HK Golfer Final Shot: The European Tour’s Race to Dubai
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
HONG KONG OPEN SOUVENIR ISSUE
World Cup Preview Golf Travel: Yunnan Tour Diary
From the President Welcome to the 50th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Open. This year marks a very important milestone in the tournament’s rich history. The Hong Kong Open has been played at The Hong Kong Golf Club every year since its inauguration in 1959, thereby establishing an unrivalled reputation as one of the oldest professional golf events in the world with a rich heritage and proud tradition. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of UBS whose commitment to the championship since 2005 has enabled us to attract world-class golfers to Hong Kong. This year’s tournament has once again brought together elite players from all corners of the globe and I am confident that Hong Kong’s burgeoning number of golf fans will be thrilled with their expertise over what promises to be four days of intense competition. It is also my expectation that the championship will provide great inspiration to Hong Kong’s younger generation of golfers. The development of golf in the SAR has always been a crucial focus of the Hong Kong Golf Association, and I am delighted to see that we now have many talented young golfers in the territory. 2006 has proved to be an extremely successful year for junior golf, with our players recording outstanding results both at home and overseas. It is my great hope to see many of them representing Hong Kong at this championship in the future. On behalf of the Hong Kong Golf Association, I wish all those involved in the UBS Hong Kong Open a highly successful championship and I hope that all the spectators will enjoy golf of the highest quality.
HK Golfer THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION November/December 2008 • Issue 37
Editor: Alex Jenkins email: email@example.com 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 Queen’s Road Central Hong Kong Phone: +852 2159-9427 • 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; firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org HK GOLFER is printed in Hong Kong by Regal Printing Limited, Good Prospect Factory Bldg, 33-35 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong.
Richard Siemens President Hong Kong Golf Association
HK Golfer is available onboard all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair First and Business Class cabins.
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Features 26 | HKO History: 1959 and All That Memories from the first Hong Kong Open
32 | Interview: The Art of Design
We sit down with JMP’s Mark Hollinger, one of the most prolific golf course architects working in China today
38 | Tour Diary: Fortis International Challenge
HK Golfer charts Hong Kong’s progress at the World Cup qualifier
43 | Golf Escapes: The Heart of China Great golf awaits in Yunnan province
58 | China Tour: A Fitting Finale
HK Golfer reports from the Omega Championship
65| Asians on Tour: The Boys from Busan Why Korean male golfers are finally emerging from the shadow of their female compatriots
4 | From the President
By Richard Siemens
8 | Mailbag
10 | Clubhouse Style, News and Stats
17 | Divots
News from HK and around the region
18 | Tournament Update The latest event news
22 | Junior Training With Brad Schadewitz
35 | Turf Talk
With Rick Hamilton
56 | Golf Homes
International Real Estate
62 | World Cup Punting With Archie Albatross
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
70 | Final Shot With Mathew Scott
HK Golfer E-mailbag
Your thoughts, feelings, concerns and felicitations STAR LETTER H ATTITUDE MATTERS
Asked to name the most common violations of etiquette you see on the course, golfers can easily cite things like unnecessarily slow play, failing to rake bunkers, not fixing divots on the fairways and ball marks on the greens. These problems have been around for goodness knows how many years, but why is that? Surely if you see someone about to play a shot you will stop, be quiet and respect the fact that golf takes an enormous amount of concentration—concentration that can easily be broken by someone dragging a trolley around the green or chatting to his or her playing partners. I think it’s time for all of us to stop and reflect on the things we know. To be a good golfer it takes more than good technical ability. Attitude matters. We seldom see ourselves as others see us. But a little adjustment can make a big difference. Next time before we go to play golf, we should all remind ourselves of this fact. It will make the game more enjoyable for all. Adrian Ma Tsuen Wan Editor replies: Excellent point, Adrian and congratulations. As winner of this issue’s Star Letter, you’ll receive a topof-the-range GEL putter and a putting lesson with Dr Paul Hurron, Padraig Harrington’s putting coach, who’ll be in Hong Kong for the UBS Hong Kong Open. Our thanks to GEL Golf.
DUBAI DRESS CODE
While reading your article on golf in Dubai (“Desert Miracle,” September/October) I couldn’t help but wonder: what are the dress and/or tee-time restrictions for women over there? Amanda Chan Repulse Bay Editor replies: Generally speaking, the rules and regulations for women’s play in the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located, are similar to clubs in Hong Kong. At the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, for instance, women golfers are permitted to wear sleeveless collared shirts, shorts and skirts and there are no tee-time restrictions. But as with all courses you’re playing for the first time, it’s a good idea to call ahead to determine the club’s specific regulations.
My husband is a very keen golfer so I am thinking about buying him a golf club (or clubs) for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions on which brand to get? Name and address withheld Editor’s Reply: That’s a great idea (I hope my own wife is reading this!) but a word of advice: take him to the pro shop with you. First of all, golfers are very fickle about their equipment, but more importantly, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to golf clubs. You could go and buy the most expensive driver on the market, but there’s absolutely no guarantee it will suit your husband. If you want to surprise him the best thing to do is book an equipment fitting lesson with a certified clubmaker. That way, he’ll get to choose the clubs he wants and the experts will ensure that they’re tailored to suit his game.
STAR LETTER: WIN THE WINNING YES! PUTTER Yes! secured its second win of the year on the Asian Tour at last month’s Macau Open with David Gleeson winning wire-to-wire and setting a new scoring record. David, who used his trusty Yes! Callie putter, said "That putter was so hot all week!" The winner of next issue’s Star Letter will win the same Callie model, so keep those letters coming in. But not only will you get the putter, you'll also be fitted by a Yes! specialist to ensure your putter is perfectly suited for you. Yes! is the number one independent putter company on the Asian Tour. Find out why Yes! rolls putts better with their proven patented original ‘C-Groove’ technology. Please send all letters by email to: email@example.com
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
All Change at
Revamped club to celebrate opening of new Golf School with exclusive Butch Harmon Invitational tournament
ig things are happening over at Orient Golf (Macau) Club. The 18-hole course, located on Macau’s rapidly developing Cotai Strip, was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest casino operator by revenue, in September 2007—and since then the group has ushered in a series of sweeping changes to transform the club into a world-class golfing centre. Expansion and significant course upgrading is taking place over multiple phases. A new stateof-the-art driving range, complete with the latest technology to help improve your game, will soon be completed, and the par-72 course is being given a complete landscaping overhaul, enhancing the playing experience markedly. The final phase of redevelopment will entail tearing down the existing clubhouse and rebuilding it into one of the region’s most luxurious facilities to complement the one-of-a-kind golf experience. The club’s jewel in the crown will be the Butch Harmon School of Golf, which is set to make the club the premier instructional facility in the region. Harmon is a legend in the world of golf instruction. Voted No. 1 for the fourth straight time in Golf Digest ’s biennial survey of America’s 50 Greatest Teachers, the charismatic instructor has coached some of the world’s finest players, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Natalie Gulbis. The son of 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon
Sr., Harmon achieved PGA Tour success in the 1970s before turning his talents to the art of teaching. He is also the author of several acclaimed golf books, including The Pro, an autobiographical account describing his life in the game with his father, brothers, friends and the top players he has coached. To celebrate the opening of the School, Harmon will visit Macau in December—where he will host the Butch Harmon Invitational tournament and give a two-hour golf clinic— his first in Greater China. See below for further information on the Butch Harmon Invitational and details on how you can join the world’s premier golf coach for an exclusive golfing experience.
Sign up for the Butch Harmon Invitational Taking place on 14 December, the Butch Harmon Invitational at Orient Golf (Macau) Club will be hosted by the legendary instructor to mark the opening of the Butch Harmon School of Golf - Macau. Butch will personally lead a two-hour intensive golf clinic focusing on key elements of the game. Butch will also join each flight for one hole during the Invitational to help each player to apply the lessons he has learned to tournament golf. Guests will also receive a photo with Butch and an exclusive gift bag including an autographed copy of The Pro, his bestselling autobiography.
Package per flight (group of 4): HK$50,000 or HK$12,000 per person Includes official welcome breakfast and lunch, Butch Harmon signature golf clinic, 18-hole Texas Scramble tournament, 2008 Butch Harmon Invitational gift bag, awards presentation dinner, all green fees, caddie fees and golf equipment. For more details and entry form visit www.harrahs.com/butchharmon
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
PLAYER WATCH China’s number one Liang Wen-chong warmed up for the UBS Hong Kong Open with a gutsy one-stroke victory at the Hero Indian Open last month. The highlight of his week was undoubtedly his brilliant first round of 60 (12-under-par), the lowest round ever recorded on the Asian Tour. Played over the short but narrow par-72 Delhi Golf Club, Liang’s amazing scorecard looked like this:
Wine Investment -Miracle or Myth? As the bids for the prized bottles approached the previous record, the excited buzz in the room turned to a hushed, nervous silence. Hands that had previously been raised with proud Gallic defiance and courage were firmly clenched in reluctant, defeated laps, some pinned there by the piercing glower of fuming spouses who could never understand why their husbands were so obsessed with accumulating more wine than they could ever possibly consume. Then the brokers manning the phones stood up and took over the show. The crowd was treated to a superb match of phone tennis as the combatants slugged it out for the trophy:
OUT: 3, 4, 2, 4, 4, 4, 4, 2, 5 = 32 IN: 4, 3, 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 3 = 28
With numbers like that, the Zhongshan-born Liang has raised local expectations that he can become the first Asian golfer to win the Hong Kong Open since Korea’s Kang Wooksoon in 1998.
1600 Euro, 1700, 1750, 1800, 1850, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943...and finally, 1944 Euro. Sold.
NUMBERS GAME Number of Hong Kong Opens won by Major Champions: 12 Number of Hong Kong Opens won by Asian golfers: 16 Total prize purse in 1959, the first year of the HKO: £2,000 Total prize purse in 2001, the first year the HKO became a European Tour event: US$700,000 Total prize purse in 2008: US$2.5 million Stroke average of the par-four ninth, ranked the most difficult hole at the 2007 HKO: 4.36 Stroke average of the par-five thirteenth, ranked the easiest hole at the 2007 HKO: 4.55
the truth of the matter is that I didn’t actually know it was going on. I “wasWell lying on the beach in Australia and saw a report on the tournament in the
newspaper. I thought, ‘hey, they are playing the Hong Kong Open—why I am not there.’ I made sure I was there the next year. ” - The legendary Peter Thomson explaining why he didn’t attend the first Hong Kong Open in 1959. Thomson, now 79, made up for his absence that year by winning three of the next eight championships at Fanling (1960, 1965 and 1967).
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In late September, against a backdrop of global financial markets staggering ever closer to calamity, six bottles of Chateau Lafite 1982 were listed at a prominent Paris auction. Lehman Brothers had just disappeared after 158 years of successful operations, taking with it the investment parameters we had all come to trust inherently. The foundations of our understanding of the global financial markets and their players were being shaken to the core. Fear had replaced greed as the primary instinct. Notwithstanding this, only a few days earlier a London auction of a variety of Hirst pickled animal carcasses had elicited prices normally reserved for the services of David Beckham (or the price of an Icelandic bank or two). This despite predictions that the brooding gloom would depress interest in the art market. Not yet apparently. Thus it was with much anticipation and interest that the 6 bottles were paraded before the crowded room and the online bidders. They were exChateau, so provenance was impeccable. Wines of lesser pedigree are often ubiquitously described as “from the collection of a gentleman collector”, a term used quite liberally in auction parlance where provenance is known but not necessarily verified. WWW.HKGA.COM
A new record! Crisis?! What crisis? The stunned room erupted into rapturous applause. (I have always been baffled why auction purchases elicit applause. Is it really an outpouring of appreciation and goodwill as some have explained to me? If there are any psychologists out there, please elaborate.) The excited chatter afterwards revealed that “deux amateurs Chinois” had provided the bidding spectacle. Some scoffed and called it a rash burst of testosterone driven folly. Others winced as they remorsefully contemplated that the baton of wealth creation had moved all too demonstratively from West to East. Jubilant brokers of wine funds , extrapolating that the sale would re-price all investment wines, were frantically relaying the news back to their clients, offering compliments on their purchasing wisdom and exhorting them to commit funds to the 2007 offerings that had so far been ignored. So, what are we to surmise from this? Should we conclude that every asset class is in brutal decline but that art and wine are not? I doubt it, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Art is its own peculiar theatre where investors seem to hope that the creator dies before becoming too prolific. Frankly, I find it all too strange and a bit silly. Regarding wine, the audience is much larger and the supply/demand dynamics easier to understand. However, whilst wine prices can defy gravity for a while, I do not believe they can sustain their spectacular performance. I am also particularly sceptical of the process used to price portfolios because the market is neither transparent nor particularly efficient. Why am I of this opinion? Mainly due to the fact that at the same time as records were being set in Paris, my own business had two bottles of impeccably cellared 1982 Lafite being auctioned in Hong Kong with reserve prices of US$1300 USD (920 euro at the time). These received no bids at all, despite lots of curious enquiries. The same auction saw the following trade at an average of 30% under retail: Montrose 1996 and 2003, Poyferre 2000, Haut Brion 1988/1995/1998, Latour 2001, Margaux 1989/1992/2004, Glaetzer Amon Ra 2005, Greenock Creek Alices 2000/01/02/04/06, Mollydooker Carnival of Love 2005, Penfolds Grange 2003, Kaesler old Bastard 2005, D’arenberg Dead Arm 1999/00/01, Silver Oak 1997, Screaming Eagle 1999, Sassiacai 2000. HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Professional golf tournaments are an equipment junkie’s dream. Not only do golfing anoraks get to see their favourite players battle it out in the heat of competition but, far more importantly, they get to check out the pros’ latest gear. Although you yourself might not fit this particular description, there’s sure to be a fair few models of famous brands that you haven’t yet seen, including the new 909 series of drivers from Titleist. Available in Hong Kong within the next month, the 909 range comprises three models: 909DComp, 909D2 and 909D3. Featuring a classic pear-shaped profile with a graphite crown married into the titanium head, the range is expected to appeal to a broad spectrum of players thanks to their wide range of launch options. Although the D3, with it’s smaller 440cc head and low spinning launch characteristics, is billed as the most workable of the three, expect to see the majority of Titleist pros at Fanling opt for the D2 model, which has already been used to great success by PGA Tour Chez Reavie who won the RBC Canadian Open with one in the bag. To accompany the driver range, a series of 909 fairway woods and hybrid clubs will also be available. Drivers from HK$5,100. Special Edition models (D2 and D3) $7,500. Visit www.titleist.com for more information.
What is going on? I understand and admit that internet wine auctions have not captured the imaginations of the Asian wine buying public as much as I might expect but they are now an integral part of the global wine trade. They provide much needed liquidity and transparency and will increasingly dominate the premium marketplace as time moves forward. Perhaps more importantly, they provide discerning buyers with outstanding opportunities to purchase exceptional wines at prices well below retail, and often well below auction prices in Europe and USA. European wine brokers insist that wines located in Asia (and the USA) should trade at a deep discount to European cellared wine due to the provenance factor. That is all well and good but the same logic would lead one to conclude that Asian buyers should thus get a discount if they buy for consumption in Asia as their wine will devalue massively once it is shipped. Or, putting it another way, Asian buyers should never contemplate moving the wine to Asia. This all seems ridiculous when it is the Asian investor/consumer who is being touted as one of the main drivers behind wine price increases. It also flies in the face of the intense battle between all the major auction houses which are now clamouring for position in Hong Kong. There are significant holdings of super premium wines that are being lovingly and professionally cellared in Asia. Are we really to believe that they are worth less than half the
value of their European equivalents because their owners have moved them closer to home? All too hard? I agree. The inconsistencies and irregularities are typical of illiquid, esoteric asset classes. Can we really have a sensible discussion on portfolio valuation based on the sale of 6 bottles in Paris or the lack of a sale of 2 bottles in Hong Kong? Wine investment? Sure, why not. The numbers so far seem to indicate some select few wines will always rise in value, but this should be seen as the exception rather than the rule. Be wary of the valuations you are advised of and make sure you have a clear exit strategy. It may not be wise to value your investment on a handful of wines that trade in a small secondary market and thereby convince yourself that this represents the realisable value of the wines. Nor should you value your wines based on restaurant or retail outlet price lists! Big positions in illiquid assets aren’t always the easiest things to unwind should an investor need to liquidate. Just ask Lehman Brothers. The best thing about investment in wine is that you can always pop the cork and enjoy it for the reason it was made to provide pure pleasure. Cheers.—Robert Rees Robert is founder of Wine Exchange Asia, a 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
HONG KONG OPEN PAST WINNERS
Lu Liang Huan
Ho Ming Chung
Hsieh Min Nan
Hsieh Yung Yo
Hsieh Yung Yo
Kuo Chi Hsiung
Hsieh Yung Yo
Chen Tze Ming
Kang Wook Soon
2000 Simon Dyson
Jose Maria Olazabal ESP
Isao Katsumata JPN
2004 Miguel Angel Jimenez ESP
Hsieh Chin Sheng
2005 Colin Montgomerie
2006 Jose Manuel Lara
Lu Liang Huan
Hsieh Yung Yo
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Miguel Angel Jimenez ESP Denotes a Major winner
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
HKGC TRIUMPH AGAIN 50% OFF UBS HK OPEN TICKETS HKGA subscribers are entitled to half-price tickets at this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open, which runs 20-23 November at The Hong Kong Golf Club. Prices are as follows:
Congratulations to The Hong Kong Golf Club for finishing at the top of both divisions in the Julius Baer Inter-Club League. In the Premier Division, HKGC won all four of their matches to successfully defend the title they won in 2007. Discovery Bay Golf Club finished in second place. In the First Division, HKGC took revenge for their narrow one point loss to Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club in the league last year by winning five of their six matches to finish ahead of their rivals by two points. Discovery Bay placed third. The HKGA wishes to thank Julius Baer for their support of the Inter-Club League and their commitment to golf in Hong Kong over the years.
$60 for Thursday $60 for Friday $125 for Saturday $150 for Sunday $200 for Season (Thurs-Sun)
Note: Juniors under the age of 16 are free of charge Tickets will be available at the entrance of the Hong Kong Golf Club between Nov 20 and Nov 23. To obtain a discount, HKGA subscribers must present their 2008 HKGA handicap card.
AHEAD of the Game
Specialist custom golf apparel and headwear manufacturer arrives in Asia
cknowledged as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of golf apparel, headwear and golfing accessories, AHEAD’s arrival in the region spells great news for event managers and corporate buyers looking for a superior quality and range of branded merchandise. Although the company’s own fine series of self-branded products, which are endorsed by some of golf’s most notable names including the “big three” of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, are widely available in the retail market, it is AHEAD’s wealth of unique customization options that has made the Massachusetts-based company the number one designer of branded headwear and apparel in the United States. As Dominique Boulet of Impact Golf Management Group, which distributes the brand in Hong Kong, Macau and China, explains. “Over the years, AHEAD has worked with a huge number of golf clubs, event governing bodies and corporations to produce quality logo’d merchandise tailored to specific requirements. The wide range of products and attention to detail is what separates AHEAD from other manufacturers.” Primarily known as a cap and visor designer (the company produces 82% of the branded headwear market in the United States), AHEAD diversified into apparel six years ago—and with instant success. In 2004, Retief Goosen won the US Open wearing Ahead clothing and now apparel accounts for approximately 30% of sales. “The apparel side of the business has really taken off, and again it’s all 16
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
about choice and quality,” says Boulet. “From the latest performance fabrics to traditional cotton and knitwear, all of which is available in an extraordinary number of styles and colours, the AHEAD range has something for everyone.”
Premier Division Played HKGC 4 DBGC 4 CWBG&CC 4
AHEAD products are distributed in Hong Kong, Macau and China by Impact Golf Management Group. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (852) 25417452.
HKGC CWBG&CC DBGC SOCC
Played 6 6 6 6
Won 4 2 0
Lost 0 2 4
Halved 0 0 0
Points 8 4 0
Won 5 4 2 1
Lost 1 2 4 5
Halved 0 1 0 0
Points 10 8 4 2
Eva Turns Pro Former Hong Kong international representative Eva Yoe has turned professional. Eva, the Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Close champion in 2003, graduated from Santa Monica College earlier this year and made the switch to the professional game after a successful couple of seasons playing college golf in California. In September, Eva’s hopes of making it on to the LPGA Tour next season were thwarted after she missed the cut at the sectional qualifying event. “I was disappointed to miss the cut but it was a great experience,” she said. Her next competitive tournament will be in November when she attends the Futures Tour qualifying school. To read more about Eva, visit her website at www.freewebs.com/hnevayoe WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Asistio Races to KSC Triumph
2008 Kau Sai Chau International Open 30 October – 1 November, North Course, Kau Sai Chau
HK Blown Off Course Down Under
26th Eisenhower Trophy 16-19 October Royal Adelaide GC & Grange GC
Hong Kong struggled in difficult conditions at the World Amateur Team Championship (Eisenhower Trophy) in Australia last month, ending the prestigious biennial event in fifty-third place. The team, which comprised Stuart Murray, Eric Saxvik and Mickey Chan, finished on a four-day total of 627 (47-over-par), sixty-seven shots behind champions Scotland (20-under-par). The United States placed second, nine shots back. “Each of the players prepared well for the event, but the very windy conditions blew us of track,” said non-playing captain Joe Pethes. “The team worked really hard, and we SCORES had our moments, but in the end we just put 1 Scotland 560 too much pressure on our short games.” 2 United States 569 Chan, 18, finished as Hong Kong’s best3 Sweden 574 placed player in the individual event—rounds 4= France 575 of 77, 73, 74 and 84 over the demanding Italy 575 Royal Adelaide and Grange courses earned 56 HONG KONG 627 him a tie for 106th.
Huang Crowned Yinli HKPGA Champ th
6 Yinli-HKPGA Classic 21-22 October, Yinli Golf Club
Antonio Asistio from the Philippines tamed the windswept North Course at Kau Sai Chau to record a convincing nine-stroke victory at the Kau Sai Chau International Open. Manila-based Asistio, who finished fourth at the Masters Golf Fashion Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship at Fanling the week before, fired rounds of 71, 72 and 73 for a three round total of 216 (level par). Australia’s Mark Leich and Asistio’s compatriot Anthony Fernando tied for second on 225. Steven Lam was Hong Kong’s highest placed finisher—his 227 total earning him fifth spot. “It’s a beautiful but very difficult course,” said Asistio of the Gary Player-designed layout. “But I managed to cope with the conditions and played well all week. It’s a good win for me.” Lou Isabelle Manalo made it a clean sweep for the Philippines with her victory in the ladies’ division. Manalo finished on a total of 224 to win by eight shots from Chihiro I ked a. Ta m Yi kching placed third, a further ten strokes adrift. SCORES 1 Antonio Asistio 2= Mark Leich Anthony Fernando 4 Peter Villaber 5 Steven Lam
Philippines Australia Philippines Philippines Hong Kong
216 (71-72-73) 225 (75-77-73) 225 (73-74-78) 226 (71-76-79) 227 (76-72-79)
Thidapa Cruises to Ladies Triumph
Long-hitting Thai overcomes strong field for impressive victory PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK LEUNG
Chinese Taipei’s Huang Tung-liang shot a final round of 67 to overhaul Hong Kong’s Wong Woon-man and win the 6th Yinli HKPGA Classic. Huang finished the HK$860,000 event on a two day total of 141 (3-under-par) to pip Wong, the overnight leader, by just one shot. Wong, an Omega China Tour regular who carded a faultless 68 in the first round, had to settle for second place alongside Chinese Taipei’s Chen Ming-hsin. Derek Fung finished in fourth place on level par. “I didn’t have a good first round—I couldn’t get used to the greens,” said Huang. “But I adjusted on the second day and was able to hit a lot of good approach shots. I’m really happy and will definitely come back next year and defend my title.” China’s Hu Ling won the inaugural ladies’ event by two shots from Hong Kong amateur Stephanie Ho. Hu finished on a 2-under-par total of 142. Rani Pomareda finished third on 146. 18
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
hailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura showed why she’s one of the hottest properties in Asian ladies golf with a convincing victory at the Helene et Henri Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Open Championship at Clearwater Bay Golf Club in late September. The 15-year-old was consistency personified over the clifftop course, firing a three day total of 215 (five-over-par) to outlast Hong Kong’s Stephanie Ho by seven shots. Thidapa’s compatriot Jaruporn Palakawong finished in third, a further four shots adrift. WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
“I’m delighted because this is a really big tournament for me,” beamed Bangkok-based Thidapa. “The field was strong and the weather on the first day made the course play very difficult. I knew I had to perform really well to have a chance.” She certainly wasn’t wrong about the weat her. High winds—t he remnants of Typhoon Hagupit, which had locked down much of Hong Kong only a day before—caused a delay to the start of the tournament—and, more significantly, made low scoring really hard to come by. But Thidapa, whose powerful swing enables her to drive the ball in excess of 260 yards, was rock solid throughout in her opening 73 and she was able to follow up that fine effort with matching 71s to coast to her maiden Hong Kong triumph. Although she didn’t win, Stephanie Ho can be justifiably proud of her second place finish, which was one of the best performances by a Hong Kong player in recent times. Ho, 15, is proving to be something of a Clearwater Bay specialist, having finished runner-up at the MacGregor Junior Open earlier in the summer, and she can look forward to contending again for this title in the years ahead. I n t he M id A mateu r Cha mpionsh ip, which was played concurrently with the Open Championship, Rani Pomareda continued her rich vein of form with a comfortable victory. Rounds of 80, 75 and 76 gave the Balineseborn Pomareda a twenty-four shot margin over second-placed Felicia Louey. Franziska Hu placed third, two shots further back. “Our great thanks to Doris Wong and all her staff at Linkway for their consistently great support for the Ladies Open over the years,” said Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association Iain Valentine. “ The Cha mpionship cont inues to grow a nd we’re delighted to welcome so many golfers from all around Asia and further afield.” For a full list of all the results visit www.hkga.com OVERALL TOP TEN 1 Thidapa Suwannapura 2 Stephanie Ho 3 Jaruporn Palakawong 4 Huang Hsien-wen 5 Pavarisa Yoktuan 6= Regina de Guzman Chen Suz-han Ainil Johani Abu Bakar 9 Raniasih Pomareda 10 Kuo Tzu-chen 20
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THA HKG THA ROC THA PHL ROC MAS HKG ROC
Clearwater cast (clockwise from above): Jaruporn holes at the eighteenth; Stephanie Ho tees off at the scenic third; Rani Pomareda collects her Mid-Amateur prize; Kitty Ho, Division Two champion; Tiffany Chan having some tree trouble.
215 (73-71-71) 222 (75-75-72) 226 (80-71-75) 227 (77-74-76) 228 (84-72-72) 230 (83-74-73) 230 (83-72-75) 230 (79-74-77) 231 (80-75-76) 232 (84-73-75) WWW.HKGA.COM
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Be Prepared In this the first of a three part series on tournament strategy, Brad outlines the key aspects of the pre-round routine with the help of talented junior Marcus Lam
o ur pre-round routine sets the tone for the whole day. T h e ke y i s to b e prepared with your time schedule and finalize what you need for your round the day prior to the tournament starting. There is nothing worse than being in a rush and stressing out before your round. Arrive at the course an hour to an hour and a half before your tee time so you have plenty of time to check in and practice before heading to the tee. I would much rather have time to hit a few extra putts being early then rush through my practice because I didn’t allow myself enough time.
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
By Brad Schadewitz National Junior Coach
the pace and firmness of the greens. If they are not then pay more attention to where you are trying to land your shots. If there is a bunker area hit a few bunker shots to get a feel for the texture and firmness of the sand (Photo 3).
Always end your pre-round warm up on the putting green. As putting accounts for around 40% of your shots it is vital that you get a good feel for the speed of the putting surfaces. Start with some lag putts from one edge of the green to try to get a good feel for the pace; concentrate on your rhythm and making solid contact. Finish with some straight 3 or 4 footers to create a positive mental image of watching the ball going in. This is much more effective than aimlessly practicing a bunch of 20 footers.
Start at the driving range or locker room with a stretching routine for about 10-minutes (Photo 1). This maybe longer in the winter months when it is cooler. It’s important to get your golf muscles warmed up. Start hitting some shots with your wedges, then move into your middle irons, long irons and finally the woods. I like to see players finish their warm up with a few wedge shots just to slow down their tempo and soften their grip pressure. After you have finished Brad’s Tip your warm up head over to Before heading to the first tee always give the short game area. Start yourself a positive mental boost. Telling yourself with some chips and pitches how much you love the course or that you’re (Photo 2) but also check the really looking forward to the competition green to make sure it is the within your group can really help your mindset. Everyone gets nervous before their round but same as the greens on the you can change the way you approach it. Smile course. If they are the same to yourself and enjoy the ride. you can get a better idea of
Master McBain Seals Hong Kong Open Berth Composed Aussie overcomes stellar Fanling field PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK LEUNG
a t t hew McBain held his nerve to capture the Masters Golf Fashion Hong Kong Open Amateur Championship at Fanling in late October. The 24-year-old Australian, son of former international rugby great Mark McBain, fired a composed final round of 69 to finish the event on a total of 276 (4-under-par), four shots ahead of Taiwan’s Yang Fei-hao in second place. Lam Zhi-qun from Singapore placed third, a further two shots adrift. WWW.HKGA.COM
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As a result of his triumph, McBain, whose brilliant 64 over the New Course in the third round helped pave the way to victory, has earned an invitation to the upcoming UBS Hong Kong Open. “I’m really looking forward to playing,” said McBain, a member of the Queensland state amateur team. “I’ve played in professional events before, but nothing on the scale of the Hong Kong Open. It’s going to be a phenomenal experience.” McBain, a member at Royal Queensland Golf Club, was slow out of the gate, opening the tournament with a 74 on the first day. A solid 69 in the second round put him back on track before his magnificent 6-under-par effort on the penultimate day. “It wasn’t my lowest ever score—I’ve had a couple of 8-under-par rounds before—but it was really important to get back in the hunt,” he said of the round, which included an eagle, five birdies and an unfortunate final hole bogey.
OVERALL TOP TEN 1 Matthew McBain 2 Yang Fei-hao 3 Lam Zhi-qun 4 Antonio Asistio 5 Anthony Fernando 6 Doug Williams 7= Gary King Kao Teng Hung Chun-kang 10 Huang Tao 24
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Australia Chinese Taipei Singapore Philippines Philippines Hong Kong United Kingdom Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei
276 (74-69-64-69) 280 (71-68-69-72) 282 (74-69-70-69) 283 (68-75-72-68) 284 (71-71-74-68) 285 (69-72-73-71) 286 (75-73-67-71) 286 (72-72-70-72) 286 (74-69-70-73) 287 (71-73-75-68)
(clockwise from top): Gary King, the winning Taiwanese team; Filipino legend Tommy Manotoc; Steven Lam; second-placed Yang Fei-hao; Doug Williams was HK’s top finisher; Lam Zhi-qun; the champion and caddie celebrate.
Following his outing at the UBS Hong Kong Open, McBain will head to Bangkok in early 2009 to play in the ultra-competitive Asian Tour Qualifying School. Doug Williams, who placed sixth on 285, was Hong Kong’s highest finisher. Williams, 50, who won the Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship on the same course three years ago, got off to a fantastic start with a 69 in the first round, the highlight of which undoubtedly came at the short par-four eleventh where he holed his wedge shot for eagle. Williams, whose excellent amateur career includes victory at the 1982 Spanish Amateur Open, earned the Mid Amateur Championship title, which was played concurrently with the Open. Other Hong Kong players who recorded notable performances included 15-year-old Steven Lam, who showed a welcome return to form by finishing in fifteenth spot on a score of 290; Roderick Staunton, who placed nineteenth after opening with a solid 70; and Stuart Murray who finished in a tie for twenty-second alongside legendary Filipino amateur Tommy Manotoc. “Matthew showed tremendous poise in winning the championship,” declared Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association Iain Valentine. “It was one of the strongest fields in the tournament’s history, with nearly two thirds of the entrants coming from overseas, so to win by four shots was an outstanding achievement. We wish him every success at the UBS Hong Kong Open and beyond.” For a full list of all the results visit www. hkga.com WWW.HKGA.COM
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Hong Kong Open History
1959 and All That
Elsewhere in the world, Charles de Gaulle was inaugurated as President of France’s Fifth Republic, Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S state and Barbie Dolls hit toy shop shelves for the very first time. But here in Hong Kong, on a fine February afternoon at The Hong Kong Golf Club, significant sporting history was made. Lu Liang-huan, a young professional golfer from Taiwan, won the first edition of the Hong Kong Open, defeating a strong Australian contingent over four rounds. To learn more about that inaugural event HK Golfer caught up with four gentlemen who have made a bit of golfing history themselves. Jock Mackie and Alan Sutcliffe not only played in the 1959 Hong Kong Open, they helped organize and run the event too, while former Hong Kong Golf Association President Willie Woo and Bertie To were among the first local Chinese golfers to represent the Hong Kong Golf Club and the Hong Kong international amateur team respectively. PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK LEUNG
On how the Hong Kong Open came into existence… AS: Eric Cremin [noted Australian pro] was the main instigator. Kim Hall, a member of the club and a very fine player, used to travel down to the Philippine Open where a lot of the Australian pros would play. Back then, the Philippines was the most prominent golfing nation in Asia—and the Philippine Open was a big event. Anyway, in 1958, Cremin said to Hall, ‘why not get some money together and I’ll get the boys to come up [to Hong Kong]. It doesn’t have to be great money but I’ll make sure we turn up.’ So Kim came back and told us about it. ‘We’ve got to do it,’ he said. Kim approached the Secretary of the South China Morning Post, a chap called Peter Plumley who he knew well, and he ended up talking the managing director into sponsoring the event.
No one hit wonder: Lu Liang-huan would capture the 1959 and 1974 HKO Open titles 26
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JM: We started organizing the event about six months before it was due to start. We all sat down together—the golf community back then was so small and we all knew each other so well. It was very much a case of, “I’ll phone someone, you phone someone else,”…we did all these various things and eventually put together a bloody good tournament. One that’s lasted fifty years.
On arrangements during the week… AS: There were only twenty-four players in the Open and it was rather hastily put together. We were very much beginners in the organizational field and it started off very low key. I remember
On what it was like playing with the pros in the early years… JM: Quite honestly, in those days professional gol f had n’t reached t he power a nd professionalism it has now. The fact that pros and amateurs were playing together was really no big deal. We were treated virtually equally. We were all golfers. That was it. We were all there to try and get round in the least number of shots. I had a 70 in the first round and was only one off the pace. Then I had a 77 in the second round. They moved the holes—that was the difference.
for an exhibition match. I think that really set the pace. That sparked the interest in seeing more professional golf in Hong Kong.
On where the tournament will be decided…
On the golf course…
AS: The class of the field today means it’s always going to be tight at the end. It’s a hard finish—the sixteenth isn’t a pushover, seventeen…and of course the eighteenth, which has decided the outcome many times. The eighteenth is very demanding, especially that front right pin position they have on the final day. If you have a couple of strokes to spare you can just aim for the fat of the green and get away with a three putt. But if you need a par to win it’s a huge challenge.
AS: Conditions were pretty rudimentary back then. The courses were pretty basic. We played the Old Course and the New Course in the early days, two rounds over each. They were quite a bit shorter in those days, but remember that 250-260 yard drives were considered very long—only the top pros could do that. The fairways and the greens were made of cabbage grass, which weren’t good surfaces…nothing like today. WW: In the early years it was difficult because the tournament was always played around Ching Ming or Chinese New Year when the weather was unpredictable. But the schedule was determined by the Philippine event and others in Japan. We were always arguing with them to switch the dates. We had to get better weather. BT: The tournament was moved to the end of the year much later when the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation came in to run the Far East circuit. I was Secretary General of the APGC at the time and the move in dates really helped Hong Kong.
the press tent was not a tent but the quiet room in what is now the spike bar at the club. The press asked us for the hole-by-hole scores of each of the players. It hadn’t even occurred to me that they’d need that kind of information. We were very much on a learning curve. JM: I can’t remember what we did for marshals but they were almost certainly from the military, although none of them had experience of crowd control. The crowds were not big—maybe 1,000. AS: Many of the professionals stayed at the members put people up. There weren’t any hotels around at that time. WW: When the American pros came out later, many of them had to borrow money so they could travel and pay for hotels. They would repay their loans with the prize money they made from the tournament.
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History makers (clockwise from bottom): Alan Sutcliffe and Jock Mackie finished that first HKO in fourteenth and seventeenth place respectively; Bertie To and Willie Woo recalling the early years.
W W: The eighteenth last year—K.J. Choi chipping into the bunker, Jimenez three-putting. Even the best players make mistakes there. BT: The pros find it very hard to play on Fanling grass. The rough is a mixture of cow grass and Bermuda, which is why you see so many fluffed chips around the eighteenth green. They’re not used to it. It’s the same with the greens. They’re much different than what they’re used to. They under-read them, over-read them… AS: I’d go along with that. Many read too much into which way the nap is going. In actual fact, at the time of the Open when the grass is cut low there isn’t much grain on them at all. That’s where the Open will be decided.
AS: You didn’t feel inferior [to the pros]. They were playing everyday and we only played on the weekends, but I didn’t stand on the tee and feel really intimidated. We knew they were great players—Kel Nagle, who would go on to win the Centenary Open Championship in 1960 at St Andrews, and of course there was [Peter] Thomson the next year. Bruce Crampton, Brian Huggett, who was the club pro at Fanling at the time, Frank Phillips and the winner Lu Lianghuan—all tremendous players. But we were all just golfers.
On the atmosphere… AS: It was very well supported. At that time there weren’t more than six or seven hundred members of the Club, so people weren’t used to coming out and following golf. But the year before, after playing in the 1958 Canada Cup [now World Cup] in Japan, Christy ‘O Connor and Dai Rees and a couple of others came over WWW.HKGA.COM
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Hong Kong Open History
Hong Kong Open Highlights
Over the years the Hong Kong Open has produced more than its fair share of thrilling finishes and incredible achievements. HK Golfer delved deep into the archives to recall some of the most exciting and poignant moments from the past fifty years.
P lay i n g for a prize purse of £1000 stumped up by the South China Morning Post, the inaugural event might have lacked the razzmatazz of today’s tournaments but it produced a very worthy champion in Taiwanese ace Lu Liang-huan. Lu, who would later go on to become the club pro at Fanling, achieved global recognition at the 1971 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale where he finished second to Lee Trevino. Nicknamed “Mr Lu” by the British press, the Taiwanese was the darling of the Open galleries thanks to his cheery demeanour and bright blue pork pie hat. Lu would go on to repeat his Fanling success with victory at the 1974 Hong Kong Open.
HKO. He would later add the 1983 HKO title when that tournament being rainshortened to only thirty-six holes. Despite only winning two majors—the 1986 and 1993 Open championships—the ‘Great White Shark’ will forever be known as the dominant player of the mid-late 1980s.
P a d r a i g Ha r r i n g ton’s win will always be remembered for his twenty-foot birdie putt on the last hole to defeat South Africa’s Hennie Otto by one stroke. But according to the Irishman, it was a deftly played chip at the sixteenth which set up the victory. “It was probably the best pitch shot I’ve every played. I had a sandy lie and had to carry a bunker with only a few feet of green available. I managed to hit it perfectly and save par. That was the real turning point of the final round.”
One of the ga me ’s t r ue legend s, f ivetime Open champion Peter Thomson bagged his third HKO title of the decade with his 1967 victory at Fanling. Thomson, who is credited with kickstarting the first structured series of professional events in Asia, was 38 when he completed his hat-trick— and with his enviably rhythmical swing would go on to snatch championships well into his fifties. The Australian, whose greatest success came at the Open Championship two years previously when he topped a field containing the likes of Palmer, Nicklaus and Lema, now runs a flourishing course design business.
Tw e n t y - n i n e years ago a young Australian pitched up at The Hong Kong Golf Club and wowed the galleries with his untamed blonde hair, good looks and aggressive golf game. Greg Norman had only turned pro two years previously but played like a seasoned veteran in winning that year’s 30
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Voted as one of the best shots in the history of the European Tour, Jose Maria Olazabal’s raking 5-iron from the trees on the last hole to set up an easy tap-in birdie provided arguably the most exciting climax to a HKO in recent memory. Having trailed Aussie phenom Adam Scott and Norway’s Henrik Bjornstad for most of the final round, Olazabal paved the way for victory courtesy of a brilliant birdie, birdie, birdie finish. Speaking afterwards, the Spaniard said: “You don’t finish with three birdies knowing you have to do it. I pulled it off with a little bit of luck and one well executed shot.”
A merican journeyman pro Craig McCellan stood in the middle of the eighteenth fairway of the final round needing an eagle two to force a playoff with South African stalwart David Frost. Incredibly, McCellan did exactly that by holing his 7-iron from 160-yards away. Unfortunately, the pressure of extra time holes proved all too much as Frost walked away with the title. Nevertheless, McCellan’s shot is still regarded as the finest (or luckiest, depending on how you look at it) in the history of the event.
S outh Africa’s James Kingston a n d S p a i n ’s Miguel Angel Jimenez arrived on the seventeenth green of the final round tied for the lead with both players facing long birdie putts. Kingston, who had never won on the European Tour, proceeded to hole his thirty footer to jump into the lead by himself. It was short lived however, as Jimenez, incredibly, also managed to hole his own twenty-five foot putt to bring it back to square it up again with only the last to play. Jimenez’s putt proved to be crucial: struggling to keep his emotions in check, the South African hooked his drive into trouble and the man from Malaga clung on to secure his first victory at the HKO. WWW.HKGA.COM
Art The of Design This issue we sit down with JMP’s Mark Hollinger, one of the most prolific golf course architects working in China today. Here he discusses the state of the industry, his own influences and the curse of the dreaded cart path HKG: JMP is one of the major players in golf course design in China. How did you get involved in the market and how many courses do you have open now? MH: In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s we were doing a lot of work in Japan. We actually completed around thirty-five courses there. But it soon became obvious to us that the economic bubble was going to burst and so we decided to branch out and look for projects in Southeast Asia—Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China was developing and it was on the back of our other work in the region that we became involved on the mainland. 1994 was my first project – Long Island [in Dongguan]. Then I did Lakewood [Zhuhai] and then Agile [Zhongshan]. I now have fourteen golf course projects completed in China and a number of new ones coming up. HKG: It’s obvious over the past few years that given that course construction in the States has stagnated, more and more western designers are jumping on the China bandwagon. Does this worry you at all? MH: While it’s true that there’s more and more competition, I’m not unduly worried at all. What a lot of people don’t realize at first is that it’s a completely new mind set working overseas. You have to have the commitment to work in China, which is hard for a lot of American firms especially. You have to spend time here. I work 100-plus days a year on the mainland, which you have to in order to give your clients value. HKG: “It’s a good test for the better player, but higher handicappers will enjoy themselves too.” This has to be the biggest cliché in course design. Who are you actually designing courses for? MH: [Laughs]. Well, I try to make my courses playable and visually stunning, but I also try and build in the option that the course can be set up for tournament play. This year, two of my courses [Luxe Hills in Chengdu and Longxi Hot Spring 32
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in Beijing] hosted Omega China Tour events— and the results were surprising. They really chewed up Luxe Hills—the winning score was 18-underpar—but at Longxi only one player finished in red figures. I thought it would work the other way around. But the fact is you can’t just design for the pro. It’s an ego boost when you get good feedback from the pros, like those two courses did, but you really have to look at it from the point of view of the average golfer. HKG: How much influence does the owner of the course have in your design? And more to the point, how important is it to have a knowledgeable owner? MH: Very. Listening to the owner can be useful, but only if he understands the game. If he does, then it’s great to obtain his feedback. If he does not understand the business of golf, then he is not a great help. In that situation, if the owner doesn’t have any experience in golf course construction, it becomes my job to help him achieve financial success, which is the whole point. For instance, down at Sun Valley [on Hainan Island], I advised the owner that we had to keep the fairways wide and to build spacious greens, and try and keep the course playbable and not too severe for the average player. It’s a resort area, so it had to be an enjoyable golf course with a tropical environment which was WWW.HKGA.COM
special. It had to be a place where a guy and his wife, who are on vacation, can come and play and enjoy. It’s a holiday course. It’s not a place that has a really good standard of players among its membership. You have to design for the market in which you are working. Since it’s opening, Sun Valley has received extremely good feedback because of its playability and because of its setting, and I am very proud of this. There are a number of owners now in China that have become real students of the game, which helps my job a great deal. HKG: What distinguishes a Hollinger design? MH: Gosh. [Laughs]. The landscaping element in a big factor, but I go through phases. The style of bunkering changes depending on the phase I’m in. I want all of my courses to have a different look. I don’t want my courses to be categorized in a certain way—I don’t want people to think that all Hollinger courses will play and look the same. In fact, I’ll change the shapers and construction companies from project to project to help achieve that. I always want a different look. HKG: Who are your mentors and influences in golf course design? MH: I love Alister MacKenzie and Tillinghast courses. I love their unique bunkering styles— their courses have stood the test of time. I like Tom Fazio too. Nicklaus and Rees Jones have done some very good work as well. Some of Pete Dye’s work is genius. It’s more about picking specific elements of designs from other great architects. HKG: What’s your favourite course? You can pick one of your own, if you like. MH: Designers would never pick their own courses. When we play our courses we only ever see a thousands things that we’d want to be different. It’s very rare for a designer to be 100% satisfied. My favourite course is probably Cypress Point [an Alister MacKenzie design in California]. It’s an enchanting place and not far from where I live. I could play it every day for the rest of my life. Royal Dornoch in northern Scotland, where Donald Ross worked as a greenkeeper, is another of my favourites. It’s an Old Tom Morris design. There’s nothing fancy about it, just great design. I’m from the South of the United States and I’ve played a lot of Ross courses. You can see the influence of Dornoch at a lot of his places. HKG: A lot of the newer courses grabbing the headlines tend to be throwbacks; courses like Bandon Dunes [in Oregon] that are minimalist WWW.HKGA.COM
in nature, that look much older than they actually are. Would those kind of courses work in China? MH: Elements could work, but generally they won’t translate well in China. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it is unlikely those kind of courses would work well in the China market. The same applies to Americans going over to play golf in Ireland and Scotland. A lot of them hate links golf. Those kind of minimalist courses come around because the sites are so special. It’s all determined by the site. I have a new course that we’re doing down in Hainan that is right by the coast. It’s a great site and the course will have links-like characteristics, but it won’t be a true links. But generally nowadays, we only get extreme sites to work with. The art is to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. at Zhuhai International Circuit, July 2008 O’Young HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
HKG: What makes a perfect site? MH: Any time you have a lot of natural elements to work with—rocks, ocean, lakes, rolling land, vegetation, mountains in the distance…if you have four of five of those elements you can create dramatic holes that don’t cost the owner an arm and a leg. They’re what we call “creamer” or “perfect” sites. Otherwise you have to shift a great deal of dirt to manufacture those elements, which costs a great deal of money. China, because of its size and diverse landscape and topography, still has some great sites to offer golf designers. HKG: What’s your take on playerdesigners? MH: Some of these guys are bringing something to the table—at least those who take it seriously. Nicklaus is one. 95% are just lending their name to a course and getting big “design” fees to do so—it’s a marketing deal. It never ceases to amaze me that the golfing public is impressed solely by a “name”. That’s frivolous. The key, no matter whose name is on it, is if people want to come back and play it. It really doesn’t matter who designed it.
Wild West: Hollinger’s Luxe Hills in Chengdu has been voted one of China’s best. 34
HKG: But haven’t these “name” designers, with their hefty design fees, helped raise fees across the board for all designers? MH: It works both ways. Fees might have increased somewhat, but if a player-designer is getting paid a lot of money and all he does is show up to the grand opening of the course without having visited the course before, then the client isn’t getting much value. That damages the business we’re in. And this is most definitely a business, no matter which way you look at it.
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HKG: Do you have to be a good golfer to be a good designer? MH: Not necessarily, although a def in ite appreciat ion a nd understanding of the game is required—knowledge of its history, it’s evolution, a keen understanding of why it ’s so important to people—is very important. Jack Nicklaus, when he started, was seeing design from a different perspective. He wasn’t thinking about the ten handicapper or the recreational golfer. Likewise, I had to learn more about what the pros are thinking—the lines they take off the tee, for instance. The biggest thing nowadays is that you have to understand that golf is a competitive business. Overlooking that golf is a business is missing the point entirely. Even if the owner of a development has a course just so he can sell the real estate that surrounds it, the golf course has to be a business on itself and earn revenue in the long run, long after all the properties are sold off. Understanding this is an essential key to being successful as a golf designer in China today. HKG: You told me a few years ago that designing a course is easy; it’s the construction part that’s the difficult bit. Does this still ring true and is this more of a factor in China? MH: Yes, it’s still very much the case here. The golf contracting industry in China is pitiful. We’re not building courses any better than ten years ago. The reason is that the contractor’s desire for quality is not there. It’s all about the money and it’s even more cut-throat than before. Getting a lot of contracting deals doesn’t make you any better. Contractors don’t have the mentality that if you build two courses to the very best of your ability that will work well for you in the long term. They just want to get as many deals secured as soon as possible, regardless of the quality of work they put in to the projects. It’s widespread across the industry and we have to do something about it. In the US, which isn’t always perfect, I should add, but you can design a course and they’ll be four of five reputable companies bidding to construct it. You know that they will ensure the quality is there. Here in China, it’s just about trying to make as much profit as possible. There has to be quality consciousness. If all us of designers banded together and refused to work with these kinds of companies then hopefully after a time it wouldn’t happen any more. This economic slowdown we’re in could actually help. The cream will rise to the top and the rest will flounder. WWW.HKGA.COM
HKG: Every new course measures at least 7,400 yards. Why are courses so long? MH: 7,600 yards, you mean! It’s ridiculous. The ball is the biggest thing. We have to reevaluate it. Length is still something you need in design—but it’s a waste of land and I hate to see it. I really hope the monitoring and specifications governing the golf ball changes. Augusta National and the Masters Championship could have done something about it—and they nearly did. They could have said, “We’ll only accept one type of ball for our tournament.” They’re not governed by the rules of the PGA Tour; they could have done what they liked. They could have helped turn the dynamics of the golf ball back. But the biggest issue for me is safety, which explains why courses today require 20-25% more land. A 15-handicapper can swing as fast as Tiger Woods—the launch speed of a golf ball today is dangerous and we need more room as a result. Golf designers’ liability insurance in the States is huge. If someone gets hit we don’t want to get sued, which is a very real issue in the States. Over here, where the chance of being sued is probably much less, I just don’t want people to get hurt.
HKG: Now, golf cart tracks, which is a subject I feel pretty strongly about. If you can’t hide them, can’t they be painted green or something? A necessary evil they might be, but they really spoil the visual appeal of courses. MH: It’s the worst thing the Americans ever did for golf—introducing golf carts. The system they have in Japan is great. You know the electric caddie carts which move down a hidden rail by the side of the fairway? Unfortunately, they’re really expensive. Some courses need carts, because of their topography, but you can’t appreciate a golf course if you ride a cart. It’s a menace to the system. You have to walk. We, as designers, try and figure out how to hide them. I’d love to see a couple of courses in China try and not use them. Maybe allow the older guys to use them, but let everyone else walk; the caddies can carry the bags. Golf is, after all, a great walk unspoiled. Hollinger is a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Log onto www.jmpgolf.com for more information.
‘Tis the Season
l t hou g h it m ig ht seem obvious, there’s a reason why all the major amateur and professional events in Hong Kong are played during the October to December period. Yes, the weather is typically nice— the chance of a monumental thunderstorm ruining that monthly medal is, thankfully, slim—but there’s a whole lot more to it than that—at least from a course superintendent’s point of view. This is the only time during the year when we can truly manipulate the playing conditions of the courses that you enjoy. As I touched upon in the last issue, Hong Kong’s tropical climate does absolutely no favours to those of us in the golf course maintenance business. The constant threat of typhoons, heavy rain, lack of sunlight, high humidity— all of these, without a shadow of doubt, impact heavily upon our ability to prepare high quality playing surfaces. It is really only now that we turf
grass specialists can control the growth of the grass and the condition the golf course is presented. Gone are the days of summer when the weather is at its most unpredictable. The meteorological volatility we encounter then causes a lot of problems; the grass quite literally “stresses out”. The key issue for us is the abundance of sunshine that we routinely get from October to December. Grass growth is steadier during this time and as a result we can plan and program our maintenance practices far more effectively. For t hose of you t ravel l i ng throughout the mainland, the Bent grass surfaces up in Beijing, which generally struggle over the summer months, are really coming into their element now, while many of the courses in and around Shanghai will be overseeding their Bermuda roughs and fairways
with cooler season grasses. Shanghai is located in what we call a transition zone, meaning that both warm and cool season grasses can be used. In this case, Bermuda and similar grasses are used for fairways and roughs and Bent is used for greens. Superintendents need to overseed because when soil temperatures reach 18 degrees Celsius or below, the warm season grass starts to go dormant and therefore loses its colour. Overseeding warm season grass with a cool season grass like Rye improves the aesthetics of a course considerably. For us in Hong Kong we’ve got until the end of December before our own grasses start go into dor ma nc y a nd become weaker. Although course conditions then are usually acceptable, they really don’t compare with what we have right now. My advice: enjoy it while you can.—Rick Hamilton Rick Hamilton is managing director of Asia Turf Solutions, a turf management consultancy company based in Hong Kong.
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Fortis International Challenge
Hong Kong’s goal was clear: finish in the top three and earn a place at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup. HK Golfer travelled to Kuala Lumpur to cover their progress
Worldly ambitions: Hong Kong’s Freeman and Fung on the tee (left); Eduardo Molinari, the former U.S. Open champion, representing Italy.
lthough there’s no prize money at stake, the Fortis International Challenge has serious cachet. Finish in the top three and you earn a berth at the US$5.5 million Omega Mission Hills World Cup where even the last-placed team picks up a cheque for US$50,000. And while all the teams are keen to stress the importance of representing their countries, you can be sure that thoughts of a guaranteed big money pay day haven’t passed any of them by. Hong Kong’s chances of qualifying, on the face of things, look reasonable. Represented by David Freeman and Derek Fung, the pair makes an interesting combination. Fung has the experience, having played at the World Cup in 1996 and 2003, while Freeman was a full-time instructor before earning his Asian Tour card last year. Their games are also a contrast of styles. Freeman is up there with the longest hitters on Tour, while Fung, now 39, is more of a plotter. Regardless, Fung is in upbeat mood. “I’ve been around, I know what it’s all about,” he says. “David hits it as far as Tiger Woods and I’m hitting it pretty good too. I think different styles work well in team events.” Outside of the World Cup itself, the Fortis International Challenge has to be one of the most cosmopolitan tournaments around. Of the seventeen teams here this week, twelve are from Asia, four are from Africa and Europe is represented by the Molinari brothers of Italy. The opinion emanating from the media centre is that none of the African teams stand a chance and that Italy, Korea and hosts Malaysia look the most likely candidates to progress. It’s hard to argue with that prediction, although given the vagaries of the foursomes (alternate shot) format, which the teams will play in the second and final rounds, anything can happen. The stars of the event are undoubtedly Francesco and Eduardo Molinari. Francesco, who won the 2007 Italian Open, has just come off a second place at the Mercedes Benz Championship, one of the biggest events on the European Tour, while Eduardo has started to show the same kind of form that won him the prestigious US Amateur title in 2005. They’re undoubtedly classy players and genuinely nice guys, but perhaps not the kind of players journalists go to when in need of an insightful quote. “We’re going to go out and try to do our best,” Francesco tells HK Golfer. Yawn. 38
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the duo’s woeful 73 puts them in a tie for last place with Uganda. The Malaysian press can’t understand it, and nor can anyone else for that matter. Very odd.
Day Two Foursomes
Day One Fourballs
Heaven and hell (clockwise from top): the Molinari brothers celebrate; the Nigerians were the surprise package of the tournament; Korea showed their class. 40
Hong Kong ran into a bit of trouble before a ball had even been hit. Driving himself and Freeman to the picturesque Kota Permai Golf Club, the venue for the week, Fung took a wrong turn off the highway and promptly got lost. “We weren’t sure where we were so we had to make a few calls,” said Freeman. “Thank God for cell phones,” added Fung. Not that that little hiccup affected their performance in the first round of fourballs. Cruising along at four-under-par for the day, the duo reached the eighteenth, a long parfive, where Freeman hammered a brilliant 5-wood from 258 yards to within seven feet of the pin to set up an eagle. “Pretty happy with that,” grinned Freeman afterwards. “We let ourselves down a few times during the round, so it was important to finish the way we did.” Undoubtedly the shot of the day, it helped the duo into a share of second place with Singapore on 6-under. The Koreans are looking ominously good though. Their 63 puts them three shots clear at the top of the leaderboard. The biggest shock of the day was the erratic performance of the Malaysian pair of Iain Steel and Danny Chia. Playing on home turf,
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Not a good day. After the heroics of yesterday, Hong Kong’s chances of qualification took a nosedive after an ugly 78 in the foursomes. Only Ghana, with a 79, scored worse. But the most gutwrenching part is that they didn’t actually play too badly. “It was crazy,” said a clearly frustrated Freeman. “We probably only hit three bad shots all day, but we couldn’t hole a putt. The score really didn’t reflect the way we played.” Indeed. But as Peter Allis is fond of saying, that’s foursomes golf for you. Back to level par for the tournament, Hong Kong now find them lying in tenth spot, six-strokes shy of Nigeria who occupy the allimportant third spot. Nigeria is proving to be the surprise package of the tournament, and in Oyebanji Gboyega and Odoh Andrew Oche they have two of the nicest and most enthusiastic pro golfers around. And what’s more, they clearly have game— Odoh, taller and skinnier than the stocky Oyebanji, has won eighteen of the last thirtytwo events on the Nigerian Tour. I have to admit ignorance to the very existence of the Nigerian Tour, but that’s some record nonetheless. “It will go a long way if we make it through,” says Odoh sincerely. “It will create so much awareness back home and people will say I want to be like these guys. It's a good feeling to raise the flag for the country and I'm happy to be a part of this. But we still have two days to go.” Korea still lead the way after a 72, but their lead has been cut to two. The Philippines fire a solid 70 to lie in second and the Molinari brothers are lurking menacingly in a share of fourth, just two-shots further back. It’s shaping up to be a cracking weekend.
At the top of the leaderboard, the Philippines have taken a one-shot lead over Korea after a stellar 64. Nigeria are three shots further back and looking vulnerable: Oyebanji and Odo have played well again but the Molinari’s, who everyone expects to shine in the final round foursomes, are snapping at their heels and are just one stroke adrift. Not that the Nigerian boys appear overly concerned. “It’s still possible to catch the leaders,” says Odo with commendable optimism. You’ve got to love their attitude. Whatever happens tomorrow—and without trying to sound too corny about this—they’ve really done their country proud.
Final Day Foursomes Freeman and Fung know what they have to do, and after four holes they’ve put themselves right back in contention after carding two early birdies. But the putts stop dropping and their round stagnates following a string of pars. After failing to birdie the seventh, a par-five that the rest of the field is murdering, the Mission Hills dream starts to fade. Bogies at the tenth and thirteenth deepen the gloom, but they bounce back in great fashion with a brace of birdies at fourteen and fifteen. But it’s really all too late. They’ve made a great
effort and come up just short. That second round 78 proved to be the killer, as Freeman knows all too well. “We played well and only let ourselves down on one day,” he says. “But overall, we’re going to take a lot of positives out of the week.” And so they should. Freeman, in particular, was very impressive. Given his ball-striking abilities it’s staggering that he’s not more a factor on the Asian Tour. “In strokeplay tournaments I’m probably not aggressive enough,” he concedes. “In a team event, where you have a partner to back you up, you can really go after your shots and attack the course. I’m going to try and take that attitude out on Tour.”
Day Three Fourballs What a maddening game this is. Hong Kong were flawless today, a fantastic 64 lifting them up into sixth place and only three shots behind the Nigerians who still cling to third. “We ham-andegged it very well today,” says Freeman whose birdie-birdie finish could yet prove crucial. “We’ll need a 67 tomorrow to have any chance…we need to make the putts. We’ve got nothing to lose, so we’re going to go out and be really aggressive.” He’s right, of course, and the good news is that Fung, after some indifferent golf over the first two days, has finally found some form. But is it too late? WWW.HKGA.COM
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OVERALL TOP TEN 1 Korea* 268 2 Philippines* 271 3 Italy* 274 4 Nigeria 276 5= Singapore 277 Malaysia 277 7= HONG KONG 278 Pakistan 278 9 Myanmar 280 10 Uganda 282 11 Sri Lanka 284 12 Indonesia 285 13 Kenya 288 14 Swaziland 290 15 Bangladesh 293 16 Ghana 294 17 Brunei 301 18 Nepal 302
By the start of the back-nine it’s clear that Korea and the Philippines are going to earn the first two qualifying berths. Racing to the turn in a mere 33 strokes, the Korean duo of Bae Sangmoon and Kim Hyung-tae has the tournament won, while Angelo Que and Mars Pucay have also done enough thanks to their solid play. But it’s the battle for that final spot that has everyone transfixed. Italy, as expected, shows their class under pressure by firing a fine 68 to finish at 14-under. Nigeria isn’t out of it yet however. Conventional wisdom dictates that Oyebanji and Odo, upon realizing their situation, should fold like a couple of cheap Mongkok suits. But they’ve hung on gamely and by the time they reach the final hole they’re only one shot back. A birdie at the par-five will force a playoff with the
Top three teams qualify for the Omega Mission Hills Word Cup
Fortis frolic (clockwise from top): the Philippines cruised into the World Cup; Uganda’ s Emos Korblah on the dance floor; quite, please; Freeman does the honours.
Molinari brothers. An eagle will seal their place at Mission Hills. Odo, like he’s done all week, stripes it a right down the middle. It’s a great drive and the Molinaris’ know it. Francesco and Eduardo look physically sick. Despite their modesty at the start of the week, they came here fully expecting to book their trip to China. Now they don’t seem so sure. But then disaster. Oyebanji, with 240 yards to the centre of the green and 3-wood in hand, tops it. He literally tops it 80 yards in front of him. The ball doesn’t get above ankle height. And worse, it’s finished in an awkward lie beside a fairway bunker. The galleries are stunned, Oyebanji is stunned; the Molinaris’ are stunned. It’s probably his worst shot the poor guy has hit in his life, and it’s come at the most important moment of his career. It’s nothing short of tragic. Odo can do no more than to hack it up towards the green and when a shell-shocked Oyebanji fails to hole his chip, it’s all over.
China’s New School
Approach The recent success in the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship of pupils from one of China’s first golf boarding schools shows how the partnership between the banking giant and the China Golf Association is driving the development of youth golf in China BY TIM MAITLAND
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ike all the larger cities in China, Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, which in turn is the home of the Shaolin Temple and the birthplace of Kung Fu, has a brand spanking new airport and a silky smooth highway. Like all the big Mainland metropolises, new structures—a dramatic aluminium spiral here, a mirrored tower there—seem to be racing each other towards the clouds. At first glance this city—classified as a second tier or prefecture-level city, and comprising 3.5 million people in its urban area, which ranks it just outside China’s top 10—is a facsimile of the rapid development along the east coast. But here, a region steeped w it h t he h istor y of t he a ncient Sha ng Dy nast y, roughly in the middle of a triangle between Beijing, Shanghai and the Terracotta A rmy cit y of X i’a n, t he growth is different. Even the big-city visitors from the coast, where foreign involvement and investment is constantly evident, remark that Zhengzhou is “very Chinese”. It’s hard to put a finger Shi Yuting on why. It is tiny things, HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Golf camp: (clockwise from top): Junior training at Huangshan; LV Zheng, one of China’s junior stars. 44
like the highway that has an “overtaking lane” and a “driying lane” [sic]. It’s the fact that here, even more than in the east, the road markings represent merely a basis for negotiation rather than a definition of the right of way. It’s the sweet corn drying on every available roof space and even on the roads as preparation for the livestock’s winter feed. It’s the daily test of resolve and persistence that your average caffeine-addicted journalist has to undergo before abandoning the seemingly hopeless quest for his daily fix. All this serves as a reminder that, while China grows exponentially, it grows in a myriad of different ways. Out at the Henan Synear Golf Club, in a tourist area close to the Yellow River, Chinese golf is growing too, and one only needs to look briefly at the different backgrounds of some of the winners of the Zhengzhou Leg of the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship to see how differently the future generations of Chinese professionals are developing. China’s first two generations—led by Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong respectively— were, generally, caddies and other employees at the golf courses that sprang up after Chung Shan Hot Spring became the first modern course in China in 1984. While, broadly speaking, the pioneers depended on the benevolence of their club’s owner, the next generation, led by Hu Mu— the cream of whom are just starting golf scholarships in the United States—as the sons and daughters of the first of China’s newly-rich golf-playing entrepreneurs, were able to focus on golf because of their family’s wealth. Hong Wei, the winner of the senior boys’ division, typifies the new source of talent for China. The 17-year-old from Shanghai only started playing golf three years ago, but eighteen months later put his studies on hold to work
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full time on his golf game. With the support of his businessman father he spends his days at a driving range near his home or playing at the Shanghai Tianma Golf & Country Club. “Although I’ve only played a short time compared to the other players I believe with hard work and hard practice I can catch up with the others. That’s what my father always tells me. I’m practicing seven to eight hours a day. I’ve stopped school for a while so I can focus on golf,” he explains. But look beyond Hong’s victory and one can start to see signs of how China might produce its own home-grown champions in the future, and in turn how the HSBC China Junior Golf Program, which encompasses the elite-level HSBC National Junior Golf Championship but also includes a number of grassroots development initiatives, is helping the China Golf Association accelerate the growth of the game. That growth is not just the rate of youth development itself, but also in the maturing process of the golf industry in China. Three of the tournament’s winners—Lv Zheng, Zhang Yucong and Shi Yuting— are among the 12 pupils at the school based at the Huangshan Pine Golf & Country Club in Anhui province, which is believed to be one of only three full-time golf boarding schools (along with ones in Nanshan in Shandong and at Mission Hills in Guangdong) in China. “We’re following the format of the Australian golf schools. The children do their academic every morning and then practice their golf in the afternoon,” explains Kuo Jia-kuei, the teaching professional from Taiwan who coaches the Huangshan pupils. Their success is, according to HSBC’s Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan, indicative of how the bank’s partnership with the CGA is promoting golf’s development in China. “The media coverage the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship is generating in China has heightened awareness of youth development within the golf industry. You can bet your bottom dollar that Huangshan’s success and the success of any other similar schools will not go unnoticed among the other golf course owners and you can guarantee that many of them are turning their attention to training their own junior players too,” Morgan says. “The primary objective of the HSBC Youth Golf Program was to create a sustainable framework around which the CGA can evolve and develop the sport. But we knew creating a legitimate mini-tour for junior golf would have the secondary effect of increasing the enthusiasm for junior development within the golf industry. ” In turn, Kuo Jia-kuei says Huangshan’s production line—they’ve already provided Liu WWW.HKGA.COM
Yu-xiang to the China national team—would grind to a halt without the tournament structure of the National Junior Championship. “The tournaments are like professional events. They’re very good,” Kuo says. “It teaches the children the ‘E.S.P.’ (extra sensory perception) of golf. It’s very important. The atmosphere and the environment of tournament play, the experience is very important. The events are very good for the players because they can see step by step how they are improving. They become more focused on their goals in training and understand how their development has to be step by step too. The environment is also very good for the children because it makes them feel like real players. When they return after the tournaments they are more enthusiastic about their training.” Kuo’s enthusiasm is shared by his charges. 10-year-old Shi Yuting, who has dominated her age group in the girls’ competition winning five of the six legs ahead of November’s final, beams with enthusiasm as she charmingly discusses what she likes about the junior championship tournaments. “They’re really great. We go to courses that are very challenging. They give us a chance to play against each other, against people the same age,” she says. Unlike some of the other kids her age who profess to enjoy the fun games that have been introduced after the first of the two nine-hole rounds the younger players compete over, Shi’s focus is noticeably more on the tournaments, and she has little doubt why she’s outperforming her rivals. “I practice every day. Every morning I got to school and then I practice in the afternoon. And I play on the course twice a week,” she explains. Shi lives with her mother at the Huangshan school, while her younger sister and father reside an hour’s flight away in Shanghai. There’s a sacrifice involved for any child at that age to live away from her family, which she explains in some ways when discussing her status as one of China’s most promising young golfers. “Sometimes I will remind myself that I’m the best in China to cheer myself up,” she admits, modestly. “There are so many other girls and it can feel like there is pressure, so I sometimes think about that to make myself happy.” But the approach of Kuo, seems to echo the child-friendly approach of the HSBC National Junior Championship, as Lv Zheng, the 15-year-old winner of the senior girls’ group at Zhengzhou, explains. “I like Mr. Guo very much.” says Lv, resplendent in Scotty Dog earrings and a fringe nodding towards Emo, using the Mandarin pronunciation of her coach’s name. “Mr. Guo WWW.HKGA.COM
is very kind. He’s patient and he’s taught me a lot of useful knowledge. He will scold me for not practicing properly or for not hitting my fairway woods far enough, but he presents his knowledge in a very simple and easily understandable way. He also has a lot of personal charm, so everyone enjoys working with him,” states Lv, who was discovered by China Tour professional Cui Xiao-long, the day she first swung a golf club in Beijing two years ago. Lv’s testimonial in turn points towards a more modernistic approach. In Asia in general, education to this day can still tend towards rote learning and discipline, but things are changing. And as they are with everything in China, and in particular in golf, they’re changing fast.
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The Heart of
Great golf awaits in Yunnan province STORY BY ALEX JENKINS
hink of Pebble Beach and one immediately conjures up images of Pacific rollers crashing onto the rocky cliffs of the Monterey Peninsula. Take a trip over to Gleneagles and memories of the wild and dramatic scenery of the Perthshire countryside will last a lifetime. Play a round at the Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre, host of the annual European Masters, and be blown away by sweeping vistas of the Swiss Alps. Without a shadow of a doubt, the most memorable courses are influenced by their geographical surroundings above anything else. Which is why, in my eyes at least, Yunnan province is China’s premier golfing destination. While other places on the mainland might boast a superior number of courses or brag about easy access to the country’s financial and commercial hubs, the clubs of Yunnan, and those located close to the charming culture-rich cities of Kunming and Lijiang in particular, remain refreshingly quiet on the marketing spiel front. Like most great courses there’s a reason for this: they already know they’re among the best that their country has to offer; there’s really no reason to make a song a dance about it. Aside from its stunning mountain landscapes, Yunnan’s appeal, especially to golfers, is largely credited to its moderate climate. Kunming, the provincial capital, or the “City of Eternal Spring”, as it is commonly known, offers near perfect golfing weather year-round. The fact that all the courses here are all decked out in silky-smooth Bent grass just adds to the appeal. But Yunnan has other advantages. The region is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country, which means, like in most places were cultures collide, both fantastic cuisine and a striking-looking population. The air is the cleanest in China; the vegetation is the most diverse. This is, simply put, travel at his most memorable.
The Nicklaus-designed Mountain Course at Spring City 46
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long in the memory. If, like Faldo, you love to work on your game post-round, head to Lakeview’s state-of-the-art driving range and short game area. It’s among the best practice facilities in the country. Yardage: 7,222. Par: 72. Architect: Nick Faldo (2005). Access: 30mins from airport. Contact: www.lakeview.cn Sunshine Golf Club HHHH A nother exquisitely manicured track, Sunshine is a feast for the eyes. Situated on naturally rugged land, the course features d ra mat ic sh if t s i n a lt it ude a nd a f ford s breathtaking views of the surrounding pineclad countryside. It’s fun too, with a number of short par-fours and par-fives on the frontnine offering weekend golfers legitimate birdies opportunities. Although the course tightens considerably over the final stretch (unleashing driver over these holes is a ploy only the brave should consider), Sunshine’s place among the top echelons of China’s courses is secure. Those who take pleasure in palatial clubhouses can’t fail to be impressed by the club’s nineteenth— it’s the largest and most luxuriously-decorated in the province. Yardage: 7,217. Par: 72. Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. (2004). Access: 30mins from airport. Contact: www.sunshinegolfclub.com
WHERE TO PLAY
Cool climes (clockwise from above): The stunning Jade Dragon Snow Mountain course in Lijiang; the risk-reward ninth at the Lake Course, Spring City; Faldo’s exceptional greens complexes at Lakeview. 48
KUNMING Spring City Resort HHHHH If you only have time for one day’s golfing in Kunming make sure it’s at Spring City. Of the two immaculately conditioned courses at this exceptionally well-run resort, we rate Nicklaus's Mountain layout slightly ahead of Trent Jones's Lake. But really, they’re both first-class. The Mountain Course rises gently through towering glades and uses its natural terrain to its fullest. Fairly generous fairways and large greens make this perfectly playable for the recreational golfer, although a ravine-fronted green at the closing hole ensures an exacting finish to what is arguably the finest course of its type in China. Despite being shorter than the Mountain, the slightly newer Lake course is probably a less forgiving if more spectacular test. Relatively narrow and undulating landing areas place the onus on accuracy, while dramatic greenside bunkering and strong elevation changes add
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WHERE TO PLAY LIJIANG Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club HHHHH Occupying one of golf’s most dramatic sites, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club, named after the mystical peak that rises majestically above it, has to be seen to be believed. Routed across hills at an elevation of some 10,000 feet (oxygen bottles are provided in the golf carts for those prone to altitude sickness), the course is one of the highest in the world—and also one of the longest. From the members’ blue tee, the course measures an awesome 7,700-plus yards— but here’s the thing: in Lijiang’s crisp, thin air you too can drive the ball like Tiger. Twentypercent yardage increases with the driver (tee it up high!) are standard, meaning length is less of a factor than you might think. The course really comes to life on the back-nine with a series of demanding dogleg holes flanked on all sides by mountain pines. As an experience, Jade Dragon ranks up there with the very best. Ancient City Golf Club, a pleasing Joe Obringer-designed layout fifteen-minutes from the centre of Lijiang, is the city’s only other course and worth a visit if time permits. Yardage: 8,548. Par: 72. Architect: Nelson & Haworth, (2001). Access: 20mins from Lijiang Old Town Contact: www.ljxsgolf.com (Chinese only).
a definite wow factor. The incredibly scenic 486-yard par-five ninth, which runs along the banks of Yang Zong Hai Lake, might look like a birdie hole on paper, but like many of the holes here, pars are well-earned. Yardage: 7,453 (Mountain); 7,204 (Lake). Par: 72. Architects : Jack Nicklaus (Mountain), 1996 ; Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Lake), 1998. Access: 40mins from airport Contact: www.springcityresort.com Lakeview Golf Club HHHH The jewel in the crown of Nick Faldo’s Chinese design portfolio, Lakeview, only 20-minutes from the centre of Kunming, is a brilliant strategic challenge set in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Mountain. Attentiongrabbing bunkering—there’s over eighty of the glaring white sand pits on the course—is the most obvious feature on this lengthy track, but conquering the subtleties of Faldo’s green complexes is where a good golfers will make their score. Stellar conditioning and the exciting use of water combine to ensure this course live WWW.HKGA.COM
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twenties; Lijiang, at 10,000 feet above sea level, is a few degrees cooler. Avoid golfing in Lijiang in the late summer when Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is inevitably shrouded in mist and the chance of a snow flurry is high.
WHERE TO STAY
Heavenly Lijiang: in the Old Town (above); The Banyan Tree, one of China’s most unique stays.
Dragonair operates nine direct flights per week from Hong Kong to Kunming (2hrs 30mins). There are no direct flights to Lijiang from Hong Kong at present; connect through Kunming with China Eastern Airlines (40mins). Alternatively, you can fly direct to both cities direct from Shenzhen International Airport.
WHEN TO GO
HOW TO BOOK
Golf007 (www.golf007; (852) 2180 2963), Hong Kong’s biggest specialist golf travel agency, offers a variety of value packages to both Kunming and Lijiang. Prices start from $4,730 for 3 day / 2 night package at Spring City Resort. Call for tailor-made itineraries.
Courtesy of Banyan Tree
Although golf is certainly playable year-round in Kunming, May through July is the ultimate time when temperatures averages in the mid-
While staying in one of Spring City’s wellappointed villas makes perfect sense for those on a pure golfing package, seeking accommodations in downtown Kunming allows visitors to enjoy more of what the city has to offer. The Grand Park Hotel (www.parkhotelgroup.com), overlooking Green Lake in the heart of Kunming, is among the better 4-star choices here. Lijiang’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination has resulted in a number of new hotel openings, although it’s hard to look beyond the stunning Banyan Tree Lijiang (www. banyantree.com). With its Naxi-inspired architecture, sublime spa and jaw-dropping views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, this is a destination in itself. Expensive, but well worth the splurge.
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World Cup Preview
All Eyes on
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Late November sees the return of the highly anticipated Omega Mission Hills World Cup World Class (clockwise from right): the bunker-strewn Olazabal Course; a select gathering; Monty and Warren win it for Scotland in 2007.
h en the best golfers in the world gather to compete for t he pride of their nations, the world watches. In the same way that has made the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup matches such compulsive viewing, the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, which will be played 27-30 November over the Olazabal Course at the luxury resort, brings something different to golf—the spectacle of team play. With the game’s hierarchy happy to fill their playing calendars to the brim with 72-hole individual strokeplay tournaments, the format of the World Cup—two-man teams playing alternate rounds of fourballs and foursomes—is unquestionably refreshing. Placing your faith and trust in another’s capabilities isn’t something that comes easy to professional golfers, which makes this event one of the most unpredictable—and therefore exciting— of the year. That was certainly the case twelve months ago when the Scottish pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren outlasted the American duo of Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum in a gripping sudden death playoff. Having finished on a brilliant 25-under-par total for their four rounds—which was highlighted by an exceptional final round 66 in the much more difficult foursomes format—the Scots looked like they had the title in the bag. But the Americans roared back with two gutsy birdies on the final two holes to force extra time. It was pulsating stuff and the massive galleries at Mission Hills, although still relative newcomers to the game, were enthralled. In the end it took an uncharacteristic mistake from Weekley, arguably the player of the tournament, on the third playoff hole to decide the outcome. But the message was clear: this is a tournament not to be missed.
Since 1953, the World Cup developed its international reputation for excellence by annually drawing together teams of two golfers from up to 32 nations who compete each year “for the honour of their countries.” In the storied history of golf ’s World Cup, no fewer than 24 nations have hosted the event over the years. All the great names of golf have won this prestigious trophy, including Snead, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Ballesteros and the reigning world number one, Tiger Woods. In 1995, the World Cup established an historic milestone when it visited China—and Mission Hills—for the first time, essentially introducing professional tournament to the Middle Kingdom. In 2007, the Omega Mission Hills World Cup returned to China and will now remain at Mission Hills until 2018. With such a distinguished history, it is hardly surprising that it has been labeled “The Golden Game of Golf ”, a title of huge significance in modern China. Nicklaus himself noted, on a visit to the club earlier this year, that the event “has everything. Great players who have mutual respect for each other, playing under tremendous pressure—and all for national pride. That’s the World Cup.” HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Hong Kong Hotline: (852) 21221616 Hong Kong Fax: (852) 28699632 Email: email@example.com Website: www.missionhillsgroup.com
Away From the Fairways
Known throughout the world for its twelve signature courses, golf is actually just one aspect of the Mission Hills experience. Within its 20 square km expanse, the resort features a five-star hotel and world-class spa that embrace a lifestyle of leisure and wellness. Asia’s largest tennis centre (with a staggering 51 courts), luxurious residential developments, and a selection of international restaurants and entertainment venues—as well as a generous programme of leisure activities—ensure there’s plenty of activities to keep you busy when you’ve finished your game.
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Best Seat in the House
To enjoy the tournament from the best vantage point possible, Mission Hills is offering guests the opportunity to experience the World Cup direct from the sidelines. The package features access to the Dongguan Clubhouse’s Grand Ballroom, where fans can enjoy the game from the viewing terrace where a panoramic view of the 18th hole can be found. Marquees next to selected holes along the Olazabal Course are exclusively dedicated to audience who’ve subscribed to the package.
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SYDNEY Price: AU$1.75 million - $1.95 million (HK$8.2 million - $9.2 million) Location: Pymble, Sydney, Australia Golf Course: Pymble Golf Club Features: 2 brand new Torrens title residences with a superb north to rear aspect situated just off the fourth green of Sydney’s exclusive Pymble Golf Club. The homes have 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, two car accommodation, deluxe kitchens, quality inclusions and the latest technology. Description: Located on Sydney’s affluent and leafy North Shore, just 40 minutes drive from Sydney CBD, these superb properties have a breathtaking outlook and require little maintenance. Close proximity to shopping centres and Sydney’s most prestigious private schools. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; +61 405 484 505
Dalat Delight A new collection of French-style villas in Vietnam’s cool highlands and near its most historical golf club is redefining luxury living
f, as they say, “location, location, location” means everything in the real estate game, then La Vallée de Dalat already sits at the top of the leaderboard in Vietnam. While ground was only just broken on the seven, 6,450-square-foot French-style villas that will make up La Vallée, their position—on a pine-studded hillside nearly 5,000 feet above sea level and overlooking lush Dalat Valley—is as good as it gets. “The property is wedged between government-owned pieces of land, providing buffers between further development,” says Le Ngoc Khanh Tam, general director of the Khanh Tam Development Co., developer of La Vallée. “The forest we’ve got to our right and our left cannot be razed.” Grand architecture has long been a part of the landscape in Dalat, which was founded by the French in the early part of the last century and turned into an escape for Saigon’s colonial elite. It was even a favorite haunt of the country’s last from Ho Chi Minh City by air. “The same emperor, Bao Dai, who used the storied Dalat Palace Golf Club as his personal might be said of the villas themselves since we playground. secured the last stunning piece of land available La Vallée takes its cue from that bygone era, and then does it one better by in Dalat City.”—Scott Resch employing contemporary building materials and sophisticated design. Tile roofs, wide-plank FAST FACTS flooring, French doors, fireplaces, wine cellars and spacious salons are all part of the tasteful Price: US$1.2 million – 1.5 million (HK$9.3 million – 11.6 million) blend, which when pieced together will evoke the Location: Dalat, Vietnam Golf Course: Dalat Palace Golf Club best of past and present luxury living. A family Features: Seven 4-bedroom, 6,450-square-foot villas, on plots ranging from golf membership is thrown in for good measure. 8,600 to 13,000-square foot. “The golf in Vietnam does not get any better Amenities: Golf Club family membership, championship tennis court and Jacuzzi. than it does in Dalat,” says Tam, who grew up in Scheduled completion: July 2009 the Central Highlands town, less than an hour Contact: CB Richard Ellis +84 8 824 6125; www.cbrevietnam.com 56
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THE LODGE AT SUNCADIA Price: US$390,000 - $2.45 million (HK$3.05 million - $19 million) Location: Cle Elum, Washington, USA Golf course: Three courses, including two award winning courses—Prospector, an Arnold Palmer design, and Tumble Creek. Features: 223 units ranging in size from 449 to 2,500 square feet (studio to 3 bedrooms). Guestoom options include private balconies and deep soaking tubs. The developer will offer 7% guaranteed return for the first five years. Description: All-season mountain resort located less than 100 miles east of Seattle on the sunny side of Cascade Mountain Range. 55 miles of trails, horse-back riding and fly-fishing available in the warmer months; dog sledding, cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter. Luxury spa and swim and fitness centre on-site. Contact: Savills Hong Kong - Prestigious International Properties; +852 2842 4455 WWW.HKGA.COM
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There’s a lot at stake at the Omega Championship, the final event of the Omega China Tour 2008 season. HK Golfer reports from Beijing PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID PAUL MORRIS/WORLD SPORT GROUP
Zhou Jun, Longxi Hot Spring Golf Resort, Beijing, October 2008 58
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nthusiasm—that’s the thing that strikes you about the players on the Omega China Tour. Or at least it did me when I went to interview the leaders after the first day’s play. First there was Zhou Jun, a 24-year-old waif of a man from Tianjin, who had just come in with a 3-under 69. “Today was my first ever bogey-free round,” he beamed. “I’m so happy about that. It’s really amazing. I can’t wait to call home.” And then there was Xu Qin, a 27-year-old from Ningbo, who matched Zhou’s score. Dressed in a now-fashionable Argyle sweater and with his heavily-gelled hair sprouting up over the top of his visor, it came as no surprise to learn who his hero was. “Yes, Ian Poulter is my style icon,” he grinned. “It’s important to look good. I like to match my belts and shirts. Poulter is my fashion police.” You could spend a few months covering one of the bigger tours and not get copy anywhere near as colourful as that. Overall it’s been a good day for the Hong Kong players. Nick Redfern, who occasionally teaches at the Legendary Golf Academy at SkyCity Nine Eagles, was leading the tournament at 5-under a before dropping three shots late on. Nevertheless, he’s a happy chap as he and his wife Yvette, who doubles as his caddie, enter the media centre. “I like being in the red,” he tells the assorted bunch of journos, “especially in China.” It’s a good line, and if any of the mainland media actually understood what he meant they might even consider running it. Also well-placed is Wong Woon-man. Wong, a former Hong Kong Close Amateur champion WWW.HKGA.COM
who won this year’s HKPGA Order of Merit title got it round in 71; his best ever start to a China Tour event. “Very lucky, very lucky,” was all he would say. It’s nonsense of course. I’ve seen him play. He’s got plenty of game. We’re no closer to knowing who will win the Order of Merit race after the two main protagonists—Li Chao and Liao Guiming—both shoot 72. Li, a strapping lad from Beijing who has already pocketed two China Tour Order of Merit titles, needs to win the tournament to stand any chance, while Liao, a laid-back guy from Guangxi, can wrap up his first with a solid finish this week. Li has earned a bit of a reputation on Tour for being a miserable old so and so, but I think that’s a little harsh. I sat next to him during the Pro-Am dinner and he was very courteous. The word from the organizers is that he’s just very shy, so he can come across as a bit stand-offish on occasion. This might explain why he has so far refused to leave China and chance his arm on the Asian Tour fulltime. It’s a shame because he’s clearly a wonderful player. I did learn something interesting about Li after watching him play the final few holes of his round though: he swears in fluent English— and very loudly.
Day Two Xing Xiao-xuan is not a name many will know— or be able to pronounce, for that matter. But the news today is that ‘Triple X’ (a brilliant nickname coined by the organizers) shot a 68 to share the halfway lead with Zhou. Triple X is a tall, athletic guy with a swing to die for. He really looks the part and it will be interesting to see whether he has the mettle to hold on to his lead over the weekend.
Beijing boys (from top): Li Chao and Liao Guiming face off for the Order of Merit title; HK-based Nick Redfern enjoyed a fabulous start.
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shoot really low numbers. They have to experience getting to 6-7-8-under par, and they’ve go to feel comfortable doing it regularly. You can’t make those kinds of scores on this course.”
The scoring hasn’t been great today. Hong Kong’s James Stewart continued his poor run of form and missed the cut, which was very disappointing, but no-one has really gone out and posted a really low number. 68 was as good as we got. But there’s a reason for this: the Longxi course, although not especially fearsome off the tee, has been set up borderline scary. The putting surfaces, with their big Hollinger-designed slopes (see page 32), are running really quick. Miss the green and you’ve got one hell of a difficult chip. Find the green and you’ve got one hell of a difficult putt. Although describing them as Augusta-like is pushing it a little, there’s no doubt the field is finding them tough to negotiate. I suppose this is the end of year event, but let’s face it: on a developmental tour you want to see low numbers. Over-par scores, regardless of the difficulty of the course, don’t look good. Nick Redfern slips down into a share of sixth after a 76 while Wong Woon-man is now in a tie for eleventh after carding the same score. Ja s o n Rob e r t s o n , w ho teaches at IYGL in Causeway Bay, carded a 73 to move up into t he top-25, but otherwise it was a day for Hong Kong fans to forget.
Day Three Saturday is traditionally referred to as “moving day” but the continuing toughness of the course means that players scoring in the mid60
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70s remain pretty much where they started off. There were no scores in the 60s at all, which is almost much unheard of in professional golf. But don’t be fooled: the standard of play on the China Tour, among the top fifty players at any rate, is very good indeed. It’s just a combination of tricky pin positions and quick greens that’s preventing anyone from having a real run. Nevertheless, young Zhou and Chan Yihshin from Taiwan have opened up a bit of a gap at the top of the leaderboard. Zhou, with another 72, is holding his nerve superbly and has a two shot lead at 5-under. Chan’s 70—a brilliant score under the circumstances—is the low round of the day and puts him five shots ahead of Triple X and Wu Kangchun in third. You have to like Zhou’s chances, and the fact that he wore a pair of luminous orange trousers during the round makes me think he has the confidence to pull this off. The Order of Merit battle takes another turn after Liao, struggling with a stiff neck, plummets down the field after carding an 81. Li has to win the tournament to stand any chance, and at 3-overpar and eight shots back of the leader, it looks unlikely. But stranger things have happened. The great news from a Hong Kong point of view is Jovick Lee’s even par round of 72, which lifts him twenty spots into a share of twelfth. Jovick, a teaching pro at Fanling, is using his tour card to test himself under real tournament conditions. He’s only been to a few events this year, but he’s full of praise for the whole concept of the China Tour. “It’s an incredibly well-run tour,” he says. “To be able to play competitive golf against excellent players on a regular basis is an fantastic experience. It really shows you where you are with your game. If you’re not playing under pressure, you really have no idea how good you are.” James Stewart makes a valid point, however. “The courses should be set up much easier,” he says. “These young guys have to learn how to WWW.HKGA.COM
A star is born. Zhou Jun, the kid who wanted to call home and tell his parents about his first bogey-free round at the beginning of the week, has annihilated the field, finishing at 6-under, a massive seven shots clear of Wu Kangchun in second. “I can’t believe it,” says Zhou, who nearly triples his earnings for the year by picking up the RMB187,500 winner’s cheque. “I can’t believe I played so well.” But he did. Quite frankly, he looked like a winner long before he sunk the final putt. Powering drives down the middle of the fairway, fizzing irons shots into the greens— he seemed completely in control the whole way around. And he’s fun in the press conference too. “I didn’t sleep too well because I was up late playing cards with my coach,” he says. “I ended up losing to him, but he said that’s OK because it meant I would go out and win today.” Time will tell if Zhou turns into the complete package, but his win at the Omega China Tour’s richest event of the season is the result that everyone craved. This is a Tour that was set up to find the next generation of mainland players, and in youthful Zhou they might well have discovered Liang Wenchong’s successor. Inviting the Taiwanese and opening up the fields to Hong Kong and Western pros based in the Greater China region, a decision made in late 2007, was absolutely the right thing to do—it strengthens the fields and provides a more cosmopolitan playing environment. But the mission from the start has always been straightforward: China golf needs winners. And in the Omega China Tour they have the perfect platform in which to achieve that.
Omega odyssey (clockwise from top): Zhou holes a crucial putt on day three; Wong Woonman struggles after a bright start; Jovick Lee in action; trendy Xu Qin at a postround press conference; Jason Robertson lets one fly. WWW.HKGA.COM
SCORES 1 Zhou Jun 2 Wu Kangchun 3 Chan Yishin 4 Li Chao 5= Fu Xin Chen Xiaoma He Shaocai 8= Xiao Zhijin Xing Xiaoxuan 10 Liu Anda
PRC PRC TPE PRC PRC PRC PRC PRC PRC PRC
282 289 290 291 293 293 293 294 294 295
(69-72-70-71) (72-70-76-71) (72-71-70-77) (72-74-73-72) (72-75-73-73) (71-77-72-73) (75-77-75-66) (73-74-74-73) (73-68-77-76) (76-76-73-70)
17 19 27 41
HKG HKG HKG HKG
298 299 302 305
(76-73-76-73) (70-76-76-77) (75-76-72-79) (71-76-79-79)
Jason Robertson Nick Redfern Jovick Lee Wong Woon-man
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World Cup Punting
A Scandinavian Sweep Look for Sweden and Denmark to Shine at Mission Hills
he bunker-strewn Olazabal Course at Mission Hills provides the challenge for the 28 teams representing their countries at the 2008 Omega Mission Hills World Cup. With a handsome US$5,500,000 purse and diverse field, the World Cup promises to continue its fine heritage of exciting team golf. This time around, picking likely winners requires looking beyond the obvious countries. Lacking really stellar names, the golfing powerhouses of Australia (Green/Jones), South Africa (Sabbatini/Sterne) and the USA (Curtis/ Snedeker) will be priced by bookmakers at levels representing poor value. This event often attracts the entry of a ‘Killer Kombo’. Over the years, a number of teams have been entered containing a couple of major champions
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looking to blitz the field with class and have a blast doing so (Couples/Love 1992-95, Woods/ O’Meara 1999, Els/Goosen 2001). When players of this caliber decide to play, they come to win and can be backed with confidence. This year, however, we should look to a different combination: the ‘Compatible Couple’. These are teams that contain a pair of solid grinders, on-form and experienced enough to survive the heightened emotions of team play. The Albatross had a profitable World Cup when identifying Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley’s compatibility at Kiawah Island in 1997. The South Africans Sabbatini and Immelman and England’s Donald and Casey also demonstrated the effectiveness of this strategy in 2004 and 2005. This year there are two teams that catch the eye in this regard and I believe its time for the Scandinavians. In Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, Sweden is represented by two of the most solid swingers in the game. Fresh off successful seasons—Karlsson, especially, is in exceptional form having just picked up the European Order of Merit crown—they are archetypal modern golfers; athletic, big-hitting robo-players who one senses would be highly motivated to take the World Cup back to Stockholm. Likely to slightly longer odds but almost as compelling are the Hansen boys from Denmark. With a respectable Ryder Cup performance behind him, Soren will come to China with high expectations and a desire to make history by putting the name of Denmark on the cup for the first time. Looking for an Asian winner? Japan probably has the best chances led by recent PGA Tour winner Ryuji Imada, backed up by Tori Taniguchi. Imada has been in fine form during the last few events on the US circuit and this pair will certainly have a strong chance in emulating Maruyama and Izawa’s success in 2002. As a long shot, the India challenge of Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa could well give investors a good run for their money. India has just launched its first rocket to the moon; Jeev and Jyoti could well be ‘over the moon’ come Sunday night. —Archie Albatross WWW.HKGA.COM
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Around the Clubs The Hong Kong Golf Club Shanghai Visitors Cup 1 October CS Fraser / I Houstoun won the Shanghai Visitors Cup played over the Old Course with Nett 62. RYC Yang / S Lee were the runnersup with Nett 63. HKJC Centenary Trophy (Gross Section) 7 October K Inge won the HKJC Centenary Trophy Gross Section played over the Eden Course with 32 points. K S K Lam was the runner-up with 30 points. HKJC Centenary Trophy (Nett Section) 7 October K S K Lam wont he HKJC Centenary Trophy Nett Section played over the Eden Course with 41 points. J Collier was the runner-up with 36 points. Lindrick Trophy 11 October K Leung / Miss Y Chi won the Lindrick Trophy played over the New Course with 46 points. B Chong / Miss C Chong were the runnersup with 45 points. Monthly Medal (Gross Section) 18 October R de Lacy Staunton won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the New Course with 70. Monthly Medal (Nett Section) 18 October E J Evans won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the New Course with Nett 66. International Cup 19 October China won the International Cup played over the New & Eden Courses with 210 points. Japan finished runner-up with 205 points. Baffy Spoon 26 October J Blackwood / D Williams won the above competition played over the New and Eden Courses with +1. B Keung / E J Evans were the runners-up with -1. Gussie White Trophy 26 October J Blackwood / D Williams won the above competition played over the New & Eden Courses with 146. K Inge / A J P Taylor were the runners-up with 152.
Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club Ladies Events
September Medal 3 September Division 1 Gross Winner: Sunny Kang (84) Division 1 Nett Winner: Haj Wilcox (71) Division 1 Nett Runner-up: Joanne McKee (79) Division 2 Gross Winner: Chikako Yabe (98) Division 2 Nett Winner: Kanako Tanaka (78) Division 2 Nett Runner-up: Linda Wang (80)
October Medal 15 October 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:
Ashling Geh (86) Callie Botsford (71 C/B) K R Shin (71) Sue Hadaway (92) Fizzy Pavri (72) Peggy Wong (73)
Captain’s Cup 21 September Gross Winner: Sibo Yan (71) Gross Runner-up: Dugene Pak (75 C/B) Nett Winner: Peter Chan (68) Nett Runner-up: Giles Scott (71) Chairman’s Cup 21 September Winner: Joe Lok (43 points C/B) Runner-up: S K Tse (43 points) Sir Run Run Shaw Trophy 28 September Winners: Tracy Fan & Denis Cheung (61 C/B) First Runners-up: Cindy Cheng & Charles Chan (61) Second Runners-up: Judy Chan & Wilson Chan (62) Captain’s Cup 18 October Gross Winner: Gross Runner-up: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:
Stuart Gethin (80) Jackson Chu (83) Rodney Cheung (74) Michael Brown (76)
Chairman’s Cup 18 October Winner: Wilson Chan (37 points) Runner-up: Steven Chan (36 points C/B)
The Boys from
Busan Why Korean male golfers are finally emerging from the shadow of their female counterparts BY HARRY MCCUMBER PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ASIAN TOUR
Discovery Bay Golf Club Ladies Events
Monthly Medal 28 September Best Gross: Chisako Kubota (75) Division A Winner: T S Uhm (Nett 68 C/B) Division B Winner: Y S Doo (40 points) Anniversary Cup 11-12 October Best Gross: Mari Maeda (56 points C/B) Winner: Mable Mak (Nett 77 points C/B) Runner-up: Candy Lai (Nett 77 points) Monthly Medal 26 October Best Gross: Rungnapa Winchester (76) Division A Winner: Rebecca Ho (Nett 67) Division B Winner: Alice Lau (Nett 45 points)
Monthly Medal 28 September Best Gross: Shinichi Mizuno (77 C/B) Division A Winner: M Yanai (Nett 71) Division B Winner: Takenori Ino (Nett 66) Division C Winner: Ronald Tong (38 points)
Autumn Cup 10 September Winner: Anita Chu (73) First Runner-up: Diana Ting (74) Second Runner-up: Madoka Murayama (75 C/B)
Men’s Matchplay 7-21 September Winner: Michael Stott Runner-up: Akiyoshi Kubota Semi-finalist: Kimitoshi Hoshiyama Semi-finalist: K S Lee
Autumn Plate 10 September Winner: Cecilia Szeto (36 points) First Runner-up: Peggy Wong (35 points) Second Runner-up: Akiko Harada (34 points C/B)
Anniversary Cup 11-12 October Best Gross: Matajiro Nagatomi (61 points) Winner: Y H Chin (Nett 75 points) Runner-up: William Chung (Nett 74 points)
September Stableford 17 September Division 1 Winner: Elsa Chao (37 points) Division 1 Runner-up: Sunny Kang (30 points) Division 2 Winner: Chikako Yabe (34 points) Division 2 Runner-up: Akiko Harada (33 points C/B)
James Hui Cup 19 October Best Gross: Michael Stott (72) Winner: John Seto (Nett 69) First Runner-up: Kenneth Lam (Nett 70 C/B) Second Runner-up: B W Park (Nett 70)
October Stableford 8 October Division 1 Winner: Lily Lau (31 points) Division 1 Runner-up: Madoka Murayama (30 points) Division 2 Winner: Fizzy Pavri (33 points) Division 2 Runner-up: Cecilia Szeto (30 points C/B)
Monthly Medal 26 October Best Gross: B W Park (74) Division A Winner: Y S Kim (Nett 68) Division B Winner: Ferant Chan (Nett 66) Division C Winner: Edward Lau (Nett 38 points)
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Asians On Tour
anny Lee, the highest ranked amateur in the world, is no accident. The 2006 number one, Lee Won-Joon, is no f luke. The Korean Open champion Bae Sang-moon is no surprise. The Asian Tour’s leading rookie is Noh Seung-Yul…well, you get the picture. And then there’s Anthony Kim. Those who saw his demolition of the once-leading pretender to Tiger’s throne, Sergio Garcia, in the Ryder Cup saw something special. It was confirmation that young Koreans, whether born at home or abroad, are the hottest items in golf. There are sound reasons for the rise of Korean men. The Korean golfing market is bigger than the rest of Asia (outside of Japan) combined. The knock-on effect from the women’s success is immense. Facilities for juniors are improving; overseas cells of young golfers are starting to bear fruit (see sidebar) and then there are the intangibles that go with being Korean. The American-born Kim was in Korea for the Hana Bank Kolon 51st Korea Open in October and relished the chance to play at “home”. “I had a great time,” he said. “I obviously felt very welcome here with the Korean fans and they supported me the whole way through.” WWW.HKGA.COM
Bang Sae-moon, Korean Open, 2008
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(clockwise from right): Noh celebrates with his father at the Midea Classic; Kim Dae-sub won an Asian Tour event while still an amateur; Anthony Kim has the potential to be world number one.
Listen to Kim speak and he’s as Californian as they come. But while you can take the boy out of Korea, you can’t take Korea out of the boy. “Obviously when I get to come back here, it’s a great time for me, I get to learn where my parents are from, and where my roots are from. Obviously the tournament didn’t go like how I wanted and planned, but life goes on and I’m going to have a great time with my parents and my friends.” Asian Tour veteran Anthony Kang has witnessed the rise of Korean golf first hand. A twotime winner in Asia, Kang was born in Korea but educated in the USA. Kim’s success is—to belabour the original point—no bolt from the blue.
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“There’s a lot of new players coming up at a younger age, be it from Korea or Australia or the USA following in footsteps of KJ Choi and the doors he’s opened for everybody,” Kang says. “The men are taking after the Korean ladies. It’s taken a little longer maybe because guys mature a little later and at home they have to do national service for two years so that holds them back, but everyone can see on TV the success the ladies are having and it gives the guys confidence and makes them want to emulate their success. It’s a snowball effect,” he says. The Korean Diaspora (see sidebar) is also taking effect. “Because of the harsh winters, a lot of Korean players are leaving to go to New Zealand, the Philippines, Australia and the US, to hone their games. It’s a good sign for Korean golf. Pretty soon the PGA Tour might become like the LPGA Tour where you have 20 to 30 Korean players teeing it up every week,” Kang says. Kim is candid about the advantages being Korean. Much, too much, was made in the US press of teenage tiffs with his father and a year or so spent concentrating on what might be termed affairs off the course. In the end, though, traditional Korean respect for parents won through. “Koreans I think generally are really hardworking people. So for me to have a day off or for me to kind of be a 14-year-old kid when I was 14 wasn't maybe as acceptable as it was over there in the States. So I would say more it was tougher on a Korean standard. But overall, I think it was blown way out of proportion and it was not that bad,” Kim says. “I learned so much from those experiences. It made me tougher. I really feel like where it helped me the most was to get my PGA Tour card and to get through Q-School when everything was on the line and I felt a lot of pressure from outside people as well as myself; it helped me block those things out and get to where I wanted to go.” There’s a wealth of maturity in that reaction. Not everyone makes it through the pressure cooker that can be Korean parental expectation. Does the name Michelle Wie ring a bell? Kim says that many young Koreans in the past have peaked too early, but that may be changing. “When they hit 18 or 19 years old, they were burned out, and I think parents are starting to realize to scale down and let the kids be kids when they need to be, but work hard when they are practicing golf,” he says. Not that that applied to the young superstar. “No. I was never worried about that because I did so many other things, and I did everything that a kid would want to do. A nd there wasn't anything that I really missed out in my childhood. I played sports. I had lots of friends. WWW.HKGA.COM
I went to sleepovers. I did everything that a kid could want. I felt like I had a pretty good balance in my life. And that much-publicized tiff with his father? “ T here's not much to say ab out my relationship with him. He's my dad, I love him, and whatever has happened in the past has happened. I think we've both learned from our mistakes, and as I'm getting older, I'm realizing a lot of the things he did were for my
own good. I guess I thank him for that, and I'm lucky to be in this position. So overall, it was tough, but it was a good experience and I'm glad I got through it and now I'm playing on the PGA Tour and I'm lucky enough to be here.”
Professional Amateurs Veteran Philippine professional Danny Zarate spotted them first. Chips were being chipped, putts were rolling in. Nothing too unusual at the Southwoods Golf and Country Club south of Manila, except the chippers and putters were Korean. Korean kids; early teens at best. “They’re all over the place,” Zarate said. “It’s the same at my home club Riveria, there’s young Koreans who do nothing but play golf all day. It’s been going on for a few years now.” An Asian Tour television crew popped over for a chat and a “gosh-we-might-use-it-in-a-story-one-day” interview. The kids confirmed everything Zarate had said. “We’re here to learn golf, we have a tutor for school work and we’re learning English,” said one of the youngsters. Their fathers, he said, took turns to spend a few days or weeks a month with their sons. That, four years ago, got the young man a gig on an Asian Tour Weekly feature, along with others like him from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and further afield. As the crew tracked the youngsters over the next few years once thick Korean accents transmogrified into twangs from the western suburbs of Sydney, rural New Zealand and Orange County, California. Today the results of the Korean golfing Diaspora are beginning starting to show.
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Q&A: Kevin Hind We go head-to-head with Clearwater Bay’s Director of Golf
You joined Clearwater Bay in April. How have you enjoyed the first six months? Clearwater Bay is a truly special place. The membership and staff are fantastic and it is a real pleasure to come to work everyday Who is your biggest inspiration in golf? My biggest inspiration as a child was Seve Ballesteros. I use to love watching the way he played golf. He would take on every shot and was never the type of golfer to try and play conservatively. An extremely exciting player to watch and an inspiration for millions of golfers around the world. What’s your favourite hole at Clearwater Bay? It has to be the third. It is our signature hole and there is a reason for this… it is a truly awesome golf hole! The wind plays a big part and the tee shot can be very intimidating. The hole plays differently every time and it can bite you very quickly as there is trouble everywhere. What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to Biography you on the course? Whilst I was working in Lahore, Pakistan I got to play quite Place of birth: Carlisle, Cumbria, England a lot of golf with the President. During one particular round Age first picked up a golf club: 14 I started off with three birdies and was lining up my birdie Turned Pro: 16, two months before my 17th birthday putt on the fourth hole. The President asked if I was feeling Career: General Manager/Director of Golf (Beijing) OK and I asked why. He informed me that at that moment Director of Golf (Pakistan) in time I was in the crosshairs of about twenty snipers Golf Operations Manager (Dubai) on the rooftops around the hole. I looked up and saw the Director of Golf & Recreation (Saudi Arabia) snipers all pointing their guns towards me, which was a bit of a strange feeling to say the least. The President asked me to now try and hole the putt. I stood over the ball thinking about the Masters, US Open, Open Championship guns pointing at me and then, of course, missed it. or PGA Championship—which major would you most like to win? What’s your favourite course outside of Hong Kong? If I had a choice in the matter I would win It has to be the Majlis Course at The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. It is a the Open Championship at St. Andrews by real gem. You have to play there if you’re heading that way. holing a putt on the last for a birdie three to beat Tiger Woods. OK, enough dreaming! If you could change one of the Rules of Golf, which one would it The Open Championship is the one that be and why? every professional golfer dreams about Not being allowed to have a mulligan! Seriously, the Rules of Golf are winning. extremely fair and the R&A works hard to ensure that the rules are kept upto-date with the changing times. Who’s your money on for the UBS Hong Kong Open? Most common mistake you see amateur golfers make? I think Miguel Angel Jimenez has a great Bad course management is a very common mistake, especially around chance of repeating his victory. Clearwater Bay. Many amateurs will try to take on the “miracle” golf shot, which they might pull off once in every one hundred attempts. Play How do you unwind? smarter and you will score better. I like to spend time with my family and friends. I have two sons, Jack (aged 3) and Dream fourball? Josh (2 months). They keep me on my toes Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Seve. so I don’t have too much time to unwind. 68
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The EverStrengthening Euro
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Hong Kong Open’s stock rises with announcement of Race to Dubai playing schedule BY MATHEW SCOTT
n days of hardship it pays to grab all the good news you might find—and to hold on tight. And while it is excusable that a news release on 20 October didn’t steal all the headlines it once might have—what with the world reeling from a flurry of fiscal blows—it’s a shame it didn’t do just that because it did provide a shaft of light in these uncertain times. One of the arguments you’ll hear repeated ad nauseum by those who hold Asian golf in low esteem is that—while the region has made great inroads in terms of courses and while it has produced a selection of the world’s best players—the game, or rather the events held out here, still don’t really mean much in the greater scheme of things. The UK has the history, the US the glamour. Between them they share the big purses, along with the big names. And the rest of the world makes do with a smattering of stars and considerably lesser lights pairing off with the locals, looking for an easy payday. Or so the story goes. But times are changing. Consider the implications of that press release: “Next year’s UBS Hong Kong Open will be the final event prior to the money spinning inaugural Dubai World Championship, in which only the top 60 players on the [European Tour’s] money list will take part. The scene will be set for a battle royal at Fanling next year as players scramble to qualify for the Dubai event, which will carry prize money of US$10 million and a bonus pool of another US$10 million.’’ As impressive as those words are, the message behind them is even more important. In backing the Hong Kong event, the European Tour has shown faith in one of the region’s longest running and most prestigious events but it has also pointed the way forward. You don’t try to beat off other events, or even compete with them, you find a way to give the players—and thereby the fans— options that are not already offered. And, of course, involve lots and lots of money. With six events on the 2009 calendar co-sanctioned between the Asian Tour and the European Tour that can only mean better players out here—and better events. The positive reaction to the European Tour’s decision has been instantaneous. Already two of the hottest properties in golf—American Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas of Colombia—have signed up for next season’s European Tour. 70
HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
And both have gone “The Race to Dubai will public with the fact take the UBS Hong Kong that the Dubai event Open to the next level.” was the sweetener that sealed the deal. – Miguel Angel Jiménez For stalwarts of the European Tour, the news has been a godsend. “If you want the tour to grow and get to the level that it deserves, there's no doubt that you need those big players," said Sergio Garcia. Three-time Major winner Phil Mickleson—back in Asia to defend his HSBC Champions title in Shanghai this month— believes the world’s top players simply have to travel more. There have even been rumours that the American might join next year’s European Tour—which would mean it would boast nine of the world’s top 10 players, with only Tiger Woods off its books. “As a professional golfer we have to adapt … and that means playing more internationally because that's where the opportunities are and that's where they'll continue to grow,’’ said Mickelson. So there you have it. Some positive news before you go back to weeping your way through the financial pages. There are of course a few top quality players who have been coming out here for years—and have seen their games, as much as their bank balances, flourish because of it. For them, the Hong Kong Open’s new role offers a rich reward for their support. So perhaps the final word should go to one of them—twotime UBS Hong Kong Open winner Miguel Angel Jiménez . “I’ve always loved playing in the UBS Hong Kong Open because it’s a great golf course and the atmosphere is fantastic,’’ he told HK Golfer. “But the Race to Dubai will take it to the next level. It’s going to make the Hong Kong event even more competitive because players will be fighting to make the top 60 and qualify for the Dubai World Championship. “I think it’s great for the UBS Hong Kong Open that it now has such an important spot in the calendar. It’s one of my favourite tournaments, I feel comfortable at Fanling and the people are so nice, and now the Race to Dubai gives me even more excuse for going back.” Note: The words are the writer’s own and not necessarily those of the Hong Kong Golf Association. WWW.HKGA.COM
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HK GOLFER・NOV/DEC 2008
Published on Oct 31, 2008
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