberdour Golf Clubs would stand out on almost every other golfing map of the world. In addition to its abundance of golf courses suitable for most standards of ability, there are several distinctive characteristics for which the royal and ancient game in the Kingdom of Fife are renowned. Firstly, it’s the ‘People’s game’. Most of the courses in the region are either open to the public or highly visitor-friendly. A natural empathy with the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of golf, speaking the universal language of the game. Secondly, it’s generally informal. Many of the old conventions, such as not playing in shorts and having to wear a tie in the clubhouse were driven out of 68


bounds a long time ago. And, because it’s the ‘People’s game,’ golf in Fife is relatively cheap. A round over the famous Old Course costs between US$122.00 -244.00 from off-peak to peak season. The Castle Course, US$83.00–166.00, whilst playing a round at Kingsbarns, consistently ranked well within the top-50 golf courses in the world may appear expensive at US$313.00 per round. But with a 50% discount on a second round booked within a week and the overall quality of the course, it’s worth every penny. But it’s hard to find a quality links course in the Kingdom of Fife charging visitors more than US$150.00 per day. And most have über-generous discounts for juniors and ‘Twilight’ golf (in midsummer, golf can readily be played in Scotland up until 11pm) for US$45.00. There can be no better cost-to-quality ration anywhere in the world. In fact, with some research and judicious use of discounts and concessions, even in midseason, and even allowing for one ‘Splash-the-cash’ game at one of Fife’s five, ‘Trophy’ courses. A week’s green fees in the Kingdom can readily be had for well under US$1,000, hardly a King’s Ransom. Thirdly, Fife’s courses are amongst the bestkept in the world. Not in the over-designed, heavily-landscaped and the manicured kind that is the modern norm, but as golf courses were meant to be. Neatly-cropped fairways providing perfect lies, greens inviting putts to drop, authentic hazards like streams, natural inland ponds, miles of rugged coastline and deep, pot bunkers with HKGOLFER.COM

Scotscraig Golf Club is at the furthest north of the Kingdom, the 13th oldest golf course in the world


Crail Craighead is another fine, pure example of links golf Top: Image courtesy of Scotscraig Golf Club; Below: Image courtesy of Crail Golfing Society

faces formed out of layers of turf, the traditional Scottish links craft called ‘revetting.’ Then we have the weather question. Forget the myth about four seasons in one day. The truth is that the east coast of Scotland, which the Kingdom of Fife forms a considerable chunk, actually has some of the best climatic conditions in the country. According to the Met Office data, St Andrews enjoys more annual hours of sunshine than London and lower yearly rainfall than Paris. Whilst the Fife Coast has 31% more sunshine hours than the Scottish and 14% more than the UK on average, receiving only 43% of the average Scottish rainfall, and just 58% of the UK median. In Spring, changeable weather can be expected, with many sunny intervals interspersed with occasional light rain showers. Whilst summer days - which can last for up to 19 hours of daylight - are generally warm and sunny, with teasing sea breezes testing those golfing out on the links. Meanwhile, autumn often sees long, settled and sunny periods of weather. Perfect for the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which attracts many of the world’s best golfers and stars of sport, stage and screen, a fixture now in the sporting calendar going into its 18th successive year. In many ways, the Kingdom of Fife can be viewed as a Russian Matryoshka Doll, the more one finds, the more layers are revealed. And, whilst golf is central to the Fife tourism economy, worth almost £25m each year, much,

much more when the Open comes to town, it’s far from the only show in the city. The Cathedral of St Andrew is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, built in 1158 and containing the last resting places of many members of the clergy, academics from the town’s University, after Oxford and Cambridge, the third oldest in the UK. As its name would suggest, the Kingdom of Fife has a distinctly regal and aristocratic ring to it. And in terms of its history in general and steeped in the annals of golfing time in particular, there is so much to take in, on and off the course, indeed far too many jewels in the county’s crown to mention. But visit Fife, specifically to play golf or for a well-earned family break including a sprinkling of golf, you will find the friendliest and most welcoming, down-toearth people, informed and informative, especially about the sport that has grown up in their midst. And, I promise you, whether taking on the subtle intricacies of the Old Course or the might of Kingsbarns, or simply trundling around the nine-holes of the Balgove Course or Leven Links, you will go home happy, inspired, with a smile on your face and vow to come back again, and again, and again. HK GOLFER・MAR 2018


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KNOW THE RULES! ©2018 Dr Milton Wayne

ACROSS 1. (& 16D, 25D) Usual distance you drop within to take your 35A 3. See 11A 8. Wooden pole that marks trouble spots 9. See 11A 11. (& 3A, 9A) GUR for short 12. (& 5D) Beyond the course (3,2,6) 17. See 14D 19. See 18D 23. Sand trap 27. (& 30A, 32A) You’ll see red if you are in here 30. See 27A 31. (& 26D) Local rule when it’s muddy, do both these things before you “place” 32. See 27A 34. See 29D 35. (& 4D) Punishment you take to get your ball back in play 36. Rules arbiter on the course



DOWN 2. See 6D 4. See 35A 5. See 12A 6. (& 2D) A cart path is a good example of this 7. (& 22D) What you hit, just in case... 10. See 20D 13. Costless relief (4,4) 14. (&17A) Bit of natural rubbish you can move 15. See 29D 16. See 1A 18. (& 19A) Anywhere on the course (7,3,5) 20. (& 10D) Scottish rule makers - pic (5,3,7) 21. Posh way to say “plugged” 22. See 7D 24. You can declare your ball is this 25. See 1A 26. See 31A 28. Take a stance, and speak to your ball? 29. (& 15D, 34A) Fairway height turf... 33. You can’t ask your opponent for this HKGOLFER.COM

WIN "THE GOLFERS" PRINT The "ACROSS" clue numbers of the February crossword did not match up correctly. We apologise for the mistake and the correct version of "KNOW THE RULES!" is published in this issue again. To enter, complete the crossword and send a scan or photo of the completed grid to, with “March Crossword” as the subject. Remember to include your name, address and contact number. Entries close on 15 April 2018. A LUCKY WINNER WILL BE DRAWN FROM THE CORRECT ENTRIES. The winner and answer of January crossword will be announced in the April issue.

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The 16th hole at Cypress Point Golf Club

Jonathan Lai Louie Chan talks to the Hong Kong Men’s Close Amateur Champion about his best ever round, favourite courses and his amateur golf career. When did you start playing and where? I was born in HK then moved to Los Angeles at around 18 months. I grew up in Southern California, and I believe I was 4 when my dad took me to the driving range for the first time. He also had never played before, and I remember enjoying practising with him as he learned to golf. My first golf tournament was a US Kids Golf Qualifying event at age 6, but I didn’t start playing junior golf seriously until I was 9, and I’ve been playing ever since. What’s been your best ever round? I believe the lowest round I’ve shot so far was a 63 (-7) during the 2015 Ventura City Championship in California. But I think my personal “best” ever round was during an AJGA event at Sycuan Golf Resort in the summer of 2012. I was four over through my first nine holes, with my swing completely gone, so I decided to start half-swinging and chipping drivers 230 yards down the fairway. I miraculously managed to shoot seven under on the back (1 bogey, six birdies and an eagle) to shoot a 3-under 68. That was definitely the most memorable round I’ve ever played.

Image courtesy of the Ivy League

How would you describe your amateur golf career so far? I think my amateur career has been very well balanced, as I’ve achieved many of my personal goals in golf while still maintaining my academics and my work career. Going to Yale to play for the golf team was an incredible experience for me to learn both in the classroom and on the golf course. Golf has given me the opportunity to travel to many different places in the world, and apparently, as a very competitive person, it provided me with a platform to compete against some of the best golfers in the world. 74


What has been your most memorable moment on a golf course? I think the best moment I’ve ever had on a golf course was walking to the 16th tee at Cypress Point Golf Club during a Yale Golf Team trip. We were in the middle of a qualifier, and I’m usually very focused on the task at hand, but the view on that hole made me completely forget about my score. It was a moment where I completely forgot I was competing and just enjoyed the golf and the scenery. I actually made a double bogey, and I think only one guy on the entire team made a par, but nobody cared because of the surreal experience of playing that hole. Do you have a favourite course? The 16th hole at Cypress Point Golf Club makes the entire course one of my favourite in the world. The only other course I can think of is Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland. It was my first time in Scotland, so it was a new experience playing real links courses. On top of that, the views along the Scottish coast were breathtaking. Who would be in your dream fourball? I’m a huge NBA basketball fan, and even more so of Blake Griffin, so I’d definitely want to play with him. I’d have to take Tiger Woods; he was the best golfer of my generation. And lastly, this might be a little different, but I would pick M Shadows, lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, one of my favourite bands. I know he’s super into golf, so it’d be cool to play a round with him. HKGOLFER.COM


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