HK Golfer Final Shot: Golf in the Olympics - does it really matter?
THE OFF I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E H O NG KO NG GOLF ASSOCIATION
Making the GRADE
Golf in Dubai TPC Sawgrass Hybrid Guide
HK's Juniors Impress on the World Stage Tiffany Chan in action at the MacGregor HK Junior Open
HK Golfer Issue 36
21 | Competing with the Best
10 | Mailbag
26 | Rising to the Occasion
12 | Clubhouse
Full coverage from the HKGA Junior’s Summer Tour
MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Open Junior Championship review in full.
Style, news and stats
34 | Weekend Driver: Darryl O’ Young
News from HK and around the region
16 | Divots
We hit the fairways with Hong Kong’s number one racer.
18 | Tournament Update
37 | Desert Miracle
42 | Course Report
Tee it up in Dubai, the burgeoning mecca of Middle East golf.
47 | Sensational Sawgrass
As host of THE PLAYERS Championship and headquarters of the PGA Tour, the TPC Sawgrass is one of the most revered places in all of golf. We travel to Florida to see for ourselves
The latest event news
46 | Turf Talk
With Rick Hamilton
53 | Pro Shop Hybrid Guide
57 | Instruction With Dr Paul Hurrion
62 | Golf Homes
International Real Estate
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
On the Cover:
66 | Final Shot With Mathew Scott
Tiffany Chan in full swing.
Photo by: Patrick Leung WWW.HKGA.COM
From The HKGA Dear Golfer, I hope you all had a good summer and managed to play plenty of golf. Our juniors had a very busy summer indeed, competing in the Royal & Ancientâ€™s Junior Open in England, the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, the 42nd International Children's Games in San Franciso, the U.S. Kids Golf Championships and the Optimist International in Florida. Six of our kids were also travelling in Southern California wit h National Coach Brad Schadewitz, playing in many tournaments over five weeks. Upon returning to Hong Kong, they played in the Kau Sai Chau Open, the MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Open Championship and the Malaysian Junior Open. Five of our players then represented Hong Kong in the Putra Cup and the Lion City Cup in Singapore. This is the first time that so many of our junior players competed extensively over the summer periodâ€”and it has proved to be a hugely valuable experience for them all. We picked up excellent results (which you can read about inside); notably, Steven Lam with a second place finish at the R&Aâ€™s Junior Open at Hesketh Golf Club, Tiffany Chan winning the Malaysian Junior Open and finishing fourth in her age division at the Junior World Golf Championships, and Liu Lok Tin winning a silver medal at the 42nd World's Children Games. There were many more fantastic results from other players: Marcus Lam, Charles Stone, Mickey Chan, Terence Ng, Jeremy Wong, Demi Mak, Ginger Mak, Nicola Inge, Stephanie Ho, Shinichi Mizuno, Kitty Tam, Sibo Yan, James Inge, Humphrey Wong, Alan Jiang, Tony Jiang and Sihao Yan. They all had either wins or good finishes in the many tournaments they participated. I am very proud to see all their achievements and hope that they will continue to improve and enjoy their golf in years to come. There is nothing like competing at a high level! I have witnessed at first hand the excitement and joy of the players and no doubt that this will stimulate the younger ones to compete and improve. Many of them, I hope, will have the opportunity to play overseas in the future. Finally, now that school has started, remember to study hard and play hard. Kelvin S.K. Inge Chairman of the Junior Section Hong Kong Golf Association
HK Golfer THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION September/October 2008 â€˘ Issue 36
Editor: Alex Jenkins email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sub-editor: Linda Tsang Contributors: Brad Schadewitz, Dr. Brian Choa, Heidi Reyes, Iain Roberts, James Spence, Nicholas Wong Photography: Gareth Jones, Patrick Leung, Robin Moyer Published by:
TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION Times International Creation Limited 20/F, Central Tower 28 Queenâ€™s Road Central Hong Kong Phone: +852 2159-9427 â€˘ Fax: +852 3007-0793 Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Art Director: Mimi Cheng Office Manager: Moira Moran Accounting Manager: Christy Wong Advertising For advertising information, please contact: Matthew Jackson at +852 2832-2914; email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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HK GOLFERăƒťSEPT/OCT 2008
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HK Golfer E-mailbag
Your thoughts, feelings, concerns and felicitations LINKS GOLF, CHINA STYLE
Congratulations on an excellent July/August issue. I picked up HK Golfer for the first time on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco and was very impressed. I love links golf—I visit Scotland and Ireland every summer with a group of my buddies for the very purpose of playing those great seaside courses—so it was wonderful to read about Tiger Beach Golf Links, a course I had never heard of before. It looks awesome—the real deal! I travel to China a lot for business and am already setting aside a couple of days for a visit to experience links golf, China style. Just one question: what will the weather be like in October? I might love links golf, but I don’t love the cold! Congratulations again on your great publication. Bradley Austin San Francisco, CA United States Editor replies: Thanks very much for your comments, Bradley. We’re big fans of links golf too—and at Tiger Beach you’ll find Asia’s finest contribution to the “bump and run” game. To answer your question, predicting the weather in Qingdao is October is like forecasting Scotland’s climate in August. It can be both beautiful and brutal in the same day. But isn’t that what links golf is all about? Pack sunscreen, rain gear and hand warmers. More than likely, you’ll need all three. Enjoy.
WIE – WHY OH WHY?
I have been a fan of Michelle Wie for a long time— even during her terrible recent slump. I know she can get back to her best form, but I simply can’t agree with her (or, more likely, her family’s) recent decision to play (and fail, once again) on the men’s tour. I know David Leadbetter talked about this problem in the last issue. It’s very sad to see. Horace Wong Sha Tin
FANLING – MOST CONSECUTIVE?
This year’s Hong Kong Open will be the fiftieth time the tournament has been played. Every year it has been held at The Hong Kong Golf Club. I was wondering if any other professional championship has stayed at the same venue for longer. Jonas Cheung Sheung Shui Editor’s Reply: Good question, Jonas. Aside from Augusta National Golf Club, which has hosted the Masters Tournament since 1934, we can’t think of one. We’re still checking that—we’ve heard that one of the minor Latin American republics might have a sniff, but, as you can imagine, fact checking is proving a little troublesome. 10
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
I played at a course in Australia last month and was asked to show proof of my handicap. Luckily I had my HKGA handicap card with me otherwise I don’t think I would have been allowed to play. Is this normal procedure? Marble Chui Mid-Levels Editor’s Reply: Yes, Marble, it most definitely is. While many courses in Asia don’t require patrons to prove their playing ability, it’s a different scenario further afield. A great many courses (including the majority of the more prestigious clubs) in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada and South Africa require visitors to have a certified handicap before they’re permitted on the course. Our advice: don’t leave home without your HKGA card.
I see the new publishers are very keen to feature golf travel within the magazine, which is great. But what about new golf equipment? I would love to see more of these kinds of articles in HK Golfer. Steven Chan Lam Tin Editor’s Reply: Well, Steven, let’s hope you enjoy this issue’s guide to hybrid clubs.
Given the number of great unsolicited letters popping up in the HK Golfer inbox, we’ve decided to start awarding prizes for the best of the crop. If you have a question, a cause, or simply a golfing matter that you think deserves recognition, please send your correspondence directly to the editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
The prize for the best letter in the next issue is simply fantastic: a personal lesson with Dr Paul Hurrion, putting coach to three-time major winner Padraig Harringon, during the UBS Hong Kong Open. Wow! Not only does our lucky winner receive worldclass putting tuition but he or she also receives a top-of-the-range GEL putter. Needless to say, keep those letters coming in!
Paul Hurrion WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
I’LL BE HEADING OVER TO THE UK NEXT SPRING AND WAS WONDERING WHAT I NEED TO DO TO GET A ROUND ON THE OLD COURSE AT ST ANDREWS. I KNOW THE COURSE GETS EXTREMELY BUSY BUT I READ SOMEWHERE THAT I STAND MORE CHANCE AS I’LL BE TRAVELLING ON MY OWN. IS THIS TRUE?
Sai Kung’s Golfer Friendly Pub Hong Kong doesn’t have a fullyfledged golf-themed pub, but Steamers in Sai Kung is the next best thing. Ideally situated for those coming straight from a day at Kau Sai Chau (it’s barely a five minute walk from the ferry pier), its wide selection of beers— both bottled and draught—wine and friendly staff has made it arguably the most popular spot for after-work drinks in the community—and a firm favourite with many of those in the Hong Kong golf industry thanks to owner Les Curl’s love for the game. With its open front and tasteful Mediterranean-style décor, Steamers is an interesting cross between gastro pub and local bar, which is reflected in its broad clientele. While the a la carte menu features a number of international favourites, Steamers really comes into its own culinary-wise with a solid line-up of curries and sub-continental side dishes. The lamb biriyani alone is worth a visit. On the sporting front, Steamers runs a flourishing golf society, which organizes regular local outings and overseas trips. Opening Hours: Daily 9am-1am; Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 2pm-9pm
Steamers 18-32 Chan Man Street Sai Kung Tel: 2792-6991 Website: www.steamers.com.hk 12
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
There are a number of ways of getting on the Old Course, although as you correctly point out, demand certainly outstrips supply. Groups of two or more can request tee times online at the official website of St Andrews Links Trust (www.standrews.org.uk), but to have any chance of success through this channel you’ll need to act quickly as spots are limited and normally sell out at least six months in advance. There are numerous tour operators that can guarantee a game on the Old Lady— but these normally involve committing yourself to a longer itinerary, which may not be suitable for you. You would have to pay a premium for the privilege too. The famous St Andrews Daily Ballot—basically a lottery, which requires registration the day before you want to play— offers a good rate of success, especially in the spring, but requires a minimum of two players enter. But don’t despair. The most common way for a single to access the Old Course is by showing up at the starter's shack on the day you wish to play, “as early as possible in the morning,” according to the St. Andrews Links Trust website. The starter will then attempt to pair you up with the first available twosome or threesome. To increase your chances of success, don’t arrive any later than 5.45am. This is when the starter begins his shift. Remember: the Old Course is closed on Sundays and you need to show your handicap card. No handicap = no game. Good luck!
The all-new Singapore Airlines Business Class GOLF GAMES
New Course for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2009 Finally, a computer golf game that includes an Asian course! The 2009 edition of the enormously popular Tiger Woods PGA Tour series from EA Games has a sprinkling of new features, but arguably the best of the bunch is the addition of Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai to the game’s list of courses to play. The Nelson & Haworth-designed layout, which hosts the annual HSBC Champions tournament, joins Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Gary Player Country Club, Wentworth’s West Course and Wolf Creek Golf Club as the game’s new courses.
With the launch of the Airbus A380 —t he long-awa ited “Super Jumbo”—Singapore Airlines have set lofty new heights for premium travel with its all-new business class. Featuring the widest seat in its class— which fold out into fully flat beds— the cabin is arranged with a 1-2-1 seat configuration, which allows each passenger access to the aisle. No more fretting over a neighbours’ legs to get to the bathrooms stocked with fresh orchids and Bulgari products! Also billed as “your office in the sky”, each sest comes equipped with an all-in-one business panel, which includes an inseat power supply and USB ports. While the airline’s much-vaunted in-flight entertainment system, KrisWorld, provides arguably the biggest selection in the sky: over 100 movies and 180 TV shows—all available on demand—are delivered on a sizeable 15.4-inch wide LCD screen. Singapore Airlines currently operates the A380 on its Singapore-Sydney and Singapore-London routes. For more information visit www.singaporeair.com
Fit for Golf – For Free Sports Performance, the unique “one-stop-shop” multi-disciplinary medical centre in Central, is hosting a free seminar on 23 September at 7pm entitled “Fit for Golf.” Based on GolfMED.net and Titleist Performance Institute golf fitness programs, the seminar will cover topics including how to maximize your body for golf, what the professionals are doing and how therapy and training meets coaching. For reservations, call 3420-6663 or email email@example.com. Sports Performance, 8/F, Aon China Building, 29 Queen’s Road Central.
NUMBERS GAME Age of Sergio Garcia when he made his Ryder Cup debut at Brookline Country Club in 1999: 19 years, 8 months, 15 days Faldo, eh? Euro Skipper Visits New Canadian Project European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo on-site at his latest design project—Revelstoke Mountain Resort, an18-hole resort course that will sit at the heart of a luxury ski-resort nestled in the spectacular mountains of British Columbia. Construction will start in spring 2009.
Age of Ted Ray when he made his final Ryder Cup appearance in 1927: 50 years, 2 months, 10 days Number of Ryder Cup Matches won by Europe (including GB&I): 10 Number of Ryder Cup Matches won by the United States: 24 Number of Ryder Cup Matches tied: 2 (1969 & 1989) Total number of Ryder Cup points won by Colin Montgomerie, considered the greatest player to have never won a Major: 21 ½ Total number of Ryder Cup points won by Jack Nicklaus, winner of the most Majors in history: 18 ½
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
In Pursuit of Perfection
One Beautiful Brit It sounds ridiculous to call a car with a seven-figure price tag a bargain. But the 2003 Bentley Continental GT arrived in Hong Kong with a flashbulbpopping style and a 198 mph top speed that had it flying off the shelves like no other luxury coupe in history. The secret to the GT’s relative affordability lay beneath its lovely skin: an aluminum chassis plus engine components and an allwheel-drive system that were designed by Volkswagen (Bentley’s parent) but uniquely engineered for the GT. With the company’s worldwide sales up tenfold since that debut, the HK$3.8 million Bentley Continental GT Speed—its name evoking Bentley’s classic Speed models of the 1920s—seeks an even loftier clientele. An obscenely potent twinturbo W-12 engine (a pair of V-6s conjoined in a W pattern) has been upped to 600 horsepower, making this the first Bentley to crack the 200 mph barrier. The 60 mph mark flies past in 4.3 seconds, which leaves 142 mph to go: not bad for a cruiser that tops two tonnes. To reel it in, add on the largest BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT SPEED brakes on any passenger car and PRICE: HK$3,880,000 you have the most powerful ENGINE: Twin-turbo, 6.0 litre W-12 Bent ley ever. Twent y-inch HORSEPOWER: 600 TORQUE: 553 pound-feet wheels and Pirelli P-Zero tires, WEIGHT: 235 kg adjustable air suspension and ZERO TO 100 km/h: 4.5 seconds sportier tuning for the steering TOP SPEED: 312 km/h give the GT Speed uncanny 14
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
THE 60 MPH MARK FLIES PAST IN 4.3 SECONDS, WHICH LEAVES 142 MPH TO GO: NOT BAD FOR A CRUISER THAT TOPS TWO TONNES handling abilities for such a massive machine. For its driver, the physical sensations of these forces are pleasantly remote. Credit for this goes to a decadently luxurious cabin, a hand-built pasha’s lair of lambswool carpets and artisanworthy wood inlays available in seven timber varieties. Any? Although the trunk fits three golf bags, the back seat holds at best two spoiled children. And let’s not forget that lackluster 10 mpg city fuel economy. But then again, a Bentley buyer could dig for pocket change, add a Prius to the garage and wash away any lingering guilt.—Tristan James WWW.HKGA.COM
there are many which offer a sublime wine experience at a fraction of the cost of their imperceptibly “better” 100 pointer counterparts. To name but a few of my favourites:
2001/2/3/4 Torbreck RunRig (99pts US$250); 2001 D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz (98pts US$100); 2001/2 Penfolds Grange (98 pts US$400); 2004 Kay Brothers Block 6 Shiraz (98 pts USD $100); 2004 Greenock Creek Alice’s Shiraz (98 pts US$95); 2004 Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz (98 pts US$180); 2005 Ch Pavie (98 pts US$325); 2001 Ciacci Piccolomini Riserva (98 pts US$150); 2005 Clos de Pape (98pts US$95); 2005 Cos d’Estournel (98 pts US$280); 1997 Ch Montelina Cabernet (98 pts US$180); 2000 Kissler Pinot Noir Occidental cuvee Elisabeth (99 pts US$350). Top Australian Shiraz from century old wines, a small number of beautifully crafted Californian cabernets and a handful of Chateau Neuf du Papes’ finest stand out as offering consistently outstanding relative value for the discerning wine consumer. Whilst an inch short of perfection as defined by the points system, these are stunning examples of outstanding wine making mastery. Now before you all rush out to pillory your trusted local retailer of fine wines, let me add one more word of admittedly biased advice. Cast your net beyond the retail spectrum and explore the increasingly liquid and refreshingly transparent world of wine auctions. For the astute collector and consumer this has always been the primary field of exploration and discovery of fine wine gems. Better still, the internet has now made the market readily available to all who seek quality at great relative value. Determine what you are seeking, what price you are willing to pay and study the competing offerings of the retailers and the reputable auctioneers. Perfection may be more easily and inexpensively acquired than you imagined. It’s fun too. If you need some guidance, drop me an email at robert@ wineexchangeasia.com. Cheers.—Robert Rees Robert is founder of Wine Exchange Asia, a newly-launched wine auction website serving customers in Singapore and Hong Kong. For more information regarding auction timings, promotions and other details please visit www.wineexchangeasia.com
1990 Petrus (US$4,000); 2000 La Mission Haut Brion (US$1,100); 1986 Lafite Rothschild (US$1,500); 1982 Leoville Las Cases (US$680); 1982 Pichon Lalande (US$680); 1982 Mouton Rothschild (US$1,600); 2005 L’Eglise Clinet (US$950); 1990 Beausejour Duffau Lagarosse (US $850); 1997 Harlan Estate (US$1550); 2002 Harlan Estate (US$1150); 1997 Screaming Eagle (US$3800); 2002 Chris Ringland Shiraz (US$900) Indeed, perfection comes at a hefty price. The good news for those of us with less than Bill Gates’ bank balance is that there is a much larger list of wines that have achieved 98 and 99 which to my mind are so close to perfection that I would gleefully swallow them and my pretensions any day of the week. Better still, WWW.HKGA.COM
Perfection. The word itself draws different and profound responses from all of us. People, objects, moments, achievements—all can meet our individual definition or expectation of perfection. My list (not exhaustive) runs as follows: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein Mother Theresa Nadia, Comaneci, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods; George Best, Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps, the Sistine Chapel, the Pyramids, Ferrari and sharks. Disagree? I certainly hope you do! Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and very subjective. Perfection in wine is similarly controversial and seldom agreed upon. The world’s finest wine critics, possessed of extraordinarily discerning palates, play a tremendously important role in guiding and shaping the wine consumers’ assessment of what we should crave in our glasses. The 100 points system has evolved to become a popular benchmark which we have come to readily identify with and increasingly accept in our quest for guidance of what is desirable in wine. Love it or hate it, it is a fact, and probably the most followed ratings are those of the quixotic Robert Parker Junior. RPJ’s publication, The Wine Advocate describes wines in the 96-100 point category as follows: “An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine in its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.” A very elite group of wines have achieved the perfect 100 score from RPJ, including:
Firm favourite: 2001/2 Penfolds Grange, with a 98 rating, is close to perfection HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Divots HÉLÉNE ET HENRI TO SPONSOR LADIES’ AMATEUR OPEN FOR THIRD TIME For the third straight year, upscale fashion brand Héléne et Henri will sponsor the Hong Kong Ladies’ Open Amateur Championship, one of Asia’s most prestigious amateur tournaments. The event, which takes place from 24-26 September at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, typically attracts the best players from around the Asia-Pacific region—and the 2008 edition is no different with a number of highly ranked players heading to the SAR with the intention of claiming the coveted title. Lidya Ivana Jaya from Indonesia triumphed at last year’s championship at The Hong Kong Golf Club with a three round total of 215 (5-over-par). “I’m delighted that Héléne et Henri will return as title sponsors for a third time,” said Chief Executive of the HKGA Iain Valentine. “Their commitment to golf in Hong Kong is second to none, and in the Ladies’ Open we have one of the events on the regional amateur circuit. It’s shaping up to be another tremendous tournament.”
CHAN APPOINTED NEW TURF ASSOCIATION HEAD
KSC EAST YIELDS FIRST ACE Congratulations to Li Tin-yan on becoming the first golfer to record a holein-one at the newly-opened East Course at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau. Li, seen here with General Manager Cameron Halliday, achieved the feat at the 130-yard fifteenth during his first ever round at the spectacular Nelson & Haworth-designed layout. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Li, a 22-handicapper, who used a 9-iron at the tricky oceanside hole to record his first ace. “I celebrated by buying my friends dinner and a few drinks. It was a great day. The hole-in-one helped me shoot 88, which is a very good score for me.” In true Hong Kong fashion, Li’s one slight regret was that he hadn’t renewed his golf insurance before he struck his wonder shot. “I won’t be able to claim my expenses back,” he laughed. 16
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Christine Chan, superintendent at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course Limited, has been appointed president of the South China Turf Managers Association. The Association, which comprises approximately one hundred consultants, agronomists and course designers from around the region, holds regular meetings and seminars and acts as a community for those in the turf management business. Chan, who joined Kau Sai Chau nearly five years ago from Clearwater Bay, becomes the SCTMA’s first female president since its inception in 1999. Kau Sai Chau General Manager Cameron Halliday said: “We wish to congratulate Christine on her appointment. The Association has served as an excellent regional platform for the sharing of ideas and the development of the sports turf industry. We are confident that Christine will build on this tradition and look forward to continuing our support to the Association during her tenure and beyond.” WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
2008 PGA Championship
2007 Open Championship
Rani Leads Hk Challenge In Malaysia
25th Malaysian Ladies’ Open 20-22 August, Tropicana Golf & Country Club
Rani Pomaereda edged out Demi Mak for top Hong Kong honours at the Malaysian Ladies’ Open. Pomareda, who has been in a rich vein of form of late, finished the tournament in tenth place. Her three round total of 228 was one shot better than Mak who finished in share of eleventh. Ginger Mak was unlucky to miss the cut by just one stroke. Nevertheless, in the team event, which counted scores from the first two rounds, Hong Kong placed third overall, behind winners Thailand and Indonesia.
Chan Prevails In Playoff
2008 Open Championship
Macau Men’s Amateur Championship 28-29 August, 2008, Macau Golf & Country Club
HK Rally Late In Team Championships
48th Putra Cup and 2nd Lion City Cup 25-29 August, 2008, Bukit Course, Singapore Island Country Club
A strong finish earned Hong Kong sixth place at the recent Southeast Asia Amateur Team Championship (Putra Cup). The team, which comprised Stuart Murray, reigning Delaney’s Hong Kong Close champion Roderick Staunton, Eric Saxvik and Mickey Chan, recorded a four round total of 876 (24-over-par) to end the event fifty-three shots behind hosts and runaway winners Singapore. South African-born Murray, a stalwart in the Hong Kong team for nearly a decade, was Hong Kong’s leading player, finishing the individual event in seventeenth place on a score of 290 (16-over-par). In the Lion City Cup, an under-18 team event played concurrently with the Putra Cup over the same James Braid-designed Bukit Course at Singapore Island Country Club, the Hong Kong team of Steven Lam, Marcus Lam, Liu LokPUTRA CUP STANDINGS tin and Charles Stone played some fine 1 Singapore 823 golf enroute to their fifth place finish, 2 Thailand 842 but lacked the consistency to really 3 Philippines 847 challenge for the title. With rounds of 4 Myanmar 857 75, 77, 77 and 72, Steven Lam was 5 Malaysia 861 the SAR’s best-placed player in the 6 HONG KONG 876 individual event, finishing in twelfth. 7 Indonesia 886 “It was a useful week,” declared non8 Papua New Guinea 925 playing captain Joe Pethes. “We weren’t helped a great deal by the weather LION CITY CUP STANDINGS [lightening disrupted play on two of 1 Singapore 862 the four days] but the guys played 2 Thailand 865 well and to finish the way we did was 3 Philippines 891 promising. It sets us up well for the 4 Malaysia 893 Eisenhower Trophy [World Amateur 5 HONG KONG 921 Team Championship] in October.” 6 Indonesia 923
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Cliff Chan won his t h i rd M ac au Men’s Amateur Championship after Australian Mark Leich came unglued at the second hole of a sudden death playoff. The duo, who finished on a two-round total of 148 (six-over-par), parred the first extra hole at Macau Golf & Country Club, before Leich, who had been regularly hitting the ball 40-yards further off the tee than Chan, threeputted from twenty feet at the second to gift Chan the title. Syren Johnstone, playing in his first tournament of the season, finished third on 153. “It was an unfortunate way to end what had been a really close round,” said Chan, who last won the tournament in 2003. “Mark played very well the whole day…I’m just happy to have sneaked past him at the end.” RESULTS 1 Cliff Chan 2 Mark Leich 3 Syren Johnstone 4 Jay Won 5 Nelson Yeung
MAC AUS HKG HKG HKG
148 (75-73)* 148 (74-74) 153 (80-73) 155 (77-78) 159 (80-79)
*Chan won on second playoff hole
MAJOR. MAJOR. MAJOR. Driver. Fairway Wood. Irons. Wedges. Back to back Open Championships. 2 Majors in a row. 3 of the last 6 Majors won. 61 Major championships for Wilson Staff irons. 12 of 14 clubs in Padraig’s bag.
What’s in your bag? HK & Macau Sole Agent:
TEL : (852) 2529 3300
FAX : (852) 2529 2943
HKGA Junior Summer Tour
HK PROS EYE FORTIS SUCCESS
Competing with the
Best Fourteen players, two countries, a multitude of events…how did HK junior golfers get on? Very well, as it turns out…
TOP NAMES CONFIRMED FOR HSBC CHAMPIONS Newly-crowned US PGA Championship winner and Open champion Padraig Harrington has confirmed he will take his place in the field for the 2008 HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai from 6-9 November. The 36-year-old Irishman, who has risen to number three in the world after claiming backto-back Major titles, will renew his rivalry with Sergio Garcia, after the world number four and winner of the 2008 Player’s Championship also declared his intention to take his place at the HSBC Champions. Harrington dramatically duelled with the Spaniard on the final day of the US PGA Championship last month and beat Garcia in a play-off in the 2007 Open Championship to claim the first Major of his career. Ph i l M ickelson, Vijay Si ngh, Trevor Immelman and Adam Scott are also confirmed for the US$5 million event.
2008 HK GOLFER・JULY/AUG GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Derek Fung believes he and teammate David Freeman have what it takes to compete at the Fortis International Challenge, which runs 18-21 September at Kota Permai Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. The Hong Kong duo need to finish third or better to claim a place in November’s Omega-Mission Hills World Cup, and Fung, who represented Hong Kong at the World Cup in 1996 and 2003, reckons the combination of Freeman’s long game and his own short game skills will see them through. “We stand a good chance, I really believe that,” said Fung, who played in the prestigious event the last two times Hong Kong qualified. “David hits the ball a long way—we’ll make a good combination.” Fung also reckons his experience in team competition will help see Hong Kong through to a World Cup berth. “I’ve been there time and time again. They’ll be a lot of good teams trying to qualify this year, but I’ve been around, I know what it’s all about. The key in this event is the foursomes (alternate shot), and I know David well, so I’m expecting good things.” Although Fung, an Asian Tour regular in previous seasons, hasn’t competed on the regional circuit this year, he claims this will be to his advantage. “I feel fresh. I haven’t played a great deal of golf over the past year, but that’s a good thing. I’m really looking forward to competing—and qualifying.” Fung also praised Fortis, the event sponsors, who also support Team Hong Kong. “They’ve done a great job in supporting us, and we hope to do a great job for them,” he said.
Steven Lam enroute to a stellar second place at the R & A’s Junior Open WWW.HKGA.COM
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Junior World’s: the HK team prior to the event; Tiffany Chan with National Junior Coach Brad Schadewitz after her brilliant fourth place finish.
Liu Picks up Silver 42nd International Children’s Games Harding Park, San Francisco, 10-13 July
Liu Lok Tin got Hong Kong off to a great start on the Junior Summer Tour with a brilliant performance at the International Olympic Committee-endorsed International Children’s Games at Harding Park, a former PGA Tour venue. The long-hitting 14-year-old, whose rapid improvement over the past year earned him a spot on the Lion City Cup team down in Singapore, played intelligent golf—rounds of 73 and 75 leaving him in a tie for second place, just shy of the eventual winner. With a silver medal at stake, Liu displayed few nerves in the ensuing playoff a nd overca me his opponent after three holes. “I played well,” said Liu. “I’ve been practicing my short game a lot recently and it really paid off. I’m delighted.” Terrence Ng, Hong Kong’s other entrant, finished in fifth place, following rounds of 75 and 76.
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Terrific Tiffany Finishes Fourth Callaway Junior World Championships San Diego, 13-19 July
This was the big one. The Junior World Championships, as its name suggests, is the most prestigious event in junior golf. Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson have all won titles here. There were to be no victories for Hong Kong players, but the performance of Tiffany Chan, who finished fourth in the Girls 13-14 age division, has her tipped as a future star. With rounds of 74, 71 and 71 over the Oak Glen Course at Sycuan Resort, Chan was in the hunt the whole way. “It was a really great experience,” said Chan, who won the MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Close Championship earlier this year. “I was pleased with the way I played. It could have been even better, but I can’t wait to return next year and try to win.” Other notable results included Sihao Yan’s tie for tenth place in the Boy’s 9-10 age division, Tony Jiang’s share of seventeenth in the Boy’s 7-8 age division and Sibo Yan’s tie for twenty-second in the Boy’s 11-12 category.
So Close for Lam
Top 10 for Stephanie
The R&A Junior Open Championships Hesketh Golf Club, England, 16-18 July
2008 Optimist International Junior World Championships PGA National Golf Resort & Spa, Florida, 24 July – 3 August
While the Junior World’s were taking place in San Diego, across the Atlantic, just prior to the Open Championship, which Padraig Harrington won is such fine style, the R&A’s Junior Open was in full swing. Staged every two years, the 54-hole event comprises the top two under-16 players from each R&A-affiliated nation. Steven Lam and Stephanie Ho were Hong Kong’s picks—and both played admirably. It was Lam, however, who almost pulled off the biggest victory of his amateur career. In tough, windy conditions, the 15-year-old got out of the blocks quickly with consecutive rounds of 73 to snatch the lead heading into the final day. After getting off to a solid start, Lam still led after nine holes in the all-important last round, but at the par-five thirteenth, his luck ran out. A disastrous triple bogey eight—courtesy of a lost ball—meant the St Joseph’s College student lost the advantage. Down, but not out, Lam regained h i s comp o su re w it h a solid run of pars. A birdie at the closing hole would have earned a playoff berth with Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, but it wasn’t to be and he ended in a tie for second with Jordan Spieth of the United States, just one stroke adrift. “I’m disappointed, of course,” admitted Lam. “But I wasn’t nervous. I felt good—I love playing links golf—it was just one bad shot that ruined my round. It was a great tournament to be part of.”
Sweet Swinging: Stephanie Ho finished in eighth place at the Optimist International Junior World Championship.
Just a week after the R&A’s Junior Open, Steven Lam and Stephanie Ho were in action again, this time spearheading the Hong Kong challenge at the Optimist International Junior World Championship in Florida. Against a strong international field, the duo fought off the affects of jetlag and put in determined performances. Lam, playing on the demanding Champion Course, fired rounds of 75, 78 and 77 to finish inside the top-30. But in a role reversal of the week before, it was Ho who finished the stronger. Opening with rounds of 75 and 74, the 15-year-old was up near the leaders. A final round of 77 dashed any hopes of title success, but her eighth placing was an excellent effort in the circumstances.
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magnificently—a 69 on day one put him in a share of the lead. A lackluster 82 on the second day took him out of contention, but a fighting 72 in the final round meant he finished just six strokes shy of the winner, China’s Huang Shuo. Sihao’s older brother Sibo also put in a determined challenge. Stellar rounds of 68 and 70 put the 11-yearold in position for a final day charge. But a disappointing 77 derailed his chances and he had to settle for a share of seventh place.
Sihao Snatches Third US Kids Golf World Championship Pinehurst Resort & Talamore Golf Course, North Carolina, 31 July – 2 August
Wit h a f ield of nea rly one t housa nd international competitors, the US Kids Golf World Championship is the showcase event for junior golfers aged twelve and below, which underlines the significance of Sihao Yan’s gutsy third place finish in the Boy’s Age 9 category. Played at venerable Pinehurst, considered the Home of American Golf, Sihao started
Esprit Series Marcus Lam let’s one fly
Kitty and Lai walk away with Esprit silverware
Other Highlights Nicola and James Inge winning their age divisions at the Alta Vista Summer Championship…Ginger Mak’s fourth place at the US Girls’ Junior Sectional Qualifying… Charles Stone, Marcus Lam, Demi and Ginger Mak and Tiffany Chan for their role in the Chinese team’s victory over Southern California at the Oak Valley Cup…Marcus Lam’s second place at the Friendly Hills Challenge… Liu Lok Tin and Tiffany Chan’s wins at the Indian Canyons Junior Championship…and Tiffany Chan’s tie for second at the AJGA Tee Up Junior Challenge.
Esprit Series Order Of Merit
Kau Sai Chau Junior Open Lam and Chan crowned KSC champions
itty Tam and Lai Ka Long have been named Esprit Series Junior Order of Merit champions following their fine play over the summer. Results accumulated over four events—the Guangdong Junior Open, the Zhaoqing Junior Open, the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Junior Open and the MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Open—counted towards the Series, and it was Kitty and Lai who came out on top with impressive totals. Kitty scored maximum points in all but one event of the series, while Lai was never out of the top five in the four events played. Each was awarded the Esprit Trophy. “2008 was another great year for the Esprit Series Order of Merit,” declared Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association Iain Valentine. “The standard of golf keeps improving and it’s a great set of tournaments for the juniors to compete in. Esprit has done a wonderful job over the past few seasons in sponsoring the Series and our sincere thanks go to them.”
Kitty Tam played great golf in the Esprit Series
iffany Chan added to her already impressive haul of titles this year with a comfortable win at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Junior Open in early August. Chan, 14, carded two consecutive rounds of 75 to finish three shots ahead of Stephanie Ho in second place. Kitty Tam won the Girls’ 11-12 age division with a two-round total of 166. It was a much tighter contest in the Boys’ division where Marcus Lam managed to hold off Steven Lam by just one stroke. Marcus, who carded a solid 73 in the first round, dropped a few shots late in his second round to finish on a two-day total of 149. Steven, who was way off the pace after opening with an 80, rediscovered his form in the second round, firing five birdies over the treacherous North Course to finish with a 2-under-par 70. Sibo Yan took the honours in the Boys’ 11-12 age division, finishing with a 76 and a two-round total of 155.
California Dreaming: players and staff at Oak Valley and Indian Canyons 24
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Results GIRLS’ DIVISION Overall Champion: Kitty Tam 15-17 Champion: Jolia Lo 13-14 Champion: Cheria Heng 11-12 Champion: Kitty Tam 9-10 Champion: Michelle Yan 8 & Under Champion: Vanessa Yan
BOYS’ DIVISION Overall Champion: Lai Ka Long 15-17 Champion: Liu Lok Tin 13-14 Champion: Anthony Tam 11-12 Champion: Lai Ka Long 9-10 Champion: Humphrey Wong 8 & Under Champion: Alan Jiang HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Macgregor Hk Junior Open Championship
Thai Talent (clockwise from far left): Suchaya and Nacha with their trophies; neither Steven Lam or Tiffany Chan could mount any significant challenge; Nacha chips to the final hole.
RISING TO THE OCCASION
Shinichi and Stephanie settle for second after enthralling final day’s play
Photography by Patrick Leung
ong Kong’s juniors might have been pipped to top honours at the MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Open Championship by players from Thailand for the third straight year, but the tournament will be remembered for the emergence of Shinichi Mizuno and Stephanie Ho as international-class performers. Prior to the event, expectations for local success were put firmly on the shoulders of Steven Lam and Tiffany Chan. Lam, 15, who has dominated the domestic golf scene over the past few years, was coming off an impressive run of form, highlighted by his brilliant second place at the Royal & Ancient’s Junior Open at Hesketh Golf Club in July. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Chan was swinging as well as she had ever done, her recent fourth place finish at the Callaway World Junior Championships in California just reward for the countless hours she has spent honing her game over the past twelve months. 26
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But the talented duo failed to make any serious title challenge at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. Despite a 73 in the final round, which lifted him to a share of fourth place, Lam’s hopes had already been extinguished by a 76 on the first day—an unfortunate quadruple bogey eight at the tough thirteenth hole proving to be his undoing. Chan, by contrast, started solidly enough but slumped to a closing 83. “I kept pulling my iron shots,” she bemoaned. Instead it was Mizuno and Ho who were left flying the flag for the SAR—and who very nearly pulled off famous victories. By his own admission, Mizuno hasn’t enjoyed the steadiest of seasons. While long off the tee, the Nagoya-born West Island School student has struggled with his short game; his putting hindering the kind of scoring his brilliant ball-striking deserves. But a recent change of equipment and some lengthy sessions on the practice green has instilled some much-needed confidence, which was much in evidence as he breezed to an opening round of 71. WWW.HKGA.COM
Just two strokes behind eventual winner Nacha Patchana heading into the final day’s play, Mizuno belied any nerves he may have had with a succession of solid pars to start the round. But despite making the turn in only oneover-par, the 14-year-old quickly found himself out of contention as Nacha got off to a flying start, recording three early birdies. But then disaster struck. With a commanding lead, the 16-year old Nacha proceeded to b utcher the thirteenth—his quintuple bogey nine the result of a wayward drive and some uncharacteristically poor course management. A lesser player would have folded under the pressure but to his credit, the Bangkok native bounced back superbly with two quick birdies to see off Mizuno’s dogged challenge. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
“He really let me back in it after the mistake,” said Mizuno, who ended the tournament in sole possession of second place on a two-day total of 146 (6-over-par), four adrift of Nacha. “But I couldn’t take advantage and he played great over the closing holes. I’m a little disappointed—I missed a few chances out there—but overall it’s a good result for me.” It was even closer in the Girls’ Division, where Stephanie Ho’s gutsy run at the title was derailed over the final stretch of holes. A 77 in the first round put the Sha Tin College student just one stroke behind leader Suchaya Tangkamolprasert. But the roles were reversed after a sensational front nine of 1-under-par 34 on the final day put Ho in the ascendancy. Leading by three shots after the thirteenth, the 15-year-old was the victim of her own confidence (see Major Moment sidebar) and a series of three-putts, prompted by an unlikely Suchaya birdie at the fourteenth, meant she arrived at the par-five eighteenth one stroke behind. “I knew I needed to birdie to have a chance; I had to be aggressive,” reflected Ho. “I didn’t hit a very good drive, so I needed to try and play a wood from the rough. But I just gave myself too much to do.” The risky shot didn’t come off and the ensuing double bogey meant she finished the tournament three behind Suchaya in second place. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise stellar performance from Ho, but she can take comfort that as Hong Kong’s highest-placed player in the territory’s premier junior event, she has emerged from the shadow of the Mak twins and best friend Tiffany Chan as one of Hong Kong’s leading female golfers.
And second for Stephanie: Ho’s iron play was solid all week; reflecting on what might have been; Suchaya holed out spectacularly on the fourteenth.
Major Moment Leading by three and in command of the tournament, Stephanie Ho put her tee shot to the par-three fourteenth onto the green and in good position. Her nearest competitor, Thailand’s Suchaya Tangkamolprasert, also found the putting surface but was some thirty feet from the hole, outside of Ho’s marker. Incredibly, Suchaya’s rollercoaster putt found the bottom of the cup for a birdie two. Stunned, Ho proceeded to threeputt, which resulted in a two-stroke swing and, crucially, a loss of momentum. “I was playing well and putting great up until that point,” said Ho. “If anything, I was too confident; I really expected to win the tournament, as Clearwater Bay is one of my favourite courses. But that three-putt changed everything. My approach shots were really good for the rest of the round, but I just couldn’t hole a putt.”
Second for Shinichi: Great driving was the key to Mizuno’s run at the title; a handshake for the champion. 28
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MacGregor winners: Kitty Tam topped the Girls’ 11-12 age division; Sihao Yan prevailed in the Boy’s 9-10 age group.
Despite finishing second in the overall Boy’s and Girls’ categories, Shinichi Mizuno and Stephanie Ho were rewarded for their fine play with victories in the 13-14 and 15-17 age divisions. Congratulations also to Kitty Tam (Girls’ 11-12), Sihao Yan (Boy’s 9-10) and Alan Jiang (Boy’s 7-8) on their division wins.
OVERALL BOY’S TOP TEN 1 Nacha Patchana 2 Shinichi Mizuno 3 Rattanon Wannasrichan 4= Ashwin Bhanu Steven Lam 6= Pitchakorn Tirakul Gregory Foo 8= Jason Ho Mickey Chan Marcus Lam OVERALL GIRLS’ TOP TEN 1 Suchaya Tangkamolprasert 2 Stephanie Ho 3= Thanuttra Boonraksasat Chuang Hsin-yun 5 Hsu Wei-ling 6 Tiffany Chan 7= Michelle Cheung Nicola Inge 9 Stephanie Olea 10 Thitipuk Teeratrakul
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(THA) (HKG) (THA) (SIN) (HKG) (THA) (SIN) (HKG) (HKG) (HKG)
(THA) (HKG) (THA) (TPE) (TPE) (HKG) (HKG) (HKG) (PHL) (THA)
142 (69-73) 146 (71-75) 148 (71-77) 149 (76-73) 149 (76-73) 151 (77-74) 151 (73-78) 153 (77-76) 153 (75-78) 153 (73-80)
149 (76-73) 152 (77-75) 155 (80-75) 155 (78-77) 159 (82-77) 161 (78-83) 162 (80-82) 162 (78-84) 163 (80-83) 166 (83-83)
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We hit the fairways with Darryl O’Young, Hong Kong’s number one racer
arryl O’Young is a cool guy. Very cool, in actual fact. I know this because whilst driving the Porsche Carrera we were zooming round Zhuhai International Circuit in, he answered his phone. There was me, the scared sick journalist, grabbing onto the door handle, my knuckles shining a bright white hue, too frightened to open my eyes and acknowledge the sharp right hand turn ahead of us. Darryl, meanwhile, is chatting away to the caller, completely oblivious to the apparent danger ahead. I shouldn’t have been that worried, of course. Darryl is, after all, Hong Kong’s premier motor racing driver. A man who races both in Europe, in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup—an event which seems him battling it out in front of crowds in excess of one hundred thousand—and in Asia, in the Porsche Carrera Cup, which he has won for the past two seasons. The guy knows how to drive, all right. He puts away his mobile, his eyes focused on the tarmac ahead, and tells me how much he’s looking forward to playing golf later. Of course! The reason I’m here is because Darryl has a new love—one that takes him away from the turbocharged engines, the glamorous post-race cocktail parties and the pit lane chicks. Darryl loves golf. “I think drivers and golfers are very similar in what they do,” Darryl says as we motor our way—by golf cart this time—to the first tee at Lakewood Golf Club, which neighbours the Zhuhai track. “When I’m driving, I’m not thinking about my technique, I’m not thinking about how to drive—it comes automatically. Good golfers are the same. When they swing, they’re not thinking about how they’re actually going to hit the ball—it’s automatic. They’re just doing what comes naturally to them.” Darryl, by his own admission, hasn’t yet reached that stage of his golfing career. But in fairness, he’s only been playing the game for a little over six months. This Lakewood jaunt is only his third time on the golf course. “I’m getting better,” he laughs, after connecting nicely with his second effort off the tee. [After skewing my own shot way right of the landing area, it was quickly decided that we’d be fairly liberal in the mulligan department]. “The first time I kept score I had 125, and the second 34
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time was 120. If I can continue at that rate I’ll be very happy.” Born and raised in Canada, Darryl was introduced to the world of motor sport at the age of eight by his father. A natural, Darryl progressed quickly through local competitions before becoming, in 2000, national karting champion of both Canada and the United States. “That was a definitely a big achievement for me,” remembers Darryl. “I always wanted to be in racing, and that year was special. It was a great platform from which I could build upon.” His abilities behind the wheel confirmed, Darryl had little trouble finding cars to drive. A stint in Formula Ford (three wins and two runner-ups in five races) was followed by invitations to compete in Formula Renault and an eclectic range of events, including endurance and sprint racing. Darryl takes road safety very seriously
O’Young at Zhuhai International Circuit, July 2008 WWW.HKGA.COM
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for being a little highly strung. Not Darryl. He was constantly cracking jokes and laughing at himself after any errant shots. “People have that impression,” he says when I bring up the matter. “But most of the drivers are pretty relaxed guys. When we’re driving we’re focused, of course— we have to be. But you have to chill out as much as possible away from the track. That’s part of the reason why I love golf.” Darryl tasted success early on arrival in Asia. Victory at the Macau Grand Prix (his favourite track and where he currently holds the lap record) in 2005 was followed a year later by his maiden Carrera Cup Asia championship title. That success helped him become, in 2007, the first Chinese driver to make the leap to the Europe-based Porsche Supercup. “It’s another level,” admits Darryl. “The difference between qualifying in pole position and somewhere way down the field can be as little as two-tenths of a second. I’ve enjoyed it. I haven’t had the results I would have liked so far, but I’m still learning the tracks. I’m looking forward to a strong rest of the season.” After nine holes, and 57 shots, Darryl is well on course to beat his personal best. His driving (on this track at least) has been a little wayward, but he’s struck some sweet irons and his short game has been extremely solid. His swing is nice and compact and when he times it well, the ball flies vast distances. I’m no pro, but he clearly has potential by the bucketload. “I wish I could play more,” he bemoans. “I try to go to the driving range when I can, but it’s not easy during the season. I’ll really make an effort to get on the course more and take some lessons.” Unfortunately, after just a few more holes, an enormous thunderstorm descends on the course meaning a return to the clubhouse and an end to our game. On the way back I ask him how far he really wants to go with his golf. “I don’t have any expectations,” he says. “I’d like to improve, obviously, and become more consistent, but I don’t see myself becoming a really good player. I love golf, but I’m happy just playing it for fun.” I don’t believe a word of it. Fun or not, for someone as naturally competitive as Darryl, there’s no way he won’t motivate himself to improve. Single figures? Watch this space.
Having a laugh: Darryl after a less than perfect shot 36
In 2004 Darryl made the decision to move to Hong Kong where he joined Team Jebsen and began competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. The move to the SAR, says Darryl, was logical. “My family is from Guangdong; we speak Cantonese back in Canada and I love the city. I wanted to try racing in Asia and it’s worked out. Hong Kong is definitely home for me now.” To follow Darryl’s progress in the Porsche Mobile1 By anyone’s standards, Darryl is a remarkably relaxed guy. In the afternoon we spent together SuperCup and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia visit his he was charm personified and displayed none blog at www.darryloyoung.com. of the Michael Schumacherlike stroppiness that I had been What’s in Darryl’s Bag? expecting from a man in his Driver: TaylorMade r7 CGB Driver 10.5 (S Flex) profession. I wouldn’t blame him Woods: TaylorMade r7 CGB – 3 & 5 (S Flex) if he did: when you’re regularly Irons: TaylorMade Tour Burner – 4-SW (NS950; S Flex) driving bumper-to-bumper at Putter: TaylorMade Rossa Tourismo 240 km/h you can be forgiven
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The newly-opened Els Club
Desert Miracle Tee it up in Dubai, the burgeoning mecca of Middle East golf STORY BY ALEX JENKINS
ne of my earliest golfing memories was watching my father hack his way around the sand course at the Dubai Country Club. The year was 1986 and this was the extent of this tiny emirate’s golf: nine holes crudely shaped out of the desert scrub with no grass. My father had to carry around an astroturf mat to hit the ball off before sweeping the ‘browns’—a peculiar mixture of compacted sand and oil that made for greens— once he’d holed out. In those halcyon days, the club was just another expatriate hangout where mad dogs and Englishmen would play a quick round under a blazing noon day sun before retiring to the verandah for an afternoon spent in a gin and tonic-induced haze. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
rounds played in the city annually. This figure is expected to rise considerably, however, with 2009 set to be the watershed year for the emirate’s golfing status. In a little over twelve months, new Greg Norman and Vijay Singh designed courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates will be ready for play, but the real excitement will come with the unveiling of Al Ruwaya, Tiger’s first design project, which is scheduled to be ready by next spring. At a cost of US$1.1 billion it is t hought to be t he most expensive golf and real estate development in history.
Desert Chic (clockwise from top): Sheik Zayed Road; the Wadi and Majlis courses at Emirates Golf Club. 38
The Dubai Country Club is no more, which is probably just as well. The novelty of playing sand golf soon wears thin, and the reflection of the sun’s rays off what is essentially one enormous bunker makes playing sand courses downright unbearable. Give me Carnoustie in December—with its artic winds, driving sleet and frozen putting surfaces—anytime. But even before its demise, very few travellers made their way to Dubai Country Club because the city has evolved into the golf capital of the Middle East, and tourists are now spoiled with choices of first-class courses to play. Dubai’s golf boom is a direct result of the city reinventing itself. Unlike Abu Dhabi down the highway to the south, Dubai isn’t the glitzy, skyscraper crammed metropolis it is today solely because of oil. Dubai’s reserves of ‘black gold’, while significant, are set to run out soon and over the past twenty years the city’s rulers—the race horse loving Al-Maktoum family—have had the foresight to turn this former insignificant trading port into a commercial, tourism and aviation hub. It was a risky endeavor and the critics doubted whether the Al-Maktoum’s enormous investment would work. They had a point. After all, who would want to spend their vacation on a desert coastline, where the summer heat reaches an unbearable 120 degrees? But, much like that other wacky desert town in Nevada, it did work and now Dubai is the world’s fastest growing city, attracting eight million tourists a year—a number that is set to triple by 2012. Golf will certainly continue to prosper. The Dubai Desert Classic has become one of the European Tour’s most popular events—helped significantly by the regular appearance of Tiger Woods—and there are well over 300,000
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Cathay Pacific and Emirates, Dubai’s rapidly expanding and award winning airline, fly direct daily between Hong Kong and Dubai (approximately eight and a half hours). While it’s possible to hire a car, the more convenient (and cheaper) way to get to Dubai’s courses is by taxi. The emirate is so small it can be traversed in a little over an hour, and the drivers all speak English. The best time to visit is October through April, when the weather is coolest. Otherwise you’ll be sprinting from one air-conditioned environment to another. The currency, the dirham, is pegged to the U.S. dollar and fluctuates little month to month. Although Dubai is the most multicultural and tolerant of the United Arab Emirates, the nation is still a Muslim state. The faithful congregate five times a day to pray, and you will hear the call to prayer being sung from mosques all over the city. Tourists need to be extra sensitive if they are visiting during Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast during daylight hours to fulfill the fourth pillar of Islam; it is, therefore, inappropriate to eat, drink or smoke in public during the day. This year Ramadan runs from September 1 through September 28.
WHERE TO PLAY
Emirates Golf Club HHHHH Ho m e t o t wo o f t h e r e g io n's m o s t outstanding tracks, the club was hailed the Desert Miracle when it first opened almost twenty years ago. The Majlis Course here is a personal favorite of Ernie Els and it’s easy to see why. It winds majestically around dunes and man-made lakes, and the holes are distinguished by a number of blind tee shots and lengthy par fours. A mammoth double green, shared by the ninth and eighteenth holes, sits in front of a stunning clubhouse modeled on a bedouin WWW.HKGA.COM
camp. The Majlis hosts the Dubai Desert Classic every January. The second course, called the Wadi, went under the creative knife of Faldo Design a couple of years back and has emerged as an excellent strategic test. +971 4 399 5060, dubaigolf.com Yardage: 7,185. Par: 72. Architect: Karl Litten (Majlis Course), Nick Faldo (Wadi Course) Greens Fee: US$200 Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club HHHHH Superbly sited on the banks of Dubai’s famous waterway, the Creek Golf Club is a palm fringed, water-strewn course that has recently been toughened up by European Ryder Cupper, and long time Dubai resident, Thomas Bjorn. Despite being the centrepiece of an exclusive property development (there is also a 225-room Park Hyatt and marina onsite), the course retains the feeling of seclusion and is home to one of the world’s best short par fours: the mischievous seventeenth, where the Creek impinges on the left side of the fairway. The clubhouse, resembling the sails of an Arab dhow, is one of Dubai’s most recognizable buildings. A beautifully manicured nine-hole par-three course, floodlit for night golf, makes for an ideal warm-up. +971 4 295 6000, dubaigolf.com Yardage: 6,857. Par: 71. Architect: Karl Litten. (Redesigned by European Golf Design/Thomas Bjorn) Greens Fee: US$143-US$170 WWW.HKGA.COM
Arabian Ranches Golf Club HHHHH Despite not containing a single water hazard, this is the unquestionably the toughest track in the emirate and really shouldn’t be tackled by beginners or high handicappers. The layout, billed as the only true desert course in Dubai (until the recent opening of the Els Club), is characterized by narrow, rippling landing areas flanked on all sides by an unforgiving wasteland, which invariably comes into play for all but the straightest hitters. The well-bunkered greens complexes here offer another form of defence, featuring huge swales and run-off areas. Then there is the wind; depending on the time of year, a northwesterly Shamal or a southeasterly Sharki whips off the desert creating havoc among Dubai’s golfing populous. It is both brutal and magnificent, but better players will relish the challenge. +971 4 366 3000, arabianranchesgolfdubai.com Yardage: 7,691. Par: 72. Architect: Ian Baker-Finch & Nicklaus Design Greens Fee: US$104-US$125 HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Verre, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s first restaurant outside the U.K.
WHERE TO EAT
You can find restaurants serving up dishes from all corners of the globe in Dubai, but visitors often overlook the fine cuisine of the Middle East during their stay. Layali Lubnan on Sheikh Zayed Road is an independent café that gives a rare glimpse of genuine Arabia. Here you’ll find locals and expatriate Arabs smoking shisha (flavored tobacco) while enjoying a game of backgammon. Try the falafel with hummous, washed down with a cup of strong Turkish coffee, for a tasty and invigorating lunch. Lebanese food is justifiably popular the world over, and Ayam Zaman at the Ascot Hotel in Bur Dubai offers delicious repasts at reasonable prices. The restaurant also puts on belly dancing and live music performances throughout the week.
SHOPS AND SPAS
Waterfront Marvel (clockwise from top): Dubai Creek’s iconic clubhouse; the mischievous seventeenth.
Four Seasons Golf Club (Al-Badia Course) HHHH Windswept Al-Badia is a relatively new layout (even by Dubai’s standards) and a tough addition to the city’s list. Located just 2km from the international airport, this Trent Jones II design presents plenty of risk-reward opportunities with vast lakes and enormous ‘rivers’ of sand coming into play at nearly every turn. The par threes— with their small, well guarded greens—are a particularly strong set of holes while the exciting par-five eighteenth provides a rollicking finish to what is an undeniably stern test. +971 4-601-0101, fourseasons.com/dubaigolf Yardage: 7,250. Par: 72. Architect: Robert Trent Jones II Greens Fee: US$110-$230
BEST OF THE REST
T h e Mo nt g o m e r i e D u b a i (w w w. themontgomerie.com), which Colin Montgomerie designed with the late Desmond Muirhead, is worth a visit. Its island green on the parthree thirteenth is reputedly the largest in the world. Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa (www. jebelali-international.com), about a forty-minute drive from the city, has nine pretty holes and for years hosted the Jebel Ali Challenge, a starstudded event that acts as the curtain raiser for the Desert Classic. Watch for peackocks that 40
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roam the fairways on the eighth and ninth holes. The newest course in Dubai is the Els Club (www.elsclubdubai.com) at Dubai Sports City. Described as a desert links, the course features five sets of tees on each hole and superfast greens and has received rave reviews since opening earlier this year.
WHERE TO STAY
There are two types of hotel in Dubai: expensive and very expensive. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find anything decent with less than four stars so visitors tend to stick to the plethora of up market resorts and business hotels. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Burj Al-Arab (www.burj-al-arab.com), the world’s first seven star hotel. With its soaring white façade resembling a billowing sail, the hotel stands on its own island nine hundred feet offshore and serves as the architectural symbol of the city. A kaleidoscopic waterfall, mirrors on ceilings of suites, and chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces are the order of the day here. The more conventional Hilton Dubai Creek (www.hilton.com) manages to have both a boutique and business feel. As an added attraction, the hotel is home to WWW.HKGA.COM
Shopping is a major reason that tourists flock to Dubai; the city is often referred to as the Hong Kong of the Middle East. However, those looking for traditional Arabian markets are in for a disappointment. The creekside souks, which sell a range of gold, jewels and textiles, are a rather sanitized version of their exotic past and a world away from the bustling flea markets of Cairo, Damascus and Tehran. Rather, designer boutiques rule the roost in modern Dubai, and the emrirate’s touristfriendly tax-free zones ensure that bargains can be had. BurJuman (www.burjuman.com), Wafi City (www.waficity.com) and the Mall of the Emirates (www.malloftheemirates) are three of the city’s biggest malls, each of them crammed with upscale outlets. Spas have become seriously popular in Dubai as well and can be found in all of the city’s topend hotels and shopping centres. The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel (www.shangri-la.com/dubai) is one of the most elegant retreats anywhere, while the exquisite Angsana chain (www.angsanaspa. com) has outlets at both the Arabian Ranches and Montgomerie Dubai golf clubs.
Arabian Splendour (clockwise from top): The 7-star Burj Al Arab; the clubhouse and course at Arabian Ranches. WWW.HKGA.COM
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Golf in the Kingdom
Navatanee has been a major player on the Thai golf scene for over thirty years. But has its standing as one of the country’s best courses been supplanted by the slew of modern courses that have emerged in recent times? We investigate. Navatanee Golf Course Yardage: 6,906. Par: 72 Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (1973) Khet Kannavao, Bangkok Tel: +66 (0)2-376-1034-6 Website: www.navatanee.com Greens Fee: 2,500-3,000 Baht
By the region’s standards, Navatanee, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr design some thirty minutes from the centre of Bangkok, is a pensioner. Opened for play in 1973, the course was purpose built to host the World Cup of Golf in 1975, which was won comfortably by the US pairing of Johnny Miller and Lou Graham. That tournament’s impact on Thai golf is significant: at a time when 42
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Compared to other courses close to the capital, Navatanee doesn’t get a huge amount of play, which normally bodes well in terms of conditioning. On our visit, the Bermuda grass greens were running at around nine on the stimpeter and were generally smooth. The fairways, while perfectly playable, were far from immaculate however. Although recent drainage work has cut recovery time from heavy downpours significantly, the course did appear a little scruffy around the edges; the amount of fairway grass deemed GUR was somewhat alarming and not in keeping with a course which has this kind of reputation.
the Land of Smiles was known throughout the world mainly for its proximity to the Vietnam War, the success of the World Cup has been credited with igniting local interest in the game, that in turn triggered the investment boom in the 1980s and 90s. Regularly featured highly in magazine polls of the country’s finest courses, Navatanee operated a strict members only policy until fairly recently, but the club now welcomes visitors on weekdays.
Chirpy, bright and fun, Navatanee’s caddies know their trade very well. Although none looks old enough to have been caddying since the course’s opening thirty five years ago, they are undoubtedly experienced. Trust their guidance on the slippery greens: we neglected to take their advice early on and were made to look more than a little silly. They can read grain, which is something we obviously cannot. Carts are mandatory for visitors, which is a shame because come the winter months it would a very enjoyable course to walk.
Although the club is located within the city limits, it certainly doesn’t feel as if it is. Some traffic can be heard in a couple of corners of the course, but otherwise it is more akin to strolling through gentle tropical parkland. Those who are excited by the modern design concepts of vast water hazards and flashy bunkering might not immediately take to Navatanee. Like the majority of courses situated around the Thai capital, Navatanee is generally flat; but unlike, say, Thai Country Club or Amata Spring (two excellent private members’ clubs on the fringes of the city), its features are far more subtle in nature. Mature Rosewood trees and great swathes of colourful Bougainvilea flank many of the generous landing areas, while the bunkering is refreshingly modest; neither especially deep nor excessively penal, the traps here, although thoughtfully placed, don’t cause too much concern for the recreational golfer. Where water is used, its placement is purely strategic. The greens, while not outrageously contoured, feature enough movement (and grain) to keep things interesting. In terms of memorability, the sixth—a classic par-four that asks for a dangerpacked approach over a lotus-filled pond—and the ninth—a meaty par-five that wraps its way around a lake in front of the sprawling low-rise clubhouse—score highly. WWW.HKGA.COM
Large and functional, although the locker rooms are somewhat dated and could do with a revamp. The main restaurant serves up a wide variety of local and Japanese dishes (a necessity given the large number of northern Asian members), and an expansive covered veranda overlooking the ninth green is an agreeable spot to relax with a flagon or two of Singha beer. It wouldn’t appear to be the most popular of hangouts however. We played on a Saturday afternoon and by 7pm the whole place was dead.
No complaints whatsoever. The staff was friendly, helpful and eager to please us mere visitors. No snotty indifference to our needs was noted.
So, how does Navata nee ra n k among Thailand’s f inest courses? Is i t w o r t hy o f i t s perennial placing among the country’s top-10, or has its sta nd i ng sl ipped since the days when it was the only show in town? Well, it’s a tricky one. It’s clear that the club hangs on to its World Cup con ne c t ion w it h something close to desperation—every logo, sign, banner, menu , beer mat , chopstick, souvenir towel and pitchmark repair tool boasts the words “World Cup 1975.” There’s nothing really wrong with that of course, but to some this branding might suggest a club stuck in the past, unwilling or unable to move on from its fifteen minutes of fame nearly thirty-five years ago. The Navatanee of 2008 is still a fine course, but one in need of a little surgery. A nip here, a tuck there—that’s all it takes. We shall return.
Bangkok Delight (clockwise from top): Navatanee's caddies and the club's "Rolls Royce" golf cart; visitors can't fail to notice the number of references to the 1975 World Cup; the testing sixth, one of the best par-fours on the course; fairway in bloom. WWW.HKGA.COM
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and spent their nights gambling away in the famous Casino du Liban and wreaking havoc in the chic bars and nightclubs of the capital. It was by all accounts an agreeabley hedonistic time and it was then that Beirut earned the label, ‘ Paris of the East.’ British expatriate members of the club, thinking (correctly) that golf could prosper in such a cosmopolitan city moved the club to its present site routed a an attractive nine hole layout through attractive woodland close to the international airport. Golf blossomed in Lebanon and the club became popular with the idle rich who would play a quick round to alleviate their inevitable hangovers. Stories of after-hours orgies in the expansive clubhouse are still remembered fondly to this day. On the back of this success, the club initiated plans for a further nine holes to be built, but then disaster struck. From 1975 to 1990, much of Beirut was ravaged by civil war, but the club, despite not getting their additional nine holes until 1985 when there was a brief lull in the fighting, carried on as normal except that most of the regular members were replaced by golf enthusiasts from the battalion of war correspondents who were based in the famous Commodore Hotel a few kilometres away. Playing golf in a war zone is as dangerous as it sounds and it didn’t get much more dangerous than playing the 440-yard first hole. Running perpendicular to this par-four was a PLO firing range and reports of golfers having to “scurry like rabbits” to avoid stray bullets were commonplace. Every morning the club’s greenkeepers would sweep the fairways, ridding
Birdies in Beirut
the course of the shrapnel and artillery shells that had accumulated overnight. Up until fairly recently the tail section of an Israeli rocket, which was found on the third green, took pride of place between bottles of Smirnoff and Gibleys on the clubhouse bar. It was a surreal time and the occasional bursts of gunfire from the surrounding neighbourhood was best summed up by Eddie Coates, the former Sec u r it y Chei f at t he Br it ish Embassy. “It’s terrible for your putting,” Coates said. “But this is golf, it gets in your blood.” Today, the Golf Club of Lebanon is a much quieter place, but it has rather lost the grandeur of its prewar past. Although the clubhouse a nd of f- cou rse faci l it ies have undergone recent renovations (the club’s six clay tennis courts hosted Lebanon’s ultimately unsuceesful Davis Cup campaign in 2005) the course now backs on to some nondescript housing and many of the majestic old trees that used to line the fairways are no more. This being Beirut, however, there is every confidence that the club can rekindle the glory days of more than thirty-five years ago. Beirut buzzes once more and with a little care and attention (and a lot of cold hard cash), the Golf Club of Lebanon can rise again.
If Dubai is the new kid on the golfing block, then Lebanon, or the Golf Club of Lebanon to be precise, is the golfing Grandaddy of the Middle East with an interesting history and more than a few tales to tell.
stablished in 1923, at the behest of bored French officers who were in the country after Paris was granted a mandate to govern both Lebanon and neighbouring Syria, the Golf Club of Lebanon started life on an unremarkable plot of land adjacent to the main southern highway from Beirut. Even by the standards of the era, the short nine hole course was crude, and after the initial novelty of the game wore thin, the French officers spent more and more of their time away from the course and in the clubhouse where they would get merry on the rough reds brought down from the Bekka Valley. (Today, Lebanon’s vineyards produce excellent wines; try The Golf Club of Lebanon the spicy Chateau Musar which is freely Ouzai – Beer Hassan available worldwide). Beirut, Lebanon By the early 1960s Beirut was buzzing. Tel: +961 1 826 335-6-7 The international jet set came to this Website: www.golfclub.org.lb tiny part of the Levant in their droves Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 44
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Course with a past (clockwise from top): evidence of Beirut’s bloody past still lingers to this day; the opening hole at GCL, wedged between the airport and a slum, the GCL has lost the grandeur of it heyday. WWW.HKGA.COM
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Golf Course Grass: The Basics BY RICK HAMILTON
SkyCity Nine Eagles features wall-to-wall Paspalum
ave you ever wondered why some courses look and play better than others at certain times of the year? While it would be easy to suggest it was all down to maintenance procedures, the overriding reason is that different courses use different types of grasses—and different types of grasses react differently according to their environment. Take Augusta National, for instance. In the spring, when the course hosts the Masters tournament, it looks fabulous. Its towering pines and beautiful azaleas aside, the playing surfaces are perfect. There can’t be a golfer on the planet who wouldn’t want to play on the club’s carpet-like fairways and silky smooth greens. But visit Augusta in the summer and you’d most likely be disappointed. The course is closed during this time, and for good reason: the Georgia heat is too much for the course’s bentgrass greens to handle. If kept at the same tournament heights and speeds, the grass would soon die. The same logic explains why bentgrass, a fine leaf variety considered the “Rolls Royce” of putting surfaces, is so rarely used in southern China. Put simply, our tropical climate—the heat, humidity and heavy rainfall—is wholly unsuitable for growing quality bentgrass. Bent thrives in cooler, drier climes, which is why it is used extensively in places like Kunming and northern China.
Generally speaking, courses in our region use one or two types of grass: Bermuda and, increasingly, Paspalum. Broader-leafed than Bent, these two grass types, which are classified as warm season grasses, are more resistant to the extreme conditions that prevail throughout the year in southern China. Water quality, the type of soil, the amount of on-course traffic and, of course, maintenance practices also play their part in determining which grass, or grasses, a particular course chooses. It is interesting to see that the majority of new courses in the region are going for one or two options: wall-to-wall Paspalum or Paspalum fairways, tees and roughs combined with Bermuda TifEagle greens. (TifEagle is a new strain of Bermuda, and when maintained well, can rival Bentgrass for smooth and slick putting surfaces at certain times of the year). Despite what you might have read elsewhere, there is no such thing as “Wondergrass.” No one grass type suits all conditions. Each type of grass has its advantages and disadvantages, which I have summarized in the table below. Please note, however, that this is only a general guide. There are a number of other factors that affect the quality of playing surfaces, which I will touch upon in future issues.
WARM SEASON GRASSES Use on Course
Rick Hamilton is managing director of Asia Turf Solutions, a turf management consultancy company based in Hong Kong. COOL SEASON GRASSES
Fairways, tees, roughs (occasionaly greens)
Fairways, tees, roughs
Primarily overseeding (adds colour to dormant grass)
Fine, wiry leaf. Slow growth
Fine leaf, high density. Shallow root system
Broad leaf; suitable for medium traffic
Bunch type (used to add colour to dormant grass)
Striking colour, recovers well
Deep green colour
Characteristics Medium broad leaf; Broad leaf, high new strains are very density. Vigorous fine. Good growth growth Pros
Robust grass, recovers well. TifEagle provides excellent greens
Aesthetically Native to SE pleasing; handles lack Asia,Hardy, requires of sunlight and poor low maintenance quality water well
Deep green colour, low growing habit means it can be cut very short
Needs sunlight. Loses colour in winter when semi-dormant
Green speeds tend to be low. Requires a lot of preparation to increase speed
Slow recovery from damage. Not as pleasing to the eye as others
Not as hardy Becomes fragile when over-watered. as others Requires regular maintenance
Susceptible to disease
SE Asia (newer courses)
SE Asia + Japan (older courses)
Kunming, N. China
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Sensational Sawgrass As host of THE PLAYERS Championship and headquarters of the PGA Tour, the TPC Sawgrass is one of the most revered places in all of golf. We travel to Florida to see for ourselves.
u gusta National aside, the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass is arguably the most recognizable course in t he Un ited States —if not the world. As host of THE PLAYERS Championship, images of the course’s beautifully manicured fairways and railroad tie-supported greens have been beamed to all corners of the globe for over twenty-five years. Not everyone will remember then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman being pushed into the lake fronting the eighteenth green by Jerry Pate after the latter won the course’s debut event in 1982, but any self-respecting golf fan can’t fail to forget the tournament’s highlight reel over the last decade. There was Tiger’s “Better than Most” 60-foot rollercoaster putt WWW.HKGA.COM
at the seventeenth for birdie in 2001; Davis Love III’s sublime 6-iron from the trees at sixteen which set up an eagle in 2003; and Adam Scott’s gutsy bogeysave on eighteen to win the event in 2004, to name but a few. Augusta might have “Amen Corner,” but holes sixteen thru eighteen at the Stadium Course are as easily identifiable as any stretch on the planet. And what’s more, unlike the home of the Masters tournament, you can actually play them. “We are open to the public. Guests are encouraged to come, even if you’re not playing golf,” says Billy Dettlaff, the PGA Tour’s national director of golf as we sit in his spacious office inside the club’s magnificent clubhouse. “We encourage people to come, see the clubhouse, see all the memorabilia, the history.” This is something that you quickly learn about Sawgrass: they welcome visitors with open arms. Let’s face it, apart from a handful of public courses in the British Isles and the United States, the majority courses on the top-100 list, of which Sawgrass is firmly entrenched, are strictly private. If you are permitted on their hallowed turf, they certainly don’t go out of their way to advertise the fact. Sawgrass is as inclusive as they come. OK, at US$350 for a round on Stadium Course, it’s pricey. But this isn’t just any old round—this is a round in which you’ll be following in the footsteps of champions. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Course File Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass Par: 72. Yardage: 7,215 Course/Slope Rating: 75.0/149 Architect: Pete Dye Greens Fee: $350
Floridian Wonder (clockwise from top): the par-five eleventh features distinctive bunkering; the thirteenth features water down the entire left side; the riskreward sixteenth, candidate for best hole on the course; a grandstand finish at the eighteenth with the club’s new clubhouse in the background.
The Playing Experience
T he excitement of play i ng a course of such status begins long before you reach the first tee. The driveway off PGA Tour Boulevard is lined with lampposts, each bearing a banner featuring the image of a former champion. You realize that you’ll soon be treading the same fairways as the very best players of the modern era. This is when the butterflies start to kick in. Arrival is seamless. Cars pause in front of the clubhouse and bags are whisked away in a heartbeat. Check-in is strategically-placed inside what could be the biggest pro shop in the world. After meandering through seemingly endless displays of top-notch merchandise—and (hopefully) ignoring the obvious temptation to add several thousands dollars worth of equipment to your collection—you reach the counter and pay, before heading to the locker rooms. Like everything else here, these are superbly appointed. A quick word about the staff: genuinely warm and unfalteringly polite, this is southern hospitality at its most welcoming. After warming up at the club’s all-turf range and short game area (as you might expect from a club that counts a number of PGA Tour players, including Vijay Singh, among its clientele,
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the practice facilities at Sawgrass are seriously impressive), it’s time to play. The starter—over a tanoy system—announces that you’re to make your way to the first tee. Gulp. You realize two things upon reaching the teebox of this medium length opener. Firstly, the course is immaculate. Sawgrass claims to be always “tournament ready”, and you can see why. It might be a little clichéd to suggest that the fairways are in better shape that most courses’ greens, but it’s absolutely true. The second, more daunting, realization is that the first hole is a darn sight more tricky than years of playing it on PlayStation will have you believe. In computer golf it’s easy to rip a 3-wood
over the water and waste bunker that flanks the right side of the fairway. In reality, only the professionals would contemplate such a line. For holiday golfers, these hazards are well and truly in play. First-timers think they ‘know’ the course, having watched the pros navigate their way around on countless occasions. But unless you can drive it 280-plus yards and dead straight, the hazards will make their presence felt. Take the waste bunkers. Watching THE PLAYERS Championship from the safety of your armchair, they look to be fairly gentle; the kind of trap that you might occasionally risk firing a hybrid or fairway wood out of. In actual fact, they are menacingly deep and steep-sided—TV’s twodimensional view really doesn’t do them justice at all. Try and take on more than you can handle and you’ll find yourself in there for some considerable time. Swallow your pride and grab your sand-wedge. One interesting feature of the routing of the course is that no consecutive holes run in the same direction. While the par-five second seems to be just an elongated version of the first, the change is wind direction means the holes play much differently to each other. You find this time and time again on the Stadium Course. Gauging the shifting breezes correctly can be the difference between a respectable round and a train wreck, at least for a good player: the continual presence of water and devilish greenside hummocks and pot bunkers means any mistimed shot, even one only slightly miscued, is punished. That it’s a brilliant test of golf in beyond question, but it also has to be one of the most mentally trying courses around. Which brings us nicely to the infamous seventeenth and its island green, a design characteristic that has been copied on dozens if not hundreds of courses the world over. Much has been made of this tiny par-three over the years—and for good reason. At 137 yards it’s comfortably the shortest hole on the course, but that hasn’t prevented many a seasoned pro from WWW.HKGA.COM
40,000 120,000 66
Number of rounds played each year on the Stadium Course Number of balls recovered each year from the lake on seventeen
The number of strokes it took Angelo Spagnolo, a 31-year-old grocery store manager, to complete the seventeenth in “America’s Worst Avid Golfer” contest in 1985. Spagnolo hit 27 balls in the water from the teebox and drop area. Rules officials finally directed him to putt around the hazard and down the narrow path that leads to the green.
seeing their championship chances destroyed by finding the aqua. Such is the potential for disaster that broadcaster NBC devotes ten cameras to the hole during the tournament. But here’s the thing: for the pros at the climax of one of the biggest events in golf the hole represents a supreme psychological challenge; for the amateur, whose round has more than likely already been wrecked by the previous sixteen, the seventeenth offers some light relief. We’re not saying it’s easy, necessarily, but as far as birdie opportunities go, this is certainly one of the better chances out there. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Tour Insider: Rick Anderson Controversial anti-doping policies, expansion into China, a fifth major—to the PGA Tour’s chief legal officer it all goes with the job. We caught up with Anderson as he prepares to leave for a trip to Beijing. INTERVIEW BY CHARLES MCLAUGHLIN
SOS – Strategy on Seventeen One of the unique things about the TPC Sawgrass is that the property is populated by volunteer “docents” (storytellers) from the community who are trained to provide assistance or information to anyone who wants it—including impromptu guided tours of the course and clubhouse. Our storyteller was Gerald W. (Doc) Stokes, a 78-year-old former professor of history and philosophy who gave us a local’s perspective on the course’s most famous hole. The Tee Shot: “This is the thing [about seventeen], you can spin it back into the water, or if you hit it hot it’ll go over. It’s a real soft, high, floating shot that’s required to stay on the green. There’s usually a wind in the face and you can hit a bit more aggressively, but if you get it way up in the air you’re messing with the wind because it’s invariably swirling here. It’s swirling, but it more comes from the left to the right. If the wind isn’t howling, I tell people make sure that you aim to the left of centre of the green well enough to allow for the wind, because the wind is going to take it twenty yards. I’ve just seen it happen too many times, and I’ve played out here too many times myself. The Green: “Now you can see the slope [of the green] here. You can see how undulating it is, but they took about thirteen inches off the top of it. When Tiger made that “Better than Most” putt, coming down that hill, it was so dramatic because it was going to roll right off. That year there were ninetynine balls in the water from the pros and that’s outlandish. That’s why they shaved it off. The Bunker: “The small bunker there isn’t the bailout people might think it is. It doesn’t work. From here you can barely see it, it’s so deep. It’s like a pot bunker at St Andrews; it’s deep, real deep and it’s very difficult to come out of there soft. It’s such a difficult shot to come out of there and keep it on the green. The 2008 PLAYERS: “Sergio, one of his shots was there on the cart path [walkway]. He putted from the cart path. I felt for Paul Goydos, he played so well and had such a great personality. Such great quotes. He was relatively unknown but I had followed him as he moved up from the Nationwide Tour. He won before some ten years ago. I loved his attitude; I just loved the way he took it. It was sad that he lost by hitting into the water.
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The Other Course
The TPC Sawgrass is home to not one but two world-class courses. Dye’s Valley Course, younger sibling to the famous Stadium Course, is another fabulous track but one that is often overlooked by visitors who come with clubs in tow. This is a mistake, according to the locals, because not only does it feature all the ingredients of a Pete Dye classic—the liberal use of water, railroad ties and heavy mounding—but it’s also a much friendlier test. Not as long as the Stadium Course and with bigger greens, a round on Dye’s Valley is a comparatively soothing affair. As one regular told us: “It’s more favourable for regular play. You can relax on the Valley. Relax on the Stadium Course and you’re toast.” Completed in 1997, the course has hosted events such as the SENIOR PLAYERS championship and the final stage of Senior Qualifying School.
Getting a Tee Time
Both courses are accessible throughout the year; however the Stadium Course closes approximately three weeks prior to THE PLAYERS Championship, which next takes place from 4-10 May, 2009. Visit www.tpc.com/sawgrass for booking. Tee times are also available through the Marriott Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa (www.sawgrassmarriot. com), where the majority of overseas visitors choose to stay.
HKG: Were you a big golfer before you joined the PGA Tour? RA: Not at all. I was not a big golfer, and I’m still not a big golfer. But when I came to the Tour, I was single. I took up golf in earnest and got to almost the point where I didn’t embarrass myself. The pinnacle of that was in 1998 when I went to Scotland for a ten day trip, where I got to play some of the greatest venues in Scotland. And that was important to me. I wanted to play, but coming from outside of golf, I really wanted to immerse myself within the game, and no better way to do it than to spend some time in the birthplace of golf.
the world of professional sports today and not address the subject. When we launched the program with a player meeting in San Diego, in February, we had a few players that were very vocally opposed and that opposition grew mostly out of the clash of cultures that anti-doping in golf represents, because of the inherent nature in golf of being a game of honour. So that was understandable. Also an interesting point is that the players who are under 35, largely they are used to this because they were tested in college, and the players who are over 35 really had never been tested and had more anxiety about it. We started our testing process and the first week, I’m happy to report, went very smoothly.
HKG: What would be a normal week for you? RA: I’m travelling a lot…so this year my week is usually out Monday through Wednesday at a tournament, talking to players, attending a Players Advisory Council meeting or attending one of our Tour Policy Board meetings. I’m also out at various times, engaged in different business negotiations. Then, when I’m in the office, it’s generally a kind of revolving door, with members of my team coming in to ask about various issues, or other business units or people coming in and wanting to talk about a particular issue or reacting to things that happen and we have to address. The way I’ve described it, it’s a 100 miles an hour on 100 different subjects a day. I love that. I do love that.
HKG: You don’t want it to happen, but the proof will come with the first positive test…. RA: Absolutely. That’s absolutely right.
HKG: What has been reaction of PGA Tour players to anti-doping? RA: Overall, very positive. Our players absolutely understand why we need to have a program. They also all feel, as we do, that we don’t have a problem, but you cannot exist in WWW.HKGA.COM
HKG: It is going to be interesting…. RA: It has been! I’m happy that my personal time in it is near over! (Laughs) I’m still responsible for it, but Alison Keller, who runs the program, just does a fabulous job and she’s not going to need my time any more, I think! (Laughs)
HKG: THE PLAYERS Championship, is that your biggest week of the year? RA: Certainly here, in this physical location, it’s definitely the biggest week for us. For the PGA Tour, this is our championship; this is the Players’ Championship, aptly named. And so, in terms of the events that we run, that are really ours and we’re not just associated with, sure it’s absolutely the big week. We’ve done so much to try to elevate the tournament. This building that we’re sitting in, I think is going to wind up being a very iconic symbol, you know, the way you see the clubhouse at Augusta National. I think, over time, this event will fall into that status. HKG: You wonder how an event gets “Major” status, but it has to be a whisker away here… RA: Yeah, you would think so. Of course, there is no official criteria, no vote or anything like that, and it’s really about how the players feel about it, how they talk about it. Every year that’s gone by, you see them talking more and more; they focus like it’s a Major. Certainly moving it into its own month, so that you have a Major every month [from] April through August only helps. So it’s all these different things that we do, and then we just turn it over to the media and the players to decide when it’s a Major. HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
HKG: I think all you have to do is come up the driveway to this clubhouse and see all the previous winners of THE PLAYERS Championship on signs on each lamppost to appreciate the quality of this tournament. Forgive me, but frankly the USPGA Championship has a lot more relatively unknown winners. RA: Right, right. Also we had a great winner this year in Sergio. “I think we recognize the That’s just such a good thing both in value and importance of an terms of him, and the competition, event that was in the FedEx but also frankly for business, to have a Cup being played in China.” European winner. HKG: Commissioner Finchem’s blog mentions golf in the Olympics, and it isn’t news, we’ve been talking about it for years. Is your trip to Beijing connected to this? RA: My trip in particular is not, actually. I am going over to work on some details of the event that we have at Mission Hills—the World Cup—and we’re going to be adding a new event. We’ll be converting the existing event over to a World Golf Championship event. We are going to have a big announcement relating to the formal structure of our Olympic bid, of golf’s Olympic bid, and we’re going to be doing that out of a newly formed Olympic Committee of the International Golf Federation. I’ll wind up being heavily involved in it. I’m the PGA tour representative to the committee. It’s a significant push for us to get in, and there’s a lot of competition, essentially seven sports that are trying to get in, only two spots, so… HKG: You have to figure that the reason a lot of sports don’t get chosen is that they aren’t truly global sports… RA: Absolutely true. HKG: You assume golf will, apart from the fact it’s global, you are talking about lobbying being key and you have golfers in very influential positions… RA: Absolutely, that’s very true. I think when you look at baseball and softball, well not baseball so much, but softball certainly had that problem because it’s viewed as an American sport and that’s difficult for them because the IOC, understandably, wants a more ubiquitous sort of sport. HKG: The PGA Tour has events in Mexico and Canada. Will there be a fully sanctioned event in China? RA: If by fully sanctioned you mean an official money event, the time of year makes it a little 52
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difficult in terms of getting over there and getting back in a way that you can do it within the body of the season. The natural time of the year for us is October and November, which is after the FedEx Cup season. But having said that, I think we recognize the value and importance of an event that was in the FedEx Cup being played in China and in other parts of the world, so it’s one of the things we are studying right now…to figure out is there a way that we could alter our regulations so that that event counted somehow. Could it count for the next year? We are working on all of that, but you know, just from a calendar perspective it’s difficult. HKG: What would you say has been the biggest crisis during your tenure here? RA: I guess it was the immediate time after September 11, and the ensuing economic troubles and recession. You know, when we signed up new TV deals in July of that year, the economy had been strong and we were really at a very high growth rate. We did those deals in 2001 for the beginning of the ’03 season, we do them two years in advance, and we didn’t have title sponsors signed up, any of them, for the ’03-’06 period. Well, then you had 9/11 and then the Enron and Arthur Andersen scandals and suddenly we had TV deals that were based on the existence of title sponsors buying significant advertising on screen, and suddenly we had no title sponsors signed. And that was a time of crisis where we said, “How are we going to advance and get all these companies signed up at a time when they wanted out and to scale back?” That was a time when literally all hands were on deck in terms of finding and cultivating sponsors, and we came through it well. We’re actually not having any specific fallout from the current recession but we’re preparing for it already—sort of applying a lot of the lessons that we learned. Now, we do our business differently. Fortunately for us our business is very secure through at least 2012, so our hope is that we can get through this time as a whole, and by the time we go back to negotiate again with TV the economy is better. HKG: On a personal note, what is your record on the seventeenth like? RA: I’ve put a lot of balls into the water on seventeen! (Laughs) Definitely true! Although then there is other times when it’s just…it’s all mental at 17, except when the wind is blowing, when the wind is blowing it’s real…but most days it’s mental. HKG: What is your favorite hole on the Stadium Course? RA: The seventeenth is obviously this kind of mythical thing. I think the eighteenth is just a tremendous hole. I think, as a finishing hole, it’s just outstanding. WWW.HKGA.COM
Rescue Me Ping G10 $1,600
A great complement to the award-winning G10 irons and driver, the sloped crown helps create highlaunching shots and a weight pad puts the centre of gravity lower to increase launch and increase spin. It’s also very good from those gnarly lies in the rough. A very solid choice and suitable for pretty much all standards of players.
Cleveland HiBore XLS $1,300
The deep face of the HiBore makes it really good off the tee, while the more upright lie encourages you to swing it like a n i ron. T he club’s f a m o u s (o r i s t h a t infamous) scooped crown is loved and loathed in equal measure. If you can get used to the look, it might well be the right one for you. Great value.
Cobra Baffler DWS & PRO $2,000-2,500
One of the best-selling hybrids in Europe, the DWS has a very powerful feel to it and launches the ball long and straight—always a good sign for any club! The clean lines, heavier shaft and smaller head of the PRO version will appeal to better players.
6 of the best: Hybrids
Callaway FT $2,200
One of the longest hybrids on the market, the FT has a nice compact head, but the tungsten in the sole makes it ultra-forgiving. The ball gets up easily because of the club’s high launch, and doesn’t balloon. Suitable for every standard of player, although some might think the smaller head doesn’t inspire as much confidence as clubs here.
Taylor Made Burner $2,200
A real change for TaylorMade, the triangular shape of the Burner is very different to last year’s model. It’s certainly long and easy to hit, but the face is shallow, which makes it difficult to hit it back from the rough. It’s huge, too—the head could pass for a 5-wood. Its radical design won’t attract everyone, but a s t he say i n g goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Titleist 909H $TBD
Part of Titleist’s all-new 909 series, the club won’t be available in Hong Kong until November, but we’re giving you a sneak peak now as it really looks the business. With its larger head and longer face, the 909 is more forgiving and confidence-inspiring than its predecessor, the 585H, but retains that tour preferred launch and flatter ball flight.
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Ryder Cup Punting
The Strengthening Euros
HYDRATION: what do drink and when
The 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla is gearing up to be a ray of light for those inclined to back the Euro cause this autumn. Unlike the free-falling currency, Nick Faldo’s European golf squad is packed with power and—most importantly— momentum. Archie Albatross previews the bi-annual contest.
Why the right fluids will help you perform better on the course…
t's a searing hot, humid day and you just reached the turn drenched with sweat. Will a bottle of water hydrate you best, or should you go for the sports drink? Maybe the caffeine and sugar in that soda will give you a boost, or should you have a couple of beers to help keep loose? What many golfers don't realize is that what, and how much, you drink are actually among the most important decisions you make on the golf course. Your choice can mean the difference between playing with energy, focus, and coordination, or can leave you suffering from fatigue, mood fluctuations and poor motor control. In extremely hot Beer? Jimenez has an excuse. conditions, such as we experience regularly in Hong Kong, you can lose as much as two litres of water per hour. If those fluids are not replaced, the body becomes dehydrated, affecting virtually every system of your body. Your heart has to work harder, your muscles lose strength and flexibility, your brain function slows and you can experience cramping or dizziness, and even develop heat exhaustion or heat stroke. A loss of just 4 to 5% of one's body weight can cause exercise performance to decline by as much as 20-30%! So what and how much should you drink to avoid duffed shots and missed putts due to dehydration?
The human body is made up of 45-75% water by weight (muscles are about 75% water and fat is about 10%), and the body cannot survive more than a week without it. So it makes sense that water really is the best thirst quencher. However, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated, which is why it is recommended that you drink water before, during and after exercise. Ideally you should have 2 cups of water about an hour before your round, then aim for half a cup every 20 minutes thereafter (adjusting for hot weather and your body size/type), and then have another cup within half an hour after your round.
For vigorous exercise that is over 60 minutes in duration, or if you are an individual who sweats profusely, sports drinks are also a good option. Most sports drinks have about 6 to 8% glucose per glass, and also contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to replace what is lost in sweat. This is important for muscle functioning and will help prevent muscle cramping and water intoxication—your blood becomes too diluted if you have lost too much sodium through sweat. However, it is important to bear in mind that each bottle contains almost 200 calories from sugar, so you may 54
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want to dilute your sports drink with water if you're watching your weight, or if you are already eating food that contains sugar and salt.
In short, alcohol provides no benefit to your exercise performance. Alcohol is a depressant, acting immediately on the brain to decrease your psychomotor skills, slow your reaction time, decrease hand-eye coordination, hand steadiness, balance and alertness—a performance enhancing substance it is not! It also increases inflammation in the body, hastens the onset of muscle fatigue, interferes with muscle recovery, and diverts blood flow to your skin causing further dehydration. And with chronic consumption of the stuff, your liver accumulates fat, your body's ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals is diminished, your testosterone levels decline (making it more difficult to keep muscle mass) and your cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise. Sober yet?
JUICE and SODA
While fruit juices and sodas can help contribute to your body's daily fluid needs, they are not the best choice for on-course hydration. They both contain a lot of sugar, which slows the rate of water absorption into the body. Also, the initial rush of sugar into your blood stream might give you a temporary energy boost, but after about an hour you'll then feel your energy crash down, as your body excretes insulin to balance out the blood sugar spike. It obviously isn't ideal to have such fluctuations over the course of a round, as your mood and focus will fluctuate along with your blood sugar levels.
The money’s on Faldo and team to retain at Valhalla
The European Team
How much is enough?
One easy way to judge whether you are well hydrated is to check the colour of your urine. It should be pale yellow, unless you are taking supplements which will darken it. You can also try weighing yourself before and after your round, and for every pound lost through sweat, drink about 2-3 cups of fluid. Bottom line: drink up! WWW.HKGA.COM
BY HEIDI REYES
The twin factors for Ryder Cup success are experience and current form—and the European team has both in its favour. In Padraig Harrington, winner of three of the last six Major championships, an unlikely new superstar has emerged for the blue team. Paddy’s confidence keeps on increasing and he will surely be the only player sauntering down the fairways, in his now familiar loping gait, with seemingly not a care in the world. The support cast is just that; secondary in achievement but competitive rivals too, pushing him to new heights whilst WWW.HKGA.COM
proud of his triumphs. With Paddy’s recent nemesis, the red-hot Sergio Garcia, and seasoned European stalwarts, Westwood, Jimenez, Stenson and Karlsson all having earned their automatic places, the top of the order is filled with reliable, straight-hitting players. Young punks Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey (the latter two, Captain Faldo’s picks) will bring cocky confidence as well as colour to the European locker room. The pick of the two young Englishmen has meant no place in the line up for the emotional Irish pair, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley—both Ryder Cup veterans who have hit some recent form. Captain Faldo also wisely resisted the slim (not often a word used in this context) temptation to pick Colin Montgomerie. Although Monty’s Ryder Cup track record is astonishingly good (especially in the singles where he has never lost a match), it is clear his time has come and gone. Readers of this column will know that I have very much HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
In association with GEL Golf
enjoyed Colin’s form at the Majors this year: he has provided a steady stream of income via ‘shorting’ his FP (Finishing Position) through his somewhat lackluster performances. Luke Donald is the other European “Gun” who will be absent in Kentucky—in his case through a persistent wrist injury.
The American Team
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Euro Harrington Westwood Garcia Stenson Karlsson Jiminez Rose Wilson McDowell Hansen Poulter Casey
Outright Pick: Margin of Victory: Top Scorer:
If Donald’s unavailability is inconvenient for Europe, Paul Azinger’s most notable injury victim is considerably more significant. Tiger Woods’ heroics at the U.S. Open cost both him and the American Team dearly. Although he remains USA publicly lukewarm about the Mickelson Ryder Cup, privately Tiger Cink is known as a fierce patriot Perry and warm team-mate. His Furyk d isa st rou s pa r t nersh ip Kim with Phil Mickelson under Leonard Curtis Hal Sutton’s stewardship Weekley aside, Tiger has a strong Campbell matchplay record and can Stricker single-handedly turn the Holmes course of a ga me bot h Mahan directly and by inspiration. The pairing of Tiger Europe Europe by 0.5 or 1 point and Jim Furyk in recent US : Furyk or Cink Ryder Cups has been very Euro: Garcia successful and would have been first on Azinger’s team sheet for the fourballs and foursomes formats. Make no mistake, the U.S. will miss Tiger… In his absence, the top half of the automatic eight qualifiers (Azinger changed the U.S. selection criteria in 2007, allowing him four wildcards), has a steady but unspectacular feel. The frustratingly flakey Mickelson is still undoubtedly world-class on his day, while Jim Fuyrk, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard and Stewart Cink have enjoyed solid seasons and will provide leadership for their younger partners. But further down the list the doubts must be creeping into Captain Zinger’s mind. He can hardly have been thrilled that Ben Curtis’ admittedly strong performance at the USPGA Championship knocked Steve Stricker out of an automatic qualification berth. I suspect Curtis, Anthony Kim and the unwittingly charismatic Boo Weekley will all prove too inconsistent to contribute greatly to the US tally. Azinger’s new selection freedom may just backfire. The unique pressure and stress felt by all Ryder-cuppers (Davis Love III reported he could literally hardly get the clubhead past horizontal on his first Ryder Cup swing) is commonly magnified for the Captain’s picks. Gnawing uncertainty about the merit of their place can plague even the most experienced
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
golfer, especially if the selection is a controversial one. Zinger has stated his selections were based on latest form but then immediately made this a back-handed compliments by admitting that “nobody really jumped off the page” in recent weeks. His final selections include three rookies: Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and J.B. Holmes, in addition to Chad Campbell, who will earn a third appearance despite being woefully ineffective in his first two. I believe Zinger has taken a major gamble with these selections and is one I’m willing to take on. In choosing these young studs, he has overlooked both the older generation options of Rocco Mediate and Woody Austin who have the personality and fire to inspire both the team and spectators alike.
Investment Opportunities: Stay Alert!
For the sportingly minded, the Ryder Cup presents some attractive betting opportunities. But it is a contest where a punter must be ultranimble in order to capitalize. By staying glued to the TV, it is quite possible to notice players entering both hot and cold streaks. At the K Club in 2006, Stewart Cink and Darren Clarke were both obviously ‘in the zone’ for attentive punters. Most services offer ‘betting in running’, which allow instant investment when you spot either a hottie or a nottie. In terms of outright bets, playing the underdog has been astonishingly profitable over the years. In 2008 however, I believe the Euros have been rightly established as favourites and will deliver, although at untempting odds. Betting on the margin of victory must be purely for fun and while two out of the last three Euro triumphs have been by record margins, I believe the match will revert to the usual achingly close conclusion. A small punt on Europe to win by one point or less might provide some value. The final popular ante-post betting market is “Top Point Scorer”. This often throws up some surprise winners but I do believe it can be usefully narrowed down. Discard the elder statemen of both teams (Perry, Jimenez etc) who are unlikely to play more than three matches and hone in on the in-form, energetic and fit squad members. Sergio Garcia is a worthy ‘jolly’ for the Europeans but for value it might pay to focus on the Americans where I can see both Fuyrk and Cink being asked to play all five possible matches. An investment on either to be ‘Top American Scorer’ could be profitable. “What about Phil?,” I hear you ask. “Energy and fitness” I reiterate. From what we hear about the many events and banquets held during Ryder Cup week, chances are Phil will be Phul.
How to Putt Like a Champion Dr Paul Hurrion
The 5 putting keys Padraig Harrington used to dominate the greens of Royal Birkdale and Oakland Hills will help you putt like a major winner too
adraig Harrington becoming the first European to win the PGA Championship since 1930 was a tale of three putts: a 12-footer for par on the 16th to tie, a 10-footer at No.17 to take the lead, and a 15-foot putt at the end placing him in the history books. Majors are all about putting under pressure, and Padraig and I have worked hard to build a stroke that eliminates manipulation and promotes trust, no matter what the situation. Here are the five keystones Padraig uses every time he steps into a putt. They’ve made him one of the game’s elite putters, and they’ll help your game, too.
1.Set Your Foundation
Standing correctly to the ball is the centerpiece of my putting instruction—get this right and the rest of the keystones fall easily into place. Your
goal at address is to establish a posture that allows your shoulders to rock in a pendulum motion without any need for excess hand action or other compensations that won’t hold up under pressure. Copy the positions below:
Dr Paul Hurrion is a biomechanics expert and putting coach to some of golf's biggest names, including Padraig Harrington. He is also the designer of GEL Golf's Paul Hurrion Signature range of putters.
• Tilt forward so that the top of your back is parallel to the ground. Set the handle over the ball. • Flex your knees slightly, with your weight even over your heels and toes. • Check that a line drawn up the shaft runs through your right forearm. • You know you’re standing the correct distance from the ball when your left hand sits underneath the top of your back. • Place 55% of your weight over your left foot and 45% over your right. Sole your putter so that it sits directly under the center of your chest.
Happy Punting! WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
2.Get Square at Setup
The direction your putter face points at address largely determines where the ball will go, so it ’s vital that you set your blade per fec t ly square to the line of the putt. Don’t look only at your putter’s sweet spot when aiming—use the lines created by the heel and toe to make sure you’re pointing it in the right direction. • Use the alignment aid on your putter as well as the heel and toe sections to aim the putterface at your target. • A closed putter face at address will cause you to miss left or to make stroke adjustments that are difficult to time. • Even a slightly open putter face at address can cause you to miss your intended target to the right by several feet.
3.Re-create Address at Impact
Just like it did at address, your putter face should make a right angle with your intended line, both 2 inches before and 2 inches after impact. If you’re off here you’ll put either hook or cut spin on the ball and it will roll offline. This is especially true on slow greens where the thicker grass amplifies the effects of sidespin. • Set your putter face perpendicular to your intended line at address and make sure it’s perpendicular just before, during and just after impact. 58
Even if you nail the five keystones, they won’t do you much good if you don’t have the right equipment. If you’re like most amateurs, your putter is either too long or too short, which hinders your ability to sole the club flat on the ground at address – an absolute must. If the toe of your putter lifts up when you sole it on the ground, the face will point left of where you think you’re aimed, setting you up for an automatic miss. Furthermore, many putters on the market don’t make it easy for you to take advantage of the five keystones. I’ve recently designed a specialty line of flatsticks for GEL putters (www.gelgolf.com) that bring them all together.
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
4.Make an Upward Strike
Your ball comes off the face with the perfect amount of forward spin when you swing your blade up at a 1-degree angle through impact. Of course, this is impossible to get exactly right, but if you set up correctly, then your strike will take care of itself. The key is to play the ball an inch ahead of where your stroke bottoms out—do this, andyou’ll strike it at the correct angle. And where is this spot? An inch ahead of the spot on the ground that is directly beneath the center of your chest. • The loft of your putterface at address cannot be increased more than 1 degree at impact or the ball will “hop” off the putterface with zero forward spin. The ensuing roll is impossible to control. • Correct ball position gives you a slight upstrike and the optimal amount of forward spin.
5.Putt with Rhythm
Great putters stroke the ball with a free-and easy movement. To copy this rhythm, make a fluid transition from your backstroke to your forward stroke. Don’t rush this part of your swing! You want to almost pause your clubface at the end your backswing, then smoothly accelerate into impact. To further promote better rhythm, match the length of your backstroke to the length of your forward stroke. This motion allows you to hit the putt with the right speed without jerking your hands forward or decelerating through impact. • Match the length of your backstroke with the length of your forward stroke for better tempo and rhythm at any distance.
• MORE TIPS Dr. Hurrion’s putting keystones are based on years of research. Learn more about his high-tech approach at www.quintic.com. • SQUARING DEVICE Most of the putterhead is made from aluminum, giving you a softer feel (good for keystone #5) .We pair this light metal with heavy tungsten in the heel and toe sections, creating a higher MOI for less clubhead twisting.
Find a straight 8-foot putt on the practice putting green and... 1. Line up your putterface so that it points straight at the hole. Once you can do that consistently... 2. Make the putt. Once you can do that... 3. See how consistently you can roll the ball into the cup. From eight feet you should be able to make 10 in a row. Once you get to that point... 4. Try the putt from 4 feet and 16 feet. Your tempo stays the same—only the length of your stroke should change.
This system makes any putt a straight 8-footer, hit with either a longer or shorter stroke. The only variable is your read, and with a reliable stroke, you can give that part of your putting game the attention it deserves.
The GEL Sedo II, part of the new Hurrion Signature Range
• ROLL MODEL Our special face grooves are set at an angle that imparts the optimal amount of forward roll to your putts (which is the function of keystone #4). Run your thumb down the face and you’ll feel the grooves; run your thumb up the face and it feels perfectly smooth. • CONTROL CENTER We use a shaft designed to go into an iron head—it’s heavier and has much less torque than a standard putter shaft. This means the putterhead won’t twist as much on mishits, helping you lock down keystone #3.
A unique aiming line tells you when you have the putter pointed in the right direction when your eyes are in the right position, satisfying two keystones (#1 and #2) at the same time.
Putting It Together…
Great putters like Padraig, to borrow a phrase thrown around Tour practice greens, “really get into their putts.” By that I mean they read the green to establish an ultra-specific target and then turn all of their attention to getting the ball to that spot. Compare that to how you approach putting, where your reads are typically of the “I think it goes right” variety. Your goal should be to develop a stroke that you don’t have to worry about, so you can devote more time to judging slope and break. Here’s how we got to that point with Padraig: WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Around the Clubs The Hong Kong Golf Club Monthly Medal (Gross Section) 5 July H Matsui won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Composite Course with 77. Monthly Medal (Nett Section) 5 July J O D Black won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the Composite Course with 70. Sir David Trench Cup Qualifying Round 19 July H Matsui won the Sir David Trench Cup Qualifying Cup over the Composite Course with 35 points. M Sullivan was the runner-up with 21 points. Macwhinnie Cup Qaulifying Round 23 August A M Bulloch won the Macwhinnie Cup Qualifying Round played over the Old Course with +2. P Fishwick was the runner-up with -2. Monthly Medal (Gross Section) 30 August T Orgill won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Composite Course with 74. Monthly Medal (Nett Section) 30 August J J Moore won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the Composite Course with Nett 73. Moore won on countback over the last 6 holes from H Matsui.
Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club
Ladies Events July Medal 9 July Division 2Gross Winner: Division 2 Nett Winner: Division Nett Runner-up:
Paul Riley, head professional at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course, is smitten with the twelfth on the Gary Player-designed North Course
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Having said all that, my overall pick is the twelfth on the North Course. At 521 yards from the back tee and playing slightly downhill, it’s a hole most recreational golfers can reach in regulation. Distance is not really the concern. What I like so much about it is the location of the fairway bunkers (especially that mischievously placed one right in the middle at around 220 yards from the tee) and the movement of the fairway—left, right, left. Red stakes line the entire left hand side of the hole, which really threatens the longer hitters, while the typically dense Kau Sai Chau rough comes into play for those who stray too far to the right. From the tee and centre of the fairway you’re afforded terrific views of the ocean lying beyond the course. Played with a bit of respect the hole offers up par and birdie opportunities. But ignore its dangers and it has the potential to bite back hard. WWW.HKGA.COM
Akiko Harada (95) Liz Magnum (73) Cecilia Szeto (79)
July Stableford 16 July Division 2 Winner: Division 2 Runner-up:
Linda Wang (31 points) Esther Fu (29 points C/B)
August Medal 20 August Division 1 Gross Winner: Division 1 Nett Winner: Division 1 Nett Runner-up: Division 2 Gross Winner: Division 2 Nett Winner: Division 2 Nett Runner-up:
K R Shin (85 C/B) Anita Chu (73) Sunny Kang (74) Sue Hadaway (92) Liz Magnum (68) Chikako Yabe (76)
August Stableford 27 August Division 1 Winner: Felicia Louey (35 points) Division 1 Runner-up: Lydia Mak (34 points) Division 2 Winner: Peggy Wong (37 points) Division 2 Runner-up: Sue Hadaway (36 points)
y favourite hole at Kau Sai Chau? Can I have my favourite fifty-four? We’re very lucky to have such a broad spectrum of holes to choose from—many of which I consider to be truly great. Take the newly-opened East Course. I have to mention the par three thirteenth and the coasthugging fourteenth here. These two holes really capture the rugged beauty of Kau Sai Chau. Couple this with their stunning views over the South China Sea and the craggy islands beyond and you have a pair of holes that surely outrank all others in Asia in terms of jaw-dropping magnificence. Let’s not forget the South Course however. Although the shortest of the three, the back nine, as most of you will attest, is a formidable challenge. I always laugh when I hear people say it’s easy. Ha! I personally lose more balls on the South than on either of the other two courses. Gary Player designed the course perfectly. There’s great variety; a good mix of long and short holes. It really is the people’s course. The standout here for me is the par four twelfth. With its elevated tee and left-to-right sweeping fairway, the onus is definitely on precision. Hit it straight or be punished—which applies to both the tee shot and the approach. A great hole.
J K Lieu Cup 6 July Winners: Runners-up:
Patrick Tam & Chow Tak Yiu Glenn Yee & Mike Brown
Captain’s Cup 20 July Gross Winner: Gross Runner-up: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:
Eugene Pak (82) Tommy Shiu (83) Chow Tak-yiu (68) Mike Brown (71)
Chairman’s Cup 20 July Winner: Runner-up:
Calvin So (42 points) Dennis Mak (41 points)
Captain’s Cup 30 August Gross Winner: Gross Runner-up: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:
Raaj Shah (77) Tony Melloy (84) Rodney Chung (68) Peter Sun (69)
Chairman’s Cup 30 August Winner: Peter Ma (41 points) Runner-up: Steven Chan (36 points C/B)
Discovery Bay Golf Club Ladies Events MacGregor Bogey Competition 3 Aug Winner: Candy Lai (+8) Runner-up: Rebecca Ho (+2 C/B) 2nd Runner-up: Marsha Ko (+2) Best Gross: Eileen Ling (-6) Medal 31 Aug Division A Winner: Division B Winner: Best Gross:
Wendy Cho (69) J J Kim (45 points) Mari Maeda (79)
Men’s Events MacGregor Bogey Competition 3 Aug Winner: Jamo Lo (+8) Runner-up: Hiroshi Ishii (+6) 2nd Runner-up: S I Lee (+5) Best Gross: David Lau (-1) Medal 31 Aug Division A Winner: Division B Winner: Division A & B Winner: Division C Winner:
Matajiro Nagatomi (Nett 68) Danny Ho (Nett 66) Shinichi Mizuno (75) Ronald Tong (45 points)
Julius Baer Inter-Club League Standings Final Standings Premier Division Played HKGC 4 DBGC 4 CWBG&CC 4
Won 4 2 0
Lost 0 2 4
Halved 0 0 0
Points 8 4 0
First Division Played HKGC 6 CWBG&CC 6 DBGC 6 SOCC 6
Won 5 4 2 1
Lost 1 2 4 5
Halved 0 0 0 0
Points 10 8 4 2
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
MONTGOMERIE LINKS ESTATES
COLQUHOUN Price: US$371,000 (HK$2.9 million) for 12-week share via fractional ownership Location: Loch Lomond, Argyll, Scotland Golf Course: The Carrick, De Vere Cameron House Resort Features: Two bedroom apartments, including golf club and spa membership fees. Description: Situated on the western banks of stunning Loch Lomond, the part ownership deal with these five-star, fully furnished apartments, housed within historical Colquhoun Mansion on the boundaries of the newly opened Carrick course, allows access for twelve weeks of the year. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the first to acquire fractional ownership. Contact: Savills Glasgow; +44 (0)141 222 5886
Expand your horizons with these hot properties COMPILED BY ELLEN CHENG
hether you’re looking a holiday base, a dream pad or you’re simply in the market for a real estate investment, these stunning homes have one thing in common— they’re just a pitching wedge away from first-class golf.
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Price: US$725,000-1.2 million (HK$5.6 million-9.3 million) Location: Danang, Vietnam Golf Course: The Montgomerie Links Features: Three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, private pool, designer kitchen, balcony, terrace, maid’s quarters, plus family membership to the golf club. Description: Superbly situated just off fabled China Beach, these contemporary designed villas, which are scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2010, lie within a gated enclosure, offering residents a private and secure community only twenty minutes from Danang’s international airport. With views of the South China Sea, the Marble mountains and the rollicking links [see July/ Aug issue of HK Golfer], the development is set to raise the bar for golf living the continent over. Fifty year leasehold on property is available to foreigners. Contact: www.montgomerielinks.com/ estates
SOTOGRANDE Price: US$7.2 million (over HK$56 million) Location: Sotogrande, Andalucia, Spain Golf Course: Real Club de Golf Sotogrande Features: Five bedrooms, five bathrooms, private infinity pool, pergola with barbeque area, home cinema, Italian marble floors, landscaped garden. Description: This magnificent Spanish villa overlooks the classic Robert Trent Jones-designed course, one of Europe’s most famous layouts, twenty kilometers from Gibraltar. Sotogrande Beach Club is just a few minutes’ drive away. Not that you need to spend extra on transport: two cars are included within the price—a stately Bentley and a zippy little Renault Clio. Contact: Savills International; +44 7016 3811
ST MELLION Price: US$437,600-860,200 (HK$3.4 million-6.7million) Location: West Wollaton, Cornwall, England Golf Course: St Mellion International Resort Features: Two to five bedroom apartments and houses with access to luxury hotel facilities, pool complex, spa, crèche, restaurant, tennis courts, members’ bar and clubhouse. Description: These environmentallyfriendly (low-energy) holiday homes, which are currently under construction, will be part of an all-encompassing US$200 million resort project close to the southwestern port of Plymouth. Positioned aside the seventeenth fairway of the much-lauded Nicklaus Course, venue of the English Open from 2009-2013, each property features a balcony and double-height sun space, affording fine views across the Cornish countryside. Contact: www.livingvillageatstmellion.com WWW.HKGA.COM
LUHU PARKVIEW Price: US$6,400-10,000 per month rental Location: Guangzhou, China Golf Course: Luhu Golf & Country Club Features: Three to four bedrooms, large private garden, housekeeping, course and country club access. Description: Located in the heart of Guangzhou, less than thirty minutes from the city’s international airport, this low density gated community comprises a range of western-style villas nestled adjacent to the Dave Thomas-designed course and amenity-packed clubhouse. Contact: +86 (0)20 3892 7139 WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Water Torture Vincent Leung, general manager at SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course, talks about the intimidating seventh, which features Hong Kong’s only island green.
think Nine Eagles’ greatest strength lies in the variety of its par threes. The two par fours are fun to play, but for me, the one-shotters really make the course. More often than not, you’ll need to hit a different club for each tee shot, which shows what a fine job Sandy Duggie from Urbis did in designing the course. It might be considered relatively short, but this is certainly no pitch and putt—it really gives your irons and wedges a great work out. There are a number of holes that I could have chosen as my favourite. The second, with its turtleback green (reminiscent of those devilish putting surfaces at Pinehurst No. 2), is a very strong hole, while the short third, which is surrounded by vast acres of sand, tests the nerves early on. The toughest hole on the course is undoubtedly the 207-yard eighth, which is ringed by a number of very deep links-like pot bunkers. A par here is a truly great score. 64
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
But my pick has to be the seventh. The main feature of the hole is the island green (the only one in Hong Kong), which adds a lot of intimidation to what should be a fairly straightforward tee shot. The yardage indicates an eight- or nine iron, but with the wind swirling it can play anything from a five iron to a wedge. Distance control is crucial, because the large green features two tiers. If the pin is cut on the lower front portion and you go long, it’s a really tough two-putt for par. My personal record on the hole is not great. I’m ashamed to say I have never managed a birdie and have found the water on plenty occasions. But it’s still my favorite. It’s the kind of hole that makes you think like crazy—in fact it probably makes you think too much, which is why I like it. It just goes to show that you don’t have to make a hole long for it to be challenging and architecturally great.
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
Golf in the Olympics?
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More than likely, 2016 will see the re-emergence of golf at the Games. But what form will it take and, more importantly, will it really matter?
Y A R D S
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By Mathew Scott
ut it down to the fact that pulses were still beating fast after all the fireworks and fanfare of the Beijing Olympics but sportswriters the world over—keen to keep the flame burning, so to speak—have immediately turned their attention to the debate about golf and the Games. And while countless column inches have been given over to the issue, most seemed to have missed the point entirely. Golf at the Olympics is simply not a case of if but of when. Initially, two spots are up for grabs at the 2016 Games—and it seems the sports battling it out with golf will include baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby, softball and squash, according to the PGA Tour. But if they look at this realistically, deep down inside the Tour must know the battle has already been won. In the modern sporting world, it is money that matters. And the IOC must be licking its lips at the thought of getting a slice of golf’s corporate pie. This is, after all, the organization that had basketballers in Beijing up and on court while still wiping the sleep from their eyes, and had swimmers splashing down way past their bed times—all to satisfy the American TV networks (and the millions they provide). Given the chance, they’ll move mountains to accommodate the corporations and their cash. And that’s not a criticism. It’s a fact. What golf also has going for it is the fact that the game’s organizers seem unified behind the move—the PGA Tour, R&A, USGA, LPGA and Augusta National have all been nodding their heads in agreement. “I have no doubt that Olympic golf is comfortably the biggest grow-the-game opportunity that exists to help us bring golf to so many countries where it's just starting up,’’ said R&A secretary Peter Dawson recently. And while that may well be so, the two main obstacles the game will face in chasing its Olympic dream are how to win over the players—and how to play the game. How exactly do you format Olympic golf? Do you opt for matchplay? Structure it into two-man teams a la The World Cup? And how many players get invited, and how do they qualify? More is the point, of course, how do you get players to really, truly, care? While some—Tiger Woods included—are warm to the idea of golf at the Games, just as many have come out against the move. “I don’t think there's any place for golf in the Olympics,’’ 66
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008
was Australian Adam In the modern sporting Scott ’s take on t he world, it is money that issue. “I didn't grow matters. And the IOC must up looking to win an be licking its lips at the Olympic medal. I grew up tr ying to win a thought of getting a slice Green Jacket.’’ of golf’s corporate pie. And therein lies the catch. As anyone who took in the tennis in Beijing can tell you, the fields consisted of just as many players who didn’t seem to care (Andy Murray, anyone?) as those who obviously did. It seems this remains the one set-back to allowing professional sportspeople into the Olympics. Suddenly, they have a new event to compete with the ones they have spent a life-time striving to win. And while golf does have an Olympic history—it was taken off the roster back in 1904—how do you suddenly make it mean as much, to everyone, as events such as the four Majors, or the Ryder Cup? Open champ Padraig Harrington, for one, believes it will take time. A lot of time. “Maybe in 50 or 100 years time, the Olympics would be [considered] the fifth Major,’’ he told the Irish Times. “But it wouldn't be at the moment.’’ You only have to look at the American basketball team to see how it can all go wrong. The NBA’s pros were let in back in 1992 to help boost interest in the Games—and the sport. But once the novelty had worn off, the move became an embarrassment. And the top players just didn’t want to play. There was gold in ’92, but by Athens in 2004, the American billionaires had been beaten into third place. It took a concerted, three-year commitment to get them to gold again in Beijing and their coach, Mike Krzyzewsk said before the event it became less about finding the best “names’’, and more about finding those that wanted to play. “We had to start all over again and get together a bunch of players for whom the Olympics meant as much as anything in their careers,’’ he said. And, for golf, finding those kinds of players will be the toughest task ahead. Note: The views are the writer’s own and not necessarily those of the Hong Kong Golf Association. WWW.HKGA.COM
At Ocean Dunes Golf Club, the sea is so close you can almost touch it. There it is as you hole a putt on 9.Then, just to your left, as you tee off on 13. Masters champion Nick Faldo designed the links-style gem, his only course in Vietnam.You’ll love the golf. But be careful: Mother Nature may distract you. The world is talking about golf in Vietnam. See for yourself why Ocean Dunes is ranked at the top. Special Summer packages now available. +84 (62) 823366 • email@example.com • www.vietnamgolfresorts.com
Golden Era Golf in Vietnam
DALAT PALACE GOLF CLUB
Perched high in the mountains of Vietnam with flawless bent-grass greens sits 18 acclaimed and storied holes of world-class golf. Come play what Golf Digest and Asian Golf Monthly called “The #1 Golf Course in Vietnam” in 2007. Special VIP Summer packages now available.
+84 (63) 821201 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vietnamgolfresorts.com
HK GOLFER・SEPT/OCT 2008