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HK Golfer Golf with a Legend: Playing with Open champ Peter Thomson

THE OFF I C I A L P U B L I CAT I O N O F T H E H O NG KO NG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 39

HKGA.COM

APR/MAY 2009

$40

The Greatest Stage Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters?

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Contents

HK Golfer

Issue 39

EXPERIENCE

April/May 2009

VISION 31

Luxe Hills, China Hole 2 Par 3

Features

Plus…

26 | A Round with a Legend: Peter Thomson

06 | From the President

Five-time Open champion, three-time President’s Cup captain, winner of over 100 professional events— and for one afternoon last November, HK Golfer’s teammate in a friendly betterball game.

31 | On the Game’s Greatest Stage

A Hong Kong golfer receiving an invitation to the Masters? Maybe not this year, but the chance of one of our own teeing it up at Augusta in the not too distant future isn’t as unlikely as it might sound.

36 | The 10 Greatest Major Moments

Mak Lok-lin provides the definitive list of golf’s most celebrated occasions.

44 | Iron Man

As his performance at the Hong Kong Open proved, 51-year-old Bernhard Langer still has it takes to take on the world’s best. Jason Dasey reports.

50 | In Pursuit of Perfection

Peter Downie, the former director of golf at Clearwater Bay, has set his sights high at his new club – immaculate Sentosa.

60 | New Dawn at New Kuta

After a decade of idleness, New Kuta Golf Club is burgeoning along Bali’s most breathtaking balcony.

On the Cover:

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

The par-3 16th at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament.

With HKGA President Richard Siemens

08 | Mailbag

WORLD CLASS RESULTS

Your thoughts, concerns, feelings and felicitations

09 | Clubhouse Style, news and stats

10 | Tee Time

With Christie’s Tim Bourne

14 | Liquid Assets Robert Rees on wine

18 | Divots

The latest updates from the HKGA

19 | Junior Golf

News from the HKGA Junior section

Mark E. Hollinger ASGCA

21 | Rules

Dr Brian Choa answers your questions

23 | Junior Training

With National Junior Coach Brad Schadewitz

33 | Golf Punting Best picks at the Masters

Address: 1513 Folger Drive, Belmont, California 94002 USA Tel: 1-650-620-9670 Fax: 1-650-620-9707 China: (86)136-6018-6366

66 | Final Shot

Augusta's Amen Corner

www.jmpgolf.com

Photo by Martin Miller

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From the President Dear Golfer, As we all know, the Masters is a truly special and unique event. Held annually at Augusta National Golf Club, the tournament’s status as the most exclusive Major stems largely from its unique invitation system. While most professional events routinely feature 140-plus players, the field at the Masters rarely exceeds 100. It is the arena where the very best in the game battle it out over four days of intense competition; and it is the dream of every golfer, whether amateur or professional, to play on its pristine fairways and immaculate greens. All of which makes the newly-created Asian Amateur Championship, to be played this October at Mission Hills Golf Club, all the more exciting. In February, Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A and Tommy Lee, Chairman of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation announced at a press conference in Hong Kong the formation of the event and the stunning privilege that goes to its winner: an invite to the Masters. Incentives for amateur golfers simply don’t get any better than that. But it doesn’t stop there. The winner and runner-up will also earn a place at International Final Qualifying for the 139th Open Championship at St Andrews. Hong Kong will be represented at the Asian A mateur Championship by at least two of our highest world-ranked players, which is in itself excellent news. To have the opportunity to challenge for a spot in arguably the world’s biggest tournament will be an incredible experience—and you never know, a Hong Kong player could well win it. The improvement shown by our international players, especially by our junior golfers, in recent times makes this a possibility. Difficult, yes, but certainly not an impossible scenario. Continuing on the junior golf theme, I am delighted to announce the partnership between the HKGA and EFG Bank and the news that they will sponsor the HKGA Junior Development Programme for the next three years (see page 19). EFG’s commitment, especially during these troubled financial times, is admirable and we are very much looking forward to working together over the months and years ahead. Not only will the sponsorship help improve the playing and coaching opportunities for our fine young players, it will also go a long way to opening more avenues for less experienced junior golfers as well. The creation of more junior events is a high priority for the HKGA and it will undoubtedly raise the standard of golf for years to come. Richard Siemens President Hong Kong Golf Association

HK Golfer THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION APR/MAY 2009 • Issue 39

Editor: Alex Jenkins email: alex.jenkins@timesic.com Sub-editor: Linda Tsang Playing Editor: Jean Van de Velde Contributors: Brad Schadewitz (Junior Training), Dr. Brian Choa (Rules), Iain Roberts (Instruction), Patrick Leung (Event Photography), Robin Moyer (Course Photography), Arthur Hacker (Cartoons) 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: advertising@hkgolfermagazine.com For purchasing information contact: sales@hkgolfermagazine.com For subscription information contact: subscriptions@hkgolfermagazine.com Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email: hkgolf@hkga.com handicaps@hkga.com HK GOLFER is printed in Hong Kong by Regal Printing Limited, Good Prospect Factory Bldg, 33-35 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong.

HKGolfer Golf with a Legend: Playing with Open champ Peter Thomson

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 39

HKGA.COM

APR/MAY 2009

$40

The Greatest Stage Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters?

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Golf in Myanmar Bernhard Langer Major Moments DISPLAY UNTIL 15 JUNE

HK Golfer is available onboard all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair First and Business Class cabins.

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HK Golfer E-mailbag

Virtual US Open

Where’s Gary?

I just read Mak Lok-lin’s article on bunker shots [“The 10 Greatest Bunker Shots” January/February 2009] and really enjoyed it. However, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t one from Gary Player included on the list. Hailed as the greatest bunker player of all time, I would have thought that the Black Knight would have been featured somewhere. What’s up with that? Thanks for the good work. Thomas Chan Kennedy Road Editor responds: Thanks, Thomas. We tracked down Mak Lok-lin and discovered him nursing a large Gin & Tonic following his latest (unsuccessful) efforts on the links and asked him for a response. Slurring slightly, but still vaguely coherent, he agreed with your comment but justified the omission by pointing out that Player’s strength lay in his sheer consistency rather than producing dramatic recovery shots in the Majors. Immediately prior to sliding off his barstool, he made an appeal to more of his readers to write in and let him know what they think of his choices in the “Top 10” series.

The Pro Game in HK

I haven’t been in Hong Kong long, but from reading your magazine I have been very impressed with the standard of junior golf here. There are clearly some out outstanding young players who may well have the opportunity to make it as a pro someday. However, what is the pro situation in Hong Kong? I presume there are pros at the clubs and driving ranges, but what about the touring professionals? Is there an active Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association? Jason Alexander Discovery Bay Editor responds: There most certainly is, Jason, and you can read about their progress from time to time within this magazine. The HKPGA runs a series of events throughout the year at courses in Hong Kong and China for their members (The HKPGA Order of Merit), while a number of pros also play in events on the Omega China Tour. In recent times, David Freeman, James Stewart, Derek Fung and Dominique Boulet, now a commentator for ESPN Star Sports, have played on the Asian Tour. For more information about the HKPGA visit their website www.hkpga.com.hk.

Where to get it?

I picked up a copy of HK Golfer on an Emirates flight from Dubai. I have to say I was expecting to find a parochial publication, but instead was treated to some first-class coverage on both golfing and non-golfing matters. The photography, too, was especially pleasing—few golf magazines these days devote enough space for really standout images. I would like to receive the magazine on a frequent basis, but I can’t afford to fly First Class every time. How can I get hold of future editions? Marcus Fisher Abu Dhabi Editor responds: Just the kind of letter we like to receive! Thank you, Marcus. To answer your question, yes, we do offer a worldwide subscription service. Just contact us at subscriptions@hkgolfermagazine. com. Of course, anyone who joins the Hong Kong Golf Association (www.hkga.com) automatically qualifies for a free subscription to the magazine.

One Country, Two Strategies

I am a member of a golf club in China and it is interesting to see that prices for the services there (caddies, carts, F&B etc) are on the increase, despite the current economic downturn. Unlike in Hong Kong, where membership prices at many private members’ clubs (including golf clubs) seem to be decreasing, the cost of golf on the mainland is rising quite dramatically— even taking the exchange rate into account. No longer is playing across the border the great value experience that people think it is. The cost of my membership aside, the amount We Want to Hear from You! I pay on transport and other miscellaneous expenses for just one round has become extortionate. As a result of the Have something so say about an article in HK Golfer or economic situation I have actually decided to play more a topic affecting golf in our area? Send your thoughts and golf, because that’s what makes me happy—and there’s not comments to letters@hkgolfermagazine.com. Starting a whole lot of happiness in the markets right now. However, with the June/July issue, I have decided that I’ll be playing more in Hong Kong and the winner of the best not at my own club on the mainland. letter will receive a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Rosé NV courtesy of Links Concept.

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Something for golfers who spend more time at their de sk t ha n t hen do on the course: t he USGA in association with World Golf Tour, the high definition online golf video ga me, is set to host the first-ever Virtual US Open Cha mpion sh ip. On May 25, golfers will be able to compete online at www.usopen.com in a four-week qualifying tournament, with the best performers going through to the championship rounds on June 22 and 23. Timed to follow the final round of the second Major of the year, the virtual edition will also be played over the notoriously difficult Bethpage Black Course. To get some practice in before qualifying begins visit www.wgt.com.

NUMBERS GAME

The number of Magnolia trees that line Magnolia Lane: 61 Number of players to win on Masters debut: 1 (Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979) Number of Masters Mark O’Meara played before winning his first in 1998: 15 Length, in yards, of Augusta National at the 1989 Masters: 6,905 Length, in yards, of Augusta National at the 1999 Masters: 6,985 Length, in yards, of Augusta National at the 2009 Masters: 7,445 Average score at the par-4 11th hole in the 2008 Masters (hardest hole): 4.35 Average score at the par-5 15th hole in the 2008 Masters (easiest hole): 4.76 Number of players who have won both the Par-3 Tournament and the Masters in the same year: 0

For information or to view the range please contact:

“ I was sitting in the living room watching TV and mum answered the phone. At first I didn’t understand the English but I caught the words ‘invite you’ and ‘Masters.’ I was so nervous I just hung up with a blank look on my face. ”

Name and address withheld

Impact Golf Management Group Tel: 25417452 Email: info@impactgolf.com.hk

– Japanese teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa on receiving news of his invitation to play at Augusta.

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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 TEE TIME

Bucking the Trend Collectors of high-end watches have much to be optimistic about as the auction market for rare timepieces remains buoyant BY TIM BOURNE, International Co-Head of Christie’s Watch Department

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here is no denying that the luxury sector is experiencing a sharp slowdown in discretionary spending as the global credit crisis deepens. And yet, the picture of the market for high-end watches is somewhat different. In fact, autumn watch auctions in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong and New York witnessed competitive bidding and achieved reassuring results with an average of 90% of watches offered sold. Here in Hong Kong, Christie’s December auction of important watches totalled HK$61.3 million—exceeding its pre-sale estimate. These results are particularly noteworthy considering the backdrop of uncertainty in the financial markets, and underscore that the demand for exceptional quality watches remains sturdy even in today’s challenging environment. The relative buoyancy of the luxury timepieces market is not surprising given that collectors are driven by passion and desire, and as such they are driven by opportunity. Watch collectors are a dedicated bunch and the most devoted are constantly looking for rare models to add to their collection. Often, when something exceptional comes to auction, collectors understand they may be facing a singular opportunity. Although in theory a watch is merely a functional device for telling the time, in reality the finest examples in what has become an increasingly sophisticated, international market represent an extraordinary blend of aesthetics and high 10

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technology. Like the manufacturers of classic cars, the world’s greatest watchmakers have become recognizable global brands. But where do new collectors start today and what should they buy? What makes one watch so much more valuable than another? In short, the rarer the item the better; and more than ever before condition is paramount. In general terms, however, collectors should buy watches that they personally find interesting and new collectors should start slowly, building up their knowledge through reading, studying websites and talking to experts in the field. Becoming knowledgeable on specific type of watch is a less intimidating prospect than it might appear. Many of the newer makers have comparatively small production runs—Richard Mille, for example, has produced 14 different models over the past eight years—so once you find a brand that suits your taste the research should be manageable. WWW.HKGA.COM

The principal factors affecting the value of a watch are complexity, rarity, condition and brand name while, in contrast to many other collectors’ items, age is much less of an issue. Though older watches do not generally command higher prices (partly because wristwatches are a relatively modern phenomenon), provenance is also key. Many high-end makers keep detailed records allowing you to literally follow a watch from the time of its production to its first owner, even showing information on when it was serviced. This ‘DNA’ of a watch is highly desirable information that can add significantly to the value of a piece. The general rule of thumb regarding complexity is that the more complications— functions in addition to telling of the time— that a watch has then the more valuable it is. Complications can include displaying the date, day and month, and if there is stopwatch then the timepiece is known as a chronograph. Additional functions add to the value since greater workmanship is involved and fewer watches are produced—and rarity is something that has always attracted collectors, whether it is paintings, porcelain, jewellery or watches. Buyers are prepared to pay a premium for rarity, and limited editions and ‘boutique specials’ are fiercely sought after at auction. One example of the rare ‘Panerai Luminor 1950 8 days’ recently fetched US$109,000, five times its original 2005 retail price. Condition is also crucial and a watch in a good, original state will always command a better price than one which is damaged or has been repaired or altered. For example, a watch with no wear and in mint condition with its box and papers can in some cases be worth triple that of a regular example.

Breguet Classique Grande Complication

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Audemars Piguet Repetition Minutes Blue-chip brands remain solid investments, and the Rolls Royce of the watch world is Patek Philippe. Limited production and controlled availability mean that when they appear at auction they command top prices. Other brands to watch include A. Lange & Söhne, whose watches have perhaps stood up the best in terms of prices over recent months. FP Journe, for its uniqueness and quality, is also a good brand to follow. New collectors should look to attain an example of popular models from these makers in platinum or white gold as they are generally produced in few numbers, making them rarer. With personal tastes changing and technical innovations resulting in ever-more sophisticated timepieces, this is a fascinating market on the move—even in today’s economy. But the essentials will remain the same—quality, rarity, complexity, condition and, of course, perfect timekeeping.

A. Lange & Sohne Golden Jubilee

What Else… With watches, new trends are emerging all the time. At Christie’s we are seeing a lot of women who want to wear something different investing in men’s vintage timepieces. And in China there has been a price growth of about 200% in early 19th century Chinese pocket watches as local collectors are keen to own a bit of history.

Patek Philippe

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Q+A

Clubhouse  Style, News and Stats

Courses for Sale Why bother joining a golf club when you can own one? Crown Golf, Britain’s largest golf course operator, has placed three of its 34 golf properties on the market—at bargain prices. One of the courses, Ecclestone Park Golf Club, is described as an attractive 18-hole 6,477 yard layout set in 125 acres close to Liverpool. The club features a 6,800 sq ft clubhouse and has more than 650 members. The asking price? £1.65m (approximately HK$18.7m). The Vale Golf Club (£2.25m) in Worcester, pictured, and The Chase Golf Club (£1.65m), in Staffordshire, are the other clubs up for sale. Interested parties should call Ben Allen at Humberts Leisure on +44-1962-835960 or visit www.humberts-leisure.com

I’M RETURNING TO THE GAME AFTER A TWO YEAR LAYOFF AND AM WONDERING IF THE GOLF BALLS LEFT IN MY BAG WILL STILL PERFORM OK. DO GOLF BALLS HAVE A SHELF LIFE?

We went straight to Titleist, makers of the number one ball in golf, with this one and this is what they had to say: “Today's Titleist golf balls can be safely stored for five years or even more, as long as they're kept away from excessive heat. Cars, for example, can get very hot during the summer and can dramatically shorten a ball's life. Normal indoor conditions should be fine for storage.” Golf balls do absorb moisture however, so it’s a good idea to avoid buying lake balls, as studies have shown that a ball submerged in water will fly considerably less distance than one that hasn’t. HK Golfer has heard of one particularly concerned individual who, worried that Hong Kong’s tropical climate will affect the playing characteristics of his golf balls, keeps them stored in his wine fridge, so he can control both temperature and humidity. The only thing in HK Golfer's wine fridge is wine, naturally.

Evans Qualifies for China Open Congratulations to Justin Evans on qualifying for April’s Volvo China Open. Hong Kong-based Evans, who arrived in the city 16 months ago, fired rounds of 70 and 71 during the qualifier at Discovery Bay Golf Club to book his place at the European Tour event in Beijing. 26-year-old Evans, who plays on the Korean Tour, said: “It means everything to me to play in the Volvo China Open. It’s awesome and hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s going to be a great experience and it’ll be a major stepping stone in my career.” James Stewart wasn’t so lucky, however. Despite a gutsy 68 in the final round, Fanling-based Stewart was edged out in a four-man playoff for the final spot. Liu Lok-tin finished as the best placed Hong Kong amateur in the field after he carded rounds of 73 and 77 to earn a share of 22nd. 12

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Evans lines up a putt at Discovery Bay WWW.HKGA.COM

 NAUTICAL NOTES

One Fine Stink

Mark Jolley considers the merits of the Hinckley Picnic Boat – a craft that is perfect for day use but one that is seldom seen in local waters

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here are three guidelines for buying a boat: 1) Don’t, at least not unless you have pots of money to burn; 2) Smaller boats are more fun than big boats; and 3) Unless hunting for divorce, get a boat your family will enjoy. This last rule especially applies to those spending long hours golfing. Notwithstanding the harsh reality of rule number one, thousands of boats are sold each year because boats are fun. Guys love gear. Nothing has more gear than boating. Shopping for a boat can be torturous but the decision is made easier in Hong Kong by virtue of the fact that most boats here are only used for one thing — day cruising. They take us to the beach or somewhere secluded, we picnic, we party; they bring us home. This agenda lends itself to power boating, or stink boats as my father preferred to call them. Many craft are up to the task but allow me introduce a type that is perfect for family day use and sadly under-represented in these waters — the Down East picnic boat. Down East refers to the northern portion of the coast of Maine, so-called in the days of sail because it is East and downwind from Boston. The best of the Down East picnic boats is generally reckoned to be that built by the Hinckley Company, naturally of Maine. To t he u n i n it iate d , the Hinckley looks like a throwback to the 1950s, and will strike most as less impressive than the highly styled Euro express cruisers that pack the marinas here in Hong Kong. To be sure, the Hinckley is throwback. She is modeled in the tradition of the lobster boats that still work the coast of Maine — honest, seaworthy boats. Howe ve r, d o n ’t l e t the classic lines fool you. WWW.HKGA.COM

Comparing the Hinckley to most Euro express cruisers is like comparing a Bentley to a Hyundai. There are several models but a new Hinckley 36 foot picnic will set you back more than US$600,000, far in excess of most 36 footers. As with a Bentley, there is a reason for this. In the world of boating, the name of Hinckley is respected for design, excellent build quality and flawless finish. Good design translates into an excellent ride quality and enjoyable boating. The Hinckley is light years ahead of your average Euro-styled cruisers in the technology department. For example, the 36 is powered by twin 300-horse Volvos coupled to twin Hamilton 292 jet drive squirters. She will run in two feet of water and spin on the plane just like the jet boats riding the rapids in New Zealand. Cruising speed is just shy of 30 knots. The jets make her quieter than a regular stink boat. She is built composite, like a Boeing, with outer layers of Kevlar/E-glass bonded to an inner skin of carbon fiber. The hull is laid up dry, vacuumed bagged and resin is injected into the layup. The result is a high-tech boat that’s light, nearly bullet-proof and will hold its value. It’s easy to handle too, thanks to Hinckley’s patented JetStick steering which makes docking a piece of cake, even in difficult conditions. Accommodations on the 36 are limited but there is ample room for 8-10 adults on a day cruise. There is a double V-berth up forward for overnight accommodations, a decent sized head (toilet) and a galley. In the pilothouse, there are two captain's chairs and an L-shaped settee with a varnished table. The cockpit features a full-beam forward-facing transom seat and two-seats facing aft. The joinery work in the cabin is exquisite. Needless to say, if you want to stand out from the Euro cruiser crowd, this Hinckley is well worth considering. There are currently no distributors for Hinckley in Asia but email yachting@hkgolfermagazine. com for import information

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 LIQUID ASSETS

That should make sure my email box is filled once again. My next missile is aimed directly at the small but persistent number of retailers and brokers who hail from the Bernie Madoff School of client relations. These scoundrels continue to quite irresponsibly and dishonestly advise clients that wine prices have not adjusted downwards during the current economic calamity. On the contrary, they insist that investment grade wine is basically the only asset class (apart from gold) that has not retreated to 2004 levels. They point to unchanged retail price-tags or tiny lots traded at auction to justify their arguments. Believe me, these are not indicative of the true market price or present values. If you try to liquidate your portfolio you will be horribly disappointed by the real prices available. If however you are a buyer, there are some real value propositions that are worth exploring. Whilst the bottom is probably not yet in place, I am seeing some excellent parcels of investment grade wine changing hands at what I would call fair prices, which is generally 30-50% down from the stupid levels of a year ago. Drop me an email if you need some advice. —Robert Rees

Beware the Bores

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now what I really find annoying? Supercilious, pompous wine snobs. I bet you all know or have met one. You know the type, the guy who apparently doesn’t admit to drinking anything except Lafite ’82 and who chooses off a restaurant wine list based on only one criteria: price, but usually only if someone else is paying. I should be immune to these distasteful, banal bores by now but I am not. Why the angst? Well you may recall that in the last edition of this magazine we offered our readers a great deal on Gralyn Margaret River Cabernet. The reaction was outstanding and I hope you all enjoy the wine. It is superb. I have another stunner for you below. However, I got the inevitable, nauseatingly myopic emails from a few who expressed dismay that the offer was not for French wine. Give me a break! Let me set the record straight from the outset. I am a huge fan and avid imbiber of French wine, especially the best of Bordeaux. It remains the yardstick by which I measure all wine. I consume wine daily but simply cannot afford to drink the best of Bordeaux on a regular basis given the extraordinary price increases in them over the past five years or so. I am not Bill Gates nor do I work for AIG. I don’t actually know anyone, including all my Gallic friends, who consume top French wines on a regular basis, but I know too many people who bluster on as if that’s all they ever drink. Good luck to those who can and do. I would be delighted to meet and discuss your cellar needs over a bottle or three. If you don’t mind, I will bring a fine, spicy Rhone Syrah. For those who only drink French, wake up and smell the coffee! There are a number of sensational and relatively inexpensive wines from all over the world that absolutely demand the attention of wine lovers everywhere. You can keep your heads buried firmly in the sand and pretend they do not exist but it is not particularly big or clever.

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Robert is founder of Wine Exchange Asia, a wine auction website serving customers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

SPECIAL READER OFFER For a very limited period we will be offering readers of this column Two Hands Deer in Headlights Shiraz 2002. It comes from the cellars of an enthusiastic collector and is a stunning wine. This is what Robert Parker, Jr. (a.k.a. The Maestro) had to say about it: “Eden Valley’s dense blue/purple-hued 2002 Shiraz Deer in Headlights is sensational. A spectacular nose of crème de cassis, blackberries, vanilla beans, and espresso is accompanied by a massive yet remarkably elegant shiraz with tremendous precision and oodles of fruit and glycerine. Stunningly proportioned, fresh, and lively for its size...”—95 points, RPJ, Wine Advocate 155, Oct 2004, drink 2004-2014. At one point this brooding beauty was trading above US$120 per bottle. We have 20 dozen at only US$70 per bottle including delivery. Minimum order is 12 bottles. To place an order, or if you have any other enquiries, please email Robert at wine@hkgolfermagazine.com

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 SINGLE MALTS

A Delightful Discovery

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hen I was asked to write about some of my favou r ite m a lt whiskies I began to consider which one should be given pride of place and very soon encountered the problem that all namers of favourites have; be it films, books, foods or women, there is rarely only one. A new approach was required and, given that this may be read by seasoned connoisseurs or earnest novices, I decided that a reflection on the development of my own whisky tastes and experiences would perhaps provoke nostalgia in the former group, point members of the latter in new directions and also assist my own reflections on personal favourites. T h e S c o t s l i ke a tipple and despite early experimentation with beer, white spirits and exotic cocktails we all have a visceral need to be whisky drinkers. However, like all selfevident truths, it’s never that straightforward. Whisky is an acquired taste and in the late 1970s there were many factors influencing a young man embarking on a life long journey of delightful discovery. I had listened to my father and I knew that Grouse was making serious inroads into Bells’ domination of the market and that the English were total philistines who liked something named after the tyrants who dominated the schools that we had recently left behind. To this day, I doubt whether I have ever sampled a Teachers as that condemnation, unjust as it was, has lingered in my consciousness for over three decades. Armed with my youthful knowledge I well remember my first purchase of a Grouse and lemonade. I’ll touch upon my long and continuing road to the discovery of the merits of a “wee drop of water” in a later review but I did start at a low point. However, from there I discovered the delights of the deluxe whiskies, dominated at the time by Johnny Walker. I am certain that many a WWW.HKGA.COM

wizened barman was mightily amused by my “Not too much lemonade now, I don’t want to ruin the flavour”. Thankfully this state of affairs did not last for too long as I heard of the mysteries of single malts and was assured that adulterating them with anything but the aforementioned “wee drop of water” was not acceptable. However, the malt whisky market of the seventies was much removed from that which we know now. There were any number of malts available but asking for a single malt in any but the smartest of lounge bars would result in the question “Glenfiddich or Glenmorangie?” as they dominated the market. Today both distilleries supply a wide variety of styles and ages of product but they retain their own underlying characteristics and these, particularly to a young man, were so different as to raise questions as to their common classification. Glenfiddich 12 year old was my first taste of a single malt whisky and it is as gentle an introduction to usquabae as a man could ever wish for. At this stage, I’d like to digress and mention a particularly personal opinion on enjoying fine whisky. I like to take mine with air. By that I mean that whisky should be served in small quantities in wide mouthed glasses that allow the taste and aroma to be savoured. Quite honestly—and this will delight those who comment on our national parsimony—I believe that the bottom of the glass should just be slightly more than “dirty” with the malt of my choice and never the real “half full” glass that one associates with a whisky drinker’s demeanour. I am not advocating any limit on the number of dirty glasses. Glenfiddich, I believe, is an ideal beginning for anyone new to the delights of single malts. If an encounter with some of Scotland’s more muscled malts can be akin to the pummelling of a Swedish massage, sampling this delightful spirit engenders all the quiet and comfort of a gentle temple rubbing received while relaxing on a favourite armchair and invites the drinker to light a cigar and contemplate life’s munificence. However, it would be doing Glenfiddich a huge injustice to label it solely as a beginner’s malt. It invites a lifelong association and indeed in fiction, it was the enduring favourite of Endeavour Morse, the Oxford-educated detective. Glenmorangie in Ross-shire distil perhaps the most instantly recognizable of single malts and it is definitely a whisky that is more likely to be found in the cabinet of a seasoned connoisseur, as its unique flavour is delightful in a much more forceful manner. It doesn’t as much launch a frontal assault as linger long after the palate has declared a premature victory. In today’s introduction, I do not have the space to do justice to these two giants of malt whisky but they shall be given the dedicated review that they deserve in a future edition. I hope that you will join me next time as we head west to Islay. —John Bruce HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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UBS’ Last Hurrah UBS has confirmed that they will be completing their five year commitment to the Hong Kong Open by title-sponsoring the 51st edition of the co-sanctioned event at Fanling, which takes place 12-15 November 2009. Under the Swiss bank’s sponsorship, prize money for the event has risen from approximately US$700,000 to US$2.5 million. Parallel Media Group, the tournament promoters, has started preliminary discussions with potential new sponsors. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHARLES MCLAUGHLIN

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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junior golf

HKGA divots Handicapping and Course Rating Seminars The HKGA has invited Scott Hovde, the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) manager of course rating and handicap education, to conduct seminars on the 18th and 19th of May. Handicap Seminar: Olympic House, Monday 18th May, morning, HK$400 Course Rating Seminar: The Hong Kong Golf Club, Tuesday 19th May, HK$625

If you would like to attend please download the applicationfrom www.hkga.com and return to Dolla Chui before Monday 4th May.

HK National Junior Team Announced The following players have been selected as members of the National Junior Team: Tiffany Chan, Michelle Cheung, Jason Hak, Cheria Heng, Stephanie Ho, Nicola Inge, Marcus Lam, Steven Lam, Liu Loktin, Shinichi Mizuno, Terrence Ng, Oliver Roberts, Charles Stone, Anthony Tam, Kitty Tam, Sibo Yan, Sihao Yan.

MacGregor Continues Championship Sponsorship The HKGA is delighted to announce that MacGregor will be continuing their sponsorship of the upcoming Hong Kong Junior and Senior Close Championships as well as the Hong Kong Junior Open Championship, which is to be played in August. “MacGregor has proved to be an exceptional sponsor of HKGA championship events throughout the years and I’d like to thank them for their continuing support,” said HKGA chief executive Iain Valentine. MacGregor HK Championships 2009 HK Junior Close: Championship: HK Senior Close Championship: HK Open Junior Championship:

14-15 April, Discovery Bay GC 6-8 May, Discovery Bay GC 6-7 August, Hong Kong GC

AWA Charity Golf Tournament The American Women’s Association Charity Golf Tournament will take place on Tuesday 21 April at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen. Open to all, the event costs HK$2,200 for individual entry (HK$8,000 for a team of four) and includes a round on the Duval Course, breakfast, lunch, dinner buffet, awards ceremony and return transportation. Please visit www.awa.org.hk for more details.

Win HK$20,000 worth of AHEAD merchandise for your Golf Society With innovative and creative new approaches to ornamentation, Ahead has earned the reputation and recognition as the premier choice for headwear, apparel and accessories through its premium quality, attention to detail, value and innovation. Founded in the USA in 1995, golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player all wear Ahead headwear exclusively while on the course. US Open winner Retief Goosen wears Ahead apparel and Ahead headwear. Ahead is an official licensee for the Ryder Cup, US Open, US PGA Championship, Players Championship and the PGA Tour. Competition: Open to all HKGA-registered societies, answer the following questions correctly for a chance to win a range of shirts and caps* as giveaways at your next society golf event. 1.Which US Open winner wears Ahead apparel and headwear? 2.Ahead is an official licensee of which famous team matchplay competition? Send your answers to competitions@hkgolfermagazine.com Closing date of entries is 15 May.

*Value of the prize is limited to HK$20,000 worth of product 18

HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

Sponsorship Boost for HKGA Juniors

WWW.HKGA.COM

L

EFG Bank and HKGA partner up for youth success

o cal junior golf received an “enormous boost” in February with the announcement that EFG Bank will sponsor the HKGA’s Junior Development Programme to the tune of HK$3 million over three years. The sponsorship agreement comes after a year of outstanding results by young Hong Kong players, which includes Tiffany Chan’s tie for fourth at the Callaway World Junior Championship, Steven Lam’s second place at the R&A Junior Open and Jason Hak’s sensational performance at the UBS Hong Kong Open in November where he became the youngest ever player to make the halfway cut at a European Tour event. “It’s an enormous boost for junior golf,” declared Iain Valentine, chief executive of the HKGA. “Hong Kong junior golfers have enjoyed spectacular success over the past couple of years and we will be able to build on that. The sponsorship will help increase Hong Kong’s exposure at international tournaments, both in Asia and further afield. It is tremendous news.” Mr Valentine added that the sponsorship WWW.HKGA.COM

money would also translate into more local competitions for less experienced juniors. “Tournament familiarity for young golfers is very important for the long term success of golf in Hong Kong, so we’re going to be increasing the number of events on the calendar thanks to the support of EFG,” he said. With the professional tours, particularly in the United States, witnessing a dramatic decline in sponsorship in the wake of the global financial meltdown, EFG’s support couldn’t have come at a better time – for both the HKGA and themselves. “This is a great opportunity for us because we believe in investing in the future,” said Albert Chiu, the private bank’s deputy chief executive for the Asia Pacific region. “We’re not like banks with bad investments; comparatively, we haven’t suffered as a result of sub-prime and we’re still expanding our operations here in Hong Kong. “The sponsorship is the right thing to do and it’s the right time to do it. In a good market we might not have had the chance to sponsor because of other banks’ wish to do so,” said Mr Chiu. “There are many great junior golfers in Hong Kong now and we hope we can help to continue that with the younger players coming up through the ranks.” Mr Chiu added that EFG regards the partnership with the HKGA as a long term endeavour. “We have every intention to continue [the sponsorship] after the three years are up. We’re very excited about it.” HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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HKGC Championship

rules

Ask the Rules Expert With Dr Brian Choa, Chairman, Rules & Decisions, Hong Kong Golf Association

Q

Am I allowed to move hazard stakes (either lateral or water) if my ball lies within the hazard and they interfere with my stance or swing? What about Out of Bound stakes? Can I move them? Thanks.

A

Hazard stakes may be moved whether your ball is inside or outside the hazard, as they are movable obstructions. However, be warned that many clubs have a local rule that deems such stakes to be immovable. In such circumstances, you have a free drop if the ball is outside the hazard, but no free relief if it is inside. Out of Bounds stakes can never be moved as they are deemed to be fixed. (See under Definition of “Out of Bounds�).

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Send it to rules@hkgolfermagazine.com

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Got a rules question?

Ra

t is surely an anomaly that Doug Williams has not featured prominently at birdie on 11, but an uncharacteristic 3-putt on the the Hong Kong Golf Club Championship before now. Doug is a former 12th green, coupled with a bold 12-footer holed by Hong Kong Amateur Close champion, the current HK Mid-Amateur Max saw the champion go 4-up again. Close champion, the HKGC's stroke play champion and then, in this Surely this was the end, but no, there was year's Club Championship, he led the qualifiers by several strokes with a more excitement to come. Max 3-putted the fine 36-hole score of 141. With defending champion Max Wong not fully short 13th to lose a hole, and after neither player recovered from an unfortunate accident in which he broke his left arm, Doug entered managed to birdie the par-5 14th, which both the match play stages as the hot favourite. He duly got to the semi-final where he met are capable of reaching in two, a brilliant birdie former double winner Eric Saxvik. Theirs was a thrilling roller-coaster of a match. by Doug at the tricky 15th meant the game was Doug came close to birdieing the first three holes, and was 2-under par and 2-up. very much alive. Some ragged play saw him go 3-down to Eric after 10 holes, Eric having played However, having driven slightly left and into them flawlessly. A birdie at the 11th put Doug back on course and a further birdie at the water hazard in the morning round, Doug the 18th, after Eric had finished the last four holes rather weakly, allowed Doug to hit his tee shot at the 15th into the trees on the turn defeat into victory. right. From a bad lie in the rough, Doug mis-hit In the other semi-final, Donald Nimmo, whose elegant swing and effortless his second into the ditch and could do no better power has catapulted him in recent years to rank among the best players in the than a six, which meant Max was the champion Club, met Max. Donald hardly put a foot wrong and was level par after 16 holes, for the a second time. That Max was able to win only to find himself 2-down with two to play. Max finished with a 68 to propel against such strong opposition despite not being himself into a second successive final. fully fit attests to his quality as a player. Max's passage to the last four was by no means uneventful. The Junior Championship evergreen Terry Collins had taken him to the 20th hole in the first round, where Max made one of the most amazing recoveries in recent This is the competition for players with handicaps of 10 and over, although the entrants tend to be Club Championship history to par the hole and win the match. After anything but "junior"! This year's final was a repeat cold-duffing his tee shot at this par-3, he conjured a great pitch to 15ft of last year's: holder Gibson Bailey played former and managed to roll in the par save. Terry, who had been on the green champion Ernie Evans. Ernie dominated the match in regulation, was shocked into three-putting the green and lost by the all day, lunched 2-up and ran out the winner on narrowest of margins. the 15th green. Now 77, Ernie looks and plays like The final was played on a warm, muggy day with the wind coming a player a dozen years younger and remains a remarkable golfer. He is undoubtedly the player out of the south. Max started well and was 2-up after seven holes, but his of the 2008-9 season at the Hong Kong Golf Club, play became a little uncertain after that and he did well to go into lunch allhaving finished first and second in several other square. The first nine in the afternoon was decisive. A series of missed shots events over the past few months. and putts saw Doug plunge to 4-down at the turn. He got one back with a

Q

I was playing on a wet day in England last month and on one hole I hit my ball into a bunker that was completely flooded. There was nowhere I could drop within the bunker so I dropped the ball outside it at the

Copies of the R&A’s Rules of Golf are available free of charge to all HKGA subscribers. Collect your copy from the HKGA office (Suite 2003, Olympic House, 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay.

uare

I

STORY BY DR BRIAN CHOA

s Sq

Wong shows class in final against Williams

A

I am afraid your playing partner was right. When your ball is lying in casual water in a bunker, you are permitted to take “maximum available relief�, such as by going from deeper to shallower water, if complete relief not nearer the hole is not available. When even that is not possible, you have to drop out under penalty (Rule 25-1b(ii)). Note that you do not drop at the nearest point of relief, but (as far back as you like) on a line connecting the hole (flagstick) and your ball's original position in the bunker, under a penalty of one stroke.

Time

Max Defends Club Title in Style

nearest point of relief. My playing partner said I would have to add a penalty stroke because a bunker is a hazard and I wasn't entitled to a free drop. But I had no choice. I couldn't have hit a ball submerged under six inches of water. Who is right?

Sports Road

Hong Kong Football Club

ESCAPADE Sports 1/F Yee Hing Building 19 Leighton Road Causeway Bay Opening Hours: Mon - Thurs 11.00am - 9.00pm Fri - Sun 10.00am - 10.00pm


junior golf

junior training

Diocesan Team Up for Schools’ Triumph

Post-Round Practice In this, the final installment of a three part series on managing competitve play, Brad outlines the importance of analyzing your stats so you know what to work on post-round.

Roberts and Chan Excel in Individual Categories PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK LEUNG

By Brad Schadewitz National Junior Coach

S

olid displays by Tiffany Chan, Kelly Kung and Jonathan Yeung enabled Diocesan to win the Hong Kong Schools Team Championship at The Hong Kong Golf Club late February. In a closely fought round over the New Course, Diocesan, who finished third in the event last year, carded a three-player total of 227 to pip Shatin College and Kiangsu Chekiang by two shots. West Island School 1 placed fourth, a further seven shots adrift. Defending champions Hong Kong International School couldn’t match their efforts of a year ago and finished in fifth spot. 15-year-old Chan, whose stellar form over the past 12 months has won her a number of trophies at both junior and senior level, fired a 3-over-par 73, which clinched her victory in the Girls 15-18 age division, while Kung, who plays off a handicap of 10, impressed with her 78. Yeung’s steady 76 sealed the team win and gave the 14-year-old the individual title in the Boys 13-14 age bracket. Round-of-the-day honours went to Oliver Roberts (Shatin College) who carded a fine 71 to coast to victory in the Boys 15-18 age category. Long-hitting Roberts, a two-handicapper, put on a great display of ball striking to beat current Hong Kong Amateur Close champion Steven Lam and Liu Lok-tin by three strokes. Cheria Heng (Kiangsu Chekiang) was another impressive individual winner; a 75 giving her a six shot margin of victory over Mimi Ho and Michelle Cheung in the Girls 13-14 age division.

Learn from the pros

Cheria Heng

If you have ever attended the UBS Hong Kong Open and watched the players on the range, you’ll have noticed just how much time they spend working on their games after they’ve finished their round. If they have had problems hitting a particular shot out on the course that day, they will try and work it out afterwards. The majority of tour pros keep their stats, so they know what to concentrate on. This helps them make the best use of their practice time. Even if they’ve played well, they’ll still hit balls to help maintain their feel.

Oliver Roberts

Training aids

The use of training aids is also widespread on tour, and they are particularly useful when it comes to working on alignment. Alignment is a key fundamental and it is extremely important to get it right. Virtually all of the players lay down something on the ground for alignment when they are hitting balls. They don't want to fall into any bad habits that could affect their ball striking. The pros don’t want to fall into any bad habits that could affect their ballstriking—and neither do you.

Log your stats

One of the most important things I tell all the Hong Kong team to do is to keep a record of their stats so they know what to practice after their round. Keeping a log of the number of fairways you hit, your greens in regulation percentage, the number of up-and-downs you make and your putting average is a great way to let you know which part of your game to focus on.

The winning Diocesan team

Final Thought

So the lesson for the average player is this: after your round, head to the range and use the time to really work on your game. Use your stats to identify your problem areas and if you’re not sure how you can fix the problem consult a qualified PGA professional to help speed up the learning process and start practicing like the best players in the world.

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Steven Lam, pictured above, keeps a log of his statistics whenever he plays.

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Team Event Scores 1 Diocesan Girls/Boys 2= Shatin College Kiangsu Chekiang 4 West Island School 1 5 HK International School

“The players who will improve the most are the players who can sit down and look objectively at their own game, find their weaknesses and work on them to get better.”

WWW.HKGA.COM 

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  2009 HK GOLFER・APR/MAY    

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(All) Weather Girls Ginger Mak (foreground) and Tiffany Chan showing the kind of commitment that has made them two of the best golfers in Hong Kong by practicing their putting amid the fog that resulted in the rescheduling of the Ladies Close Amateur Championship of Hong Kong. The event will now be played on 21-22 May at The Hong Kong Golf Club. PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEX JENKINS

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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feature

Five-time Open champion, three-time President’s Cup captain, winner of over 100 professional events — and for one afternoon last November, HK Golfer’s teammate in a friendly betterball game STORY BY ALEX JENKINS

A Round with a

Legend:Peter

Thomson

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HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

WWW.HKGA.COM

Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Peter Thomson, Fanling, Captions UBS Hong KongCaptions Open

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few days prior to the start of the UBS Hong Kong Open, I made my way to Shek O Country Club with what I thought was a pretty straightforward assignment: grab a quick interview with Thomson over lunch and then go out and follow him for a few holes as he tackled the picturesque course in the company of old friend and club captain Jim Mailer, Shek O general manager Paul Brown and Iain Roberts, Head Professional at The Hong Kong Golf Club. It’ll make a nice little story, we at HK Golfer thought. Have a chat with one of the game’s true greats, check WWW.HKGA.COM

out his play, and maybe get him to sign a couple of past issues of the magazine for posterity. Nice. But on being introduced to Thomson, a triple Hong Kong Open winner who was in town as a guest of the championship sponsors to help mark the event’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Mailer had news. “Iain Roberts can’t make it today, he’s tied up at Fanling,” he explained. “Alex, would you like to join us?” It was like handing over the keys of an Aston Martin DB9 to a 15-year-old kid and asking if he fancied taking it out for a spin. “Yes, very much, thank you,” I replied, trying to keep a Joker-like grin from forming at my lips. I didn’t have my own clubs with me and wasn’t dressed for golf but that was beside the point. I was going to play with the greatest Australian golfer in history — I didn’t need custom-fit sticks and a pair of softspikes to enjoy the occasion. A set of 10-year-old ultra-whippy graphite-shafted rental clubs and street shoes would more than suffice. Thomson, who turns 80 in August, rarely plays these days. Busy with his flourishing course design company, whose portfolio includes the Eden Course at Fanling and the much more recent Clearwater Bay renovation, he claims to tee it up only once a month on average. “It’s my hands,” he explains. “As I’ve gotten older I’ve lost a lost of the feel. It’s hard work now.” Like me, Thomson hadn’t brought his own clubs and was borrowing a set that belonged to Brown’s son. On inspecting the driver – a new, jumbo-headed, titanium-enriched affair – he chuckles to himself and quips: “Not like they were in my time. I can never get over how light they make equipment nowadays.” Not that that seemed to matter in the slightest. Starting off on the par-4 3rd (we decided to skip the first two holes because of concerns over light) Thomson rips a drive down the rightcentre of the fairway, about 220-yards from the tee. Any doubts I might have had over his current abilities were immediately extinguished. While his swing is a touch jerkier than the sweet, uncomplicated action he used to capture titles from the 50s to the 80s with, make no mistake: the man can still play. It’s on the greens, however, where Thomson really excels. Gripping the putter incredibly lightly, his stroke appears every bit as fluid as it was in his heyday. Every putt rolls pure and every putt challenges the hole. But, agonizingly, too many catch the lip and fail to drop. Looking heavenward after a 15-footer for a half horseshoes out, it’s obvious that Thomson’s competitive juices still flow. This might just be a midweek knockaround but his determination to win hasn’t left him. Nevertheless, after four holes we’re three down to the locals who have played very solidly indeed. I have contributed zilch and it’s starting to get a little embarrassing. HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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To draw his attention away from my lacklustre game, I get Thomson talking about his favourite subject: links golf. “Golf, like sailing, needs wind,” says the man who, in 1965, bested a field which included Nicklaus, Palmer and Player to lift the Claret Jug for a record fifth time. (Tom Watson would later match the feat). “What I don’t really like about the courses the professionals play today is that they’re all the same. You can play one week in America and the next in China and

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the conditions are the same. It’s the same type of grass and they play the same way - too soft. There’s no challenge in that. Links courses, if prepared properly, are firm and bare and wind is normally a factor. It’s the purest form of the game there is.” The modern ball – and the distance it travels – also worries him. Brought up on the classic sandbelt tracks of Melbourne, Thomson, who reckons he only drove it 230-240-yards in his prime, believes technology has gone too far – at least for the professionals. “A lot of skill has been taken out of the game because of the ball and the sheer number of dimples it has now,” he says, co-incidentally, after I hit my first decent drive of the round. “It isn’t affected by the wind as much, it flies so far and it’s easy to spin, which makes the short game a bit one dimensional. You don’t often see players running shots up to the flag anymore. Royal Melbourne is the best course we have in Australia, but it’s almost defenceless nowadays. Limit the number of dimples and you solve the problem. But having said that, it’s hard to argue with the results. The best player is still winning.” It might sound like Thomson is stuck in the past, keen for the game to return to the days when courses were less manicured and persimmon-headed drivers were de rigueur. But he’s not. Quietly-spoken yet thoroughly engaging, intelligent and quick-witted, he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the sport. He is simply a defender of golf’s heritage. His thoughts on slow play and the lack of knowledge surrounding the rules are cases in point. “We used to take three hours and 15 minutes when playing in threeballs,” he remembers. “[Bobby] Locke was accused of being a slow player but he would take three hours and 20 minutes. Now a player doesn’t even have to know the rules because they’re encouraged to call in rules officials at every turn. We never got into tangles; the players used to watch each other. Rule 6.7, which governs undue delay, should be paramount. If a player says ‘I want a ruling because I don’t know what to do’ then 15 minutes passes before it’s sorted out and he plays his shot. If that isn’t slow play I don’t know what is.” Thomson takes an enormous interest in the state of the game in his home country, which is not surprising given that he was president of the Australian PGA for 32 years (from 1962 to 1994). And the prognosis isn’t positive. “I have mixed feelings about the development of professional golf in Asia,” says the Victorian, who was instrumental in the foundation of the Asian professional circuit in the 1960s. “I’m delighted that the tournaments have increased in stature, but the Australian Tour has suffered WWW.HKGA.COM

as a direct result. We used to have at least 15 events played during October, November and December, but now we really only have three big weeks. Still, the competition for players and sponsors is huge, which, generally speaking, is healthy for the game. Australia will take care of its problems in its own way.” Listening to professional golfers talking about other professional golfers is always insightful, and Thomson doesn’t disappoint. After complimenting Brown on yet another long, straight drive (although we’re playing them off the stick, both Brown and Mailer are making a mockery of their seven handicaps and WWW.HKGA.COM

have extended their lead in the match to 5-up), he starts talking on the importance of rhythm. “[Sam] Snead was the best. I used to love watching him play,” he says. “He was incredibly fit, too. People talk about how fit Tiger Woods is, but Snead was just as fit and incredibly flexible as well.” Of the modern breed of player, fellow countryman Geoff Ogilvy and Andres Romero impress Thomson the most. “Certainly, Ogilv y is t he most likely Australian to succeed,” he says. “Adam Scott has flattered to deceive, but I do like the look of Ogilvy. And what happened to Romero at

Hong Kong Connection (clockwise from above): Thomson unleashes a drive down the 3rd at Shek O; a three-time HK Open winner; giving young amateur Steven Lam a few words of encouragement before the second round

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the masters

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On Game’s the

Greatest Stage

Photography by Rob Brown / Martin Miller

One Fine Day: With HK Golfer Publisher Charles McLaughlin (above); checking out his borrowed driver on the Shek O terrace

the Open when Harrington won in 2007 (the Argentinean struck the concrete bank of the Barry Burn with his second shot to the 17th at Carnoustie to make double bogey and finish outside the playoff by a shot) was the unluckiest thing I’ve ever seen on the golf course. I expect him to win an Open some day.” As we were on the subject of the Open at Carnoustie I ask Thomson his thoughts on what happened to Jean Van de Velde, HK Golfer’s playing editor, at the 72nd hole in 1999 when he made triple bogey to fall into a playoff, which he would end up losing to Paul Lawrie. Wasn’t he even unluckier than Romero? Thomson pauses to consider the question. “ Wel l , h e wa s c e r t a i n l y u n lu c k y,” h e acknowledges. “But in that position, I would have played the hole a lot differently.” While Thomson’s record at the Open in unmatched, there has always been a slight undercurrent of criticism that his victory at St Andrews in 1955, where he joined James Braid, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen and Bobby Locke as the only men in the 20th Century to defend the championship, came against a weakened field, with many of the best American players of the time failing to make the trans-Atlantic trip to play. Thomson, clearly used to hearing the snipe, replies: “[Ben] Hogan wasn’t there, that’s true, but Cary Middlecoff, the leading US money-winner was, as was Byron Nelson and Ed Furgol, the US Open champion. Those who stayed away generally did so because they didn’t think they could win.” Perhaps inspired by the memories of his success, Thomson finds another gear and we

start winning holes. After being five down with only five to play, a Thomson birdie at the 14th after a delightful pitch, a solid par at the 15th and an unlikely birdie of my own at the 16th means we’ve clawed our way back into the match. Dormie two. What happens next is vintage Thomson. At the 17th, a shortish par-3, he fires a beautifully flighted 5-iron that draws perfectly against a fade wind and lands just 10-feet from the hole. A solid par from Mailer means he needs to hole it to keep the match alive and he does, the ball dropping into the centre of the cup for the best birdie of the day. Dormie one. It’s all set for a grandstand finish, and with the opposition in trouble and both of us safely on the green in regulation, a tied match is looking the most likely prospect. But then Mailer, from a terrible lie in a greenside bunker, plays a remarkable shot to seven feet and when neither Thomson nor I are successful with our birdie efforts, he sinks the putt for a half and a 1-up victory. As we make our way back up the hill towards the clubhouse for some much-needed refreshment, I thank Thomson for the game and apologize for my ragged play. “Nonsense,” he replies. “We nearly got them at the end there, but that’s beside the point. When you reach my age and can still take enjoyment out of the game that makes it a great day.”

A Hong Kong golfer receiving an invitation to the Masters? Maybe not this year, but the chance of one of our own teeing it up at Augusta in the not too distant future isn’t as unlikely as it might sound

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Photography by Rob Brown / Martin Miller

he recent announcement that the winner of the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship, to be played this October at Mission Hills Golf Club, will earn a coveted berth in the first Major of 2010 not only illustrates the growing importance that the golfing powers place in this part of the world, it represents a golden opportunity for Hong Kong’s young talents to make it to the most glamorous stage in world golf. The AAC, an event devised by Augusta National in harness with the R&A and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, will comprise a minimum of two of the top ranked golfers from each of the 32 APGC member countries in 32

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a maximum field of 120 amateur players. Beat the finest amateur golfers on the continent and you’ve earned that all important invite. Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong in February, Billy Payne, Chairman of the Masters Tournament, said: “We are extremely proud to announce that the winner of the Asian Amateur Championship will receive an invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament. This is an extension of the initiative we announced last April regarding the use of the Masters name, and reputation, to help grow the game of golf around the world.” The winner and runner-up at the AAC will also earn a place in International Final Qualifying for the Open Championship. WWW.HKGA.COM

Hong Kong currently has three worldranked players: 16-year-old Steven Lam, the current Close champion, 15-year-old Jason Hak, who became the youngest player to ever make the cut a European Tour event with his standout performance at last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open and long-hitting Liu Loktin, 15, arguably the most improved golfer in Hong Kong over the past year. While there is still time for other players to make it onto the rankings before the field is determined in the middle of August, Lam and Hak, at 749th and 1505th respectively, look odds-on favourites to seal their place at Mission Hills. Liu, currently ranked 2176th, has an anxious wait ahead of him, but if he can maintain his position the WWW.HKGA.COM

omens look good that he will join them. Of course, gaining a place in the AAC field is one thing; going on to win the tournament is quite another. And with players from the golfing powerhouses of Korea, Japan and Thailand competing, Hong Kong’s representatives will certainly have their work cut out. But the fact that they have the opportunity already shows the mammoth strides that golf has taken in Hong Kong in recent times. A tough ask, certainly. But the chances that a golfer from Hong Kong will one day tee it up alongside the elite of the game at arguably the most famous course in the game just got a whole lot better.

Amen to Amen: The 11th and 12th holes at Augusta National form two-thirds of the most famous stretch in golf; [inset] Chairman of the Masters Tournament Billy Payne in Hong Kong

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masters picks

the masters

A Masterpiece of Design

Time for a Classic Look for Mickelson and Ogilvy to star at Augusta

5th last group: Sergio Garcia (Sp), Bernhard Langer (GER) 4th last group: Robert Karlsson (Swe), Retief Goosen (RSA) 3rd last group: Paul Casey (Eng), Ryuji Imada (Jpn) 2nd last group: Tiger Woods (US) , Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) Last group: Phil Mickelson (US), Camillo Villegas (Col). In the end, I believe Lefty will see them all off. He is a player that has developed into a true course specialist. He loves the greens, thrives on the atmosphere and of course that exquisite southern cooking. Phil told me in November that his whole year will be built around the Masters and that’s a good enough hint for my money. The current best price of 10/1 is value. 34

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As long as he doesn’t try to copy Camillo’s “Spiderman” green reading technique, Phil’s experience will win the day. Villegas will certainly make his mark on the Majors this year and I suspect will ‘show’ at Augusta, but he may need a couple of close shaves before he lands one. If you are tempted by the 33/1, take it each way. I also can’t escape the feeling that Tiger will just be too under prepared for this one. It’s just a hunch and at 5/2, I think it’s a fair bet that he’ll fall short. Put him down for tied second or third. At first glance, Geoff Ogilvy might seem to fit the Johnson/Immelman mold but that would belie the truth. Probably the in-form golfer in the world right now, this guy is a stud. A top-5 finish is the least we should expect from this year’s Mercedes and Matchplay champion. The odds are shortening so take anything around the 20/1 mark. Sergio features on the basis that he is clearly a big event performer. He certainly raises his game, but he’s not Masters material, I think. We’ll see one too many putts lip out to put him the frame. So let’s hope for shirtsleeve weather, the sound of birds chirping merrily over the broadcaster’s respectfully hushed tones and a corker of a fight to the finish. We all know the back-nine so well, having played it again and again in our minds. Let’s have no more dull Zealous Zachs or Clever Trevors knocking in pars. I want the winner to have to eagle 13 and 15, scramble a good bogie after splashing in at 16 and to win with a pure 20-footer on 18. I want it the way it used to be. I want a Magical Masters —Archie Albatross

Final Thought Over the winter, I took some ante-post action on Ryuji Imada at 200/1. Outright winning may be a stretch, but a ‘Top Asian’ bet could be profitable. Paul Casey could be good punt in the ‘Top European’ markets and followers of this column will know that Robert Karlsson is consistency personified and represents a sound alternative. Both are at 40/1 outright; a lucrative return would compensate nicely for their lack of glamour.

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h e f irst a nd f i ne st Major of t he year occ urs ever y spring in the lush, verdant hills of Georgia. Every golf fan welcomes the uncluttered TV coverage showing Augusta National’s pristine fairways with dappled sunshine breaking through the pine trees and the glorious splashes of bright dahlia and rhododendron bushes. It’s always said that the professional golf season doesn’t really start until the Masters. Not really. The appetizers at Pebble Beach and Riviera are tasty enough, t he qu ic k s w i n g t h rou g h Southern Florida helps to take the edge off, but only the green, green grass of Augusta provides adequate nourishment for the true golf fan after the winter break. And what a feast it has always been. The memories are more consistently vivid than any other event; Seve Ballesteros twice short-gaming his way to glory, Old Man Nicklaus winning in ’86, Tiger’s record-setting debut in ’97 and the unsurpassable drama of his last-roll ‘Nike’ moment in 2005. You’d be forgiven for assuming that only the Greats can win at Augusta… But hold on! What, by thunder, has happened in the last couple of years? Green Jackets for Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman? Is anyone really going to cancel Easter for them? Surely, it’s time for a return to the glory years. So this year’s betting preview comes with a healthy dose of wishful thinking that the glamour will return to the Masters. For those who have already diarized uninterrupted viewing in the Asian early morning of Monday April 13th, here’s my predicted line up of the last few pairings:

Augusta’s playability for golfers of average ability is what makes it truly special

hat do you think you’d shoot around Augusta National if given the chance to play? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves or the other members of our regular fourball—typically after a wee tipple in the clubhouse post-round. It’s only natural of course: as golf fans, having watched hundreds of hours of Masters coverage over the years, we recognize the holes as easily as those on our home course. For instance, we know that on 16 we should stay away from the water and target the right centre of the green because the strong contours of the putting surface will feed the ball back down toward that Sunday pin-placement. We know that a raking draw off the tee at the par-5 13th will give us an extra 20 yards of roll, allowing us a better chance of getting home in two. And we all know that it doesn’t matter what club we hit on the par-3 12th, it’s up to the golfing gods to decide whether our ball clears Rae’s Creek or not. It’s just a shame that so few of us will ever get the experience it at first hand. Aug usta National was designed by A lister Mackenzie, with help from Bobby Jones, the amateur legend and bot h men believed that the course should be demanding for the professional player yet not intimidating to the recreational golfer. Jones once said that one of the g re at s t re n g t h s of t he course was that while pros were always in danger of succumbing to disaster, average members and their guests might well shoot some of their best rounds ever — t hat a seasoned 18-handicapper, for example, might have a good day and shoot 85. WWW.HKGA.COM

Like all courses, Augusta has changed since it first opened in 1933. Holes have been reconfigured (most notably at the aforementioned 16th, which used to be an easy 145-yard hole fronted by an inconspicuous ditch), the greens have been re-turfed with ultra-fast and silky bentgrass and, in recent times, significant length has been added. The dogleg right 18th was the recipient of a lot of it—in 2002, the tee was moved back a staggering 60-yards. But despite all this, scoring among Augusta’s members—regular golfers like us—hasn’t varied as wildly as you might imagine. Members and their guests are allowed to play the course until the Sunday before the tournament starts, and their scores at that time, it has been reported, seldom differ very much from their scores during the rest of the season. The reason for the paradox is the kind of trouble that tends to defeat the average player is less severely penalized at Augusa National than it is on other demanding courses. The fairways are generous, the trees are widely spaced, the bunkers are few, out-of-bounds is seldom a danger, and the short rough—or “second cut”, as the club refers to it as—is, for an average player, more of a comfort than a catastrophe, since it can cause a ball to sit up a little higher than it would on a closely mown fairway. The greens are difficult, of course—but all greens are difficult for an average player. For a 20-handicapper, three-putting is a regular occurrence on any course, and the particular perils of Augusta National's putting surfaces are offset by the reduced likelihood of losing a ball off the tee or hitting into an unplayable lie. So what would you shoot around Augusta? A pretty decent number, in all probability.

The par-5 15th: would you lay-up?

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major moments

The 10

Greatest Major Moments In a desperate effort to inject some much-needed inspiration into his own floundering game, Mak Lok-lin recalls the greatest events in Major championship history in this, the second installment of his “Top-10 Series”

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ven I have to admit that the Auchtermuchtie Close Duffers Bowl is not the most renowned competition in golf. Some might say that, as the field consists of the worst four first round losers of the Auchtermuchtie Close itself, it isn’t the toughest challenge in the game either. Nevertheless, having never won a match in the Duffers Bowl in 18 attempts, I decided that the issue was my mental attitude and went seeking inspiration from the great Major winners and their moments of brilliance.

Tom Watson

Perfect at Pebble: Tom Watson's chip-in at the 71st hole to beat Jack Nicklaus for the 1982 US Open title 36

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Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

1982 US Open, Pebble Beach Golf Links Tom Watson called his chip-in on the notoriously difficult 17th “the best shot of my life. It had more meaning than any other shot of my career”. Arriving at the tee of the windswept par-3, Watson needed a par-par finish to tie Jack Nicklaus, who was sitting pretty in the clubhouse. Selecting a 2-iron, Watson drew his shot a hair more than he intended and the ball bounced through the green into thick fescue. Given the bad lie and with only a sliver of green between himself and the hole to work with, a near-certain bogey was on the cards. Miraculously, Watson managed to land the ball gently just inches onto the putting surface from where it ran unerringly into the centre of the cup for birdie and a one-shot lead. After Watson holed a 15-footer on the par-5 18th for another birdie to seal his first (and only) US Open by two strokes, Nicklaus approached the Kansas-born Watson and said: “You little son-of-a-bitch, you are something else. I’m proud of you.” 37


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Tiger Woods 2005 Masters, Augusta National Golf Club

Bobby Jones 1923 US Open, Inwood Country Club

Locked in a duel with a dogged Chris DiMarco, Woods had uncharacteristically whittled away a fourshot lead and was in grave danger of losing his record of winning every Major championship in which he led after 54-holes. His tee shot on the par-3 16th was typical of his day: a 7-iron pull that left him in a swale below the level of the putting surface. After countless practice swings, Tiger then played a delicate chip that ran up the strongly contoured green before turning 90 degrees and heading back down towards the hole. The ball hung on the edge of the cup for what seemed an age (with, to Nike’s delight, the “swoosh” clearly visible) before dropping in for the most unlikely of birdie twos. The shot proved invaluable as Woods closed bogey, bogey to fall into a playoff, where he defeated DiMarco at the first extra hole. The win was especially important for Woods as it marked the end of a near three year dearth of Major wins, following his decision to restructure his swing. In the following 13 Majors leading up to his recent break, Tiger finished in the top-four on 11 occasions, a streak that included five wins.

Jones had been tipped as a future great ever since his first Major appearance as a 14-year-old in 1916. But when he still hadn’t won a title by 1923, many doubted if he could control himself enough to do so. At Inwood Country Club in New York, it looked like another tournament had been lost when he threw away his lead, finishing bogeybogey-double bogey to fall into a playoff with Bobby Cruickshank. Jones later said: “I didn’t finish like a champion. I finished like a yellow dog”. Putting cowardly canine concerns aside, the following day Jones and Cruickshank matched each other through 17 holes of the playoff. After his drive on the 18th, Jones was facing what he used to call a “sheer delicatessen” shot, one requiring touch and aggression from a difficult situation that only a truly gifted golfer could pull off. His ball was lying in dirt at the edge of the rough, with 192-yards to the pin over water. While Cruickshank chose to lay up, Jones drilled a 2-iron to eight feet, setting up his first major and kickstarting a dominance of the game that had never been seen before.

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Byron Nelson 1945 PGA Championship, Moraine Country Club

The “Grand Slam” is defined as winning all Majors in a calendar year. Given the PGA in 1945 was the only Major played that season, winner Bryon Nelson could lay claim to achieving the most difficult feat in golf. The PGA was the ninth victory in Nelson’s astonishing run of 11 straight titles. However, it is little known that he had badly injured his back in the Chicago Victory National Open the week before. Needing treatment at the world-famous Mayo clinic, it was no certainty that Byron would even play never mind continue his streak. But despite being in constant pain and losing 12 pounds in weight, he defeated Sam Byrd 4 and 3 in a one-sided final.

Sweet Sixteen: Tiger's scarecely believeable chip-in at the 2005 Masters helped end a three-year drought at the Majors

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Getty Images

Classic Champs: Sarazen (left) and Jones won 20 Majors between them

Dubbed “the shot heard ’round the world”, Gene Sarazen's albatross (double eagle) at the 1935 Masters is credited with dramatically raising the profile of the tournament and it eventually being awarded Major status. Born Eugenio Saraceni in the same year as Bobby Jones (1902) it was appropriate that Sarazen’s most famous shot was played at his great rival’s tournament. Trailing leader Craig Wood by three shots late on in the final round, the ‘Squire’ decided to go for the green at the par-5 15th in two rather than lay up. Incredibly, he struck his 4-wood 235-yards straight into the cup to eliminate the deficit at a stroke (pun intended!). He eventually took the title after a 36-hole playoff with an understandably flabbergasted Wood. The news of the shot itself was transmitted by CBS in their radio coverage of the tournament (they had initiated limited coverage the year before) and it was this that made the shot so memorable: people heard it happen “live”. It is worth noting that almost 60 years later, American journeyman pro Chip Beck found himself at the same hole in exactly the same position — three strokes back of leader Bernhard Langer with the option to go for the green and a muchneeded eagle. Instead, Beck elected to lay up short of the water guarding the green and was roundly criticized for doing so. He ended up parring the hole and eventually lost by four shots.

Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Gene Sarazen 1935 Masters, Augusta National Golf Club

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Roberto De Vicenzo 1967 Open, Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Jack Nicklaus 1962 US Open, Oakmont Country Club

Having burst onto the scene with his second place finish in the 1960 US Open while still an amateur, 1962 was Nicklaus’ rookie year as a pro and he joined a very small group of players whose first professional win was a Major championship title. This also triggered the start of a rivalry with runner-up Arnold Palmer that boosted the popularity of the sport among middle-class Americans to record levels. The 1962 Open was held at Oakmont, giving Latrobe-born Arnie “home” advantage. Arnie’s Army was very vocal in their support of their man, and very disparaging about the appearance and weight of the young challenger (“Ohio Fats” was one of the less disparaging nicknames given to the burly Columbus native). Nicklaus claimed to have been completely unaware of the heckling going on, but members of his family and friends were involved in a number of incidents where they challenged some of the more egregious comments. Thankfully such behaviour wasn’t seen again on tour, at least not until the US crowds got more than a little carried away with their heckling of Monty during the 1999 Ryder Cup. Often described as an Arnie meltdown, rather than a Nicklaus win, the reality was that Nicklaus simply handled the pressure far better than his infinitely more experienced opponent. Over five rounds (including the playoff), Nicklaus recorded only one three-putt whereas Palmer had 13 according to his own estimate. It’s a given that if Palmer had putted better he would have won handily, but the stats confirm that Nicklaus’ approach shots were relentlessly accurate and his putting nerveless. Nevertheless, Arnie’s profligacy is highlighted by a stat from 2007 when Sergio Garcia led the PGA Tour with 19 three-putts – for the entire season! This victory confirmed Nicklaus overnight as a credible challenger to the then dominant Palmer, Casper and Player, and he won two more tournaments in 1962. By the end of the following year he had amassed three Major titles and nine top-10 finishes in Majors. Nicklaus, of course, remains the leading Major winner of all time, with 18 titles to his credit.

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The Open at Merion was Hogan’s first Major and his first time playing 36 holes in a day since his near-fatal car accident 16 months previously. Legs bandaged and in constant pain, he had dropped shots at the 15th and 17th and came to the closing hole needing a par to tie Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio. Having driven into the middle of the fairway on the notoriously difficult 448-yard par-4, Hogan played a majestic 1-iron into the heart of the green to set up the par he required. He won the 18-hole playoff the following day. Ben’s shot was immortalised in one of the most famous golf photographs of all time, taken by Hy Peskins (pictured here). Little known fact: Mangrum was one off the pace at the 16th hole of the playoff when he picked up his ball to blow away a bug — but, amazingly, he hadn’t marked it first. The resulting two shot penalty essentially handed the tournament to Hogan.

Champagne Moments (clockwise from top left): Royal Roberto wins at Hoylake; the 1962 US Open was a tale of two legends; Christina Kim soaks Karrie Webb on the final green at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco; Hogan's famous 1-iron to the 18th green at Merion 40

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Bob Thomas/Getty Images (de Vicenzo); Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images (Hogan)

Ben Hogan 1950 US Open, Merion Golf Club

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Karrie Webb 2006 Kraf t Nabisco Championship, Mission Hills Country Club

Despite a massing a l most 50 tournament wins in an outstanding career, Karrie Webb hadn’t won a Major since the 2002 British Open and was seen as a spent force when she arrived in Rancho Mirage for the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Starting the final round seven strokes adrift of the leaders, the Aussie put all that to one side as she rolled back the years with a stunning round of 65, which ended incredibly with her holing a wedge from 116-yards for eagle and a playoff berth against Lorena Ochoa. Hailed as the most exciting end to a round in LPGA Tour history, Webb would go on to take the title on the first extra hole. The win marked Webb’s return as a global force, and she won four more tournaments in 2006, becoming only the third player to win more than $2 million in a season.

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Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images (Palmer/Nicklaus); Getty Images (Webb)

The Argentinean won over 230 titles around the world and had 16 top-10 finishes in Majors, but his only Major triumph came in the 1967 Open Championship at Hoylake when he was 44, making him the oldest winner of the 20th century. He held off a charging Jack Nicklaus to win by two, a margin he created with the shot of the tournament. On the 16th he hit a magnificent 3-wood 240 yards over the out of bounds to the green of the par-five to set up an easy two-putt birdie. He later called it the shot of his life. De Vicenzo had beaten Nicklaus in two challenge matches leading up to the Open and put £50 on himself to win when he saw the bookies were offering odds of 66/1. His betting winnings were considerably higher than the cheque he received for winning the championship. De Vicenzo became famous for the scoring error that handed the 1968 Masters to Bob Goalby and his “What a stupid I am” comment afterwards. However, I prefer to remember another comment he made, describing the perfect shot: “"It produces a mixture of pleasure, happiness, wisdom, self-esteem; as if one were being caressed by the clouds."

Lord Byron, Augusta National, 1946

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 LIQUID ASSETS

A Rhone Valley Royal

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Padraig Harrington 2008 Open Championship, Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Paddy Power: Harrington's eagle at the 17th sealed his second consecutive Open Championship title 42

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As these glorious memories played in my mind, I emerged reborn from my Zen-like state, gavaged with inspiration, testosterone squirting from my ears and proceeded to win the first hole easily. OK, I admit it was largely because my opponent conceded when he discovered he had shoved an extra HAVE YOUR SAY club in his bag, but nevertheless my Do you have a favourite Major moment not listed here? 9 and 7 defeat represents my best If so, we’d love to hear from you. performance yet in the “Duffers”. I Please email us at letters@hkgolfermagazine.com can’t wait for next year! WWW.HKGA.COM

Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Few would doubt Harrington’s credentials as a battler, but after his victory at the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, where he outlasted Sergio Garcia in a four-hole playoff, not many predicted the Irishman could replicate the feat at Birkdale the following year. Likeable Paddy, as silly as it all seems now, was considered a “One Major Man.” Harrington, of course, answered his critics in the best way possible by defending his Open crown — and he did it with one of the most memorable shots in recent Major history. Coming down the stretch on the blustery Lancashire links, Harrington held a two-stroke lead over colourful Englishman Ian Poulter with the demanding 17th and 18th to play. A resurgent Greg Norman was also lurking should the Irishman falter. After a perfect drive left him within range of the wickedly sloping green at 17, Paddy eschewed the obvious temptation to lay up and fired a brilliant 5-wood from 249-yards to just four feet to set up an eagle and effectively retain his title. Three weeks later, Harrington sealed his place in the history books by winning the final Major of the year at the USPGA at Oakland Hills. In doing so, he became the first European to win the title in 78 years and the first from Ireland to do so.

g uess for my f irst wine column I should start at one of the most amazing wine cellars in the world: Robuchon a Galera, at the Hotel Lisboa in the heart of Macau. We all know that Robuchon is fantastic; it is the only French restaurant in the enclave to have been awarded three Michelin stars. But as a wine lover, what always amazes me is that the prices on its wine list, an enormous tome roughly the size of a telephone book, make you both happy and very thirsty. Hong Kong and Macau might be the only places in the world where there is no import tax or VAT on wine, but take it from me, a wine merchant: the wine prices at Robuchon are more than reasonable and far below the market price. Recently, I had lunch at Robuchon with Nicolas Jaboulet of the famous Rhone-based wine-making family of the same name. Jaboulet is a legendary producer and among its best wines are those from a beautiful small hill in the Rhone Valley called Hermitage. It is here that they produce their signature wine: the Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle. Ja mes Suck l i ng a nd Robert Parker Jr., two of the world’s leading wine critics, absolutely rave about this wine, especially the legendary 1961 vintage of the Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle. 1961 was a truly exceptional vintage in Bordeaux and Rhone, and the wines produced t hat ye a r were si mply perfect. I was thinking about ordering a bottle of the 1961 until Nicolas i n formed me t hat at a recent Christie’s auction the 1961 went for €18,000 a bottle. But guess what the price at Robuchon was? MOP$59,000, which is less than a third of the auction price. Still a lot of money— and far over my budget— but all things considered a real bargain. Even more amazingly they still had 12 bottles in stock. WWW.HKGA.COM

We decided to order a 2003 Jaboulet la Chapelle instead. 2003 was a very hot summer in France. Sun is good for producing wine; too much sun can be a problem. But luckily for us the vintage came out very well. The wine had a beautiful nose full of intense dark fruit flavours and a hint of white pepper. Its colour was nice and dark and the intensity came out in the taste. The wine was drinking perfectly: soft spices, dark fruit and blackcurrant flavours, with a touch of that white pepper again in the mouth. I found the wine to be very well balanced and easy to drink. We decanted the wine and after about 40 minutes it really started to open up and balance out with longer and more intense concentrated flavours and soft tannins. Wow, this was good, but unfortunately we had work to do in the afternoon, otherwise I would have ordered another bottle. As our lunch came to a close, Nicolas reminded me that Rhone is where Syrah first found fame. The Jaboulet family has been producing the Hermitage la Chapelle for over one hundred years but the grape has become more commonly associated in recent years with Australia, where it is known as Shiraz. Indeed, during the 1950s, the pioneering Australian winemaker Max Schubert was so taken with Syrah from the Rhone Valley that he eventually ended up producing arguably the most famous Australian wine of them all: Penfold’s Grange Hermitage, which was named after that same beautiful small hill in the Rhone Valley where the Jaboulet family continue to make their fabulous Hermitage la Chapelle to this day. —Patricio de la Fuente Saez Patricio is the managing director of Links Concept, one of Hong Kong, Macau and China’s leading distributors of wine and spirits. Visit www. linksconcept.com for more information.

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up close

Iron Man As his performance at the Hong Kong Open proved, 51-year-old Bernhard Langer still has what it takes to take on the world’s best. Jason Dasey caught up with the German legend to discuss the Ryder Cup, religion and the putting woes that threatened to end his career before it had even got started

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Stefan von Stengel

Lean not mean: Fitness has enabled Langer to stay competitive

e’s known as one of the truly nice guys of golf who puts faith and family first. But just because Bernhard Langer has passed 50, don’t think that the two-time Masters champion has suddenly gone soft. Anything but. He’s still a “lean, mean fighting machine” who loves nothing more than winning — and is blazing a trail in his second full season on the Champions Tour in the United States. After topping the money list and claiming “Player of the Year” and “Rookie of the Year” honours in 2008, Langer began 2009 with a victory at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai followed by consecutive top-3 finishes to lead the Charles Schwab Cup. Turning 52 in August, the super-fit German is more than 30 yards longer off the tee than he was 20 years ago — although technology certainly helps — and he’s lost few of his skills or cutting edge. 45


Hong Kong Heroics: The German's fine play at Fanling earned him a share of sixth

At last November’s UBS Hong Kong Open, he produced an astonishing 7-under-63 in the third round before finishing in a creditable tie for sixth. The competitive fire still burns, and, with his many outside business interests including golf architecture, Langer retains his boundless energy, on and off the course. “I enjoy the game. I enjoy the competition,” he says. “I’m probably only going to play another 10 or 15 years competitively so I’m trying to simply enjoy it more and not let the pressure get to me.” After claiming victory in the Hawaiian Islands, Langer caught an overnight flight to Los Angeles to promote an upcoming Champions Tour event before stepping on another “red-eye” back to his Florida home on America’s east coast.

Charles McLaughlin

“At times, my putting was so bad that people were coming to watch me in the manner of those who go to motor racing to see a crash.”

Like almost everything in his life, Langer is taking his newest challenge seriously and is methodically reaping the rewards. Clearly, this former world number one is not willing to fade into oblivion as he approaches his so-called golden years. “I had fairly high expectations,” he tells me about his transition from the PGA and European Tours to the Champions Tour for players over 50. “I was hoping I would do well and I was very pleased with my rookie year, winning three tournaments, so I achieved most of my goals. “It’s a little different, playing with guys of around my age. We can relate to each other. We’re at the same stage of life. We’ve been friends for many years and it’s just a wonderful tour to be a part of.” In 2008, he was also a winner on the European Seniors circuit at the Casa Serena Open in the Czech Republic in September when he held off fellow rookie Ian Woosnam, six months his junior.

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When Langer walks into a room, there’s a humble presence and steely focus to a man who first took up the game in Bavaria as an eight year old in the mid 1960s when his elder brother was working as a caddy. He also still looks like a true athlete: wiry, trim, toned and alert. Given late tee times at January’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship, he’d head to the gym at the Hualalai resort for a handy 90-minute workout of stretching, cardio and weights. Langer’s hero for the past four decades has been Gary Player, the nine-time Major winner he now gets to play alongside on the Champions Tour. The 73-year-old South African regularly shoots better than his age. He always modelled himself on the South African because of their similar size – Langer is 5’9” (1.75m) compared to Player’s 5’7” (1.70m) - and their shared Christian values. The son of a bricklayer and a housewife, Langer was raised a Roman Catholic but says he never properly embraced his faith until he won the first of his Augusta green jackets in 1985. The following week he went to the PGA Tour’s Bible study and would become a “born-again” Christian. Regardless of your beliefs, it is difficult not to listen closely when Langer speaks about his personal struggles: from surviving illnesses that almost took his life before his 5th birthday, to overcoming serious back and neck injuries, to conquering the “yips” that once saw him fourputt from three feet: hitting the ball twice because his hands were shaking so much. How does Langer balance his pursuit of spirituality with the sometimes dog-eat-dog world of competitive golf where the demons of the mind have driven so many to distraction? “Some people say it must be hard but I think it’s easy to find a balance,” he says. The Bible talks about sportsmen and how to behave. So it’s not really against the Bible. “The only sad thing in a sense is that Sundays we are off working and we can’t be in church with our families. But being a Christian means living it every day, not just on Sundays. That’s what I’m trying to do.” His faith would have been tested during his welldocumented putting travails. In his autobiography, Langer writes: “At times, my putting was so bad that people were coming to watch me in the manner of those who go to motor racing to see a crash.” But after experimenting with a variety of grips, the Bavarian found a solution when he switched to the broomstick putter more than a dozen years ago. “For a guy who wasn’t known as a great putter, winning the Masters twice was quite an achievement,” he admits. “It was obviously very important for me and my career to win a Major and I wanted to win at least one. I always thought it would be the British Open or the Masters. As it turned out, it happened to be two Masters.” WWW.HKGA.COM

“When I was younger, golf was everything. I was breathing and living it. Playing golf was always on my mind. Now my priorities have changed a little bit. Golf is still important but it’s not overwhelmingly number one.” Although he still speaks with that familiar German monotone, his 25-year marriage to American Vikki Carol means that he sprinkles US slang words like ‘neat’ into many of his sentences. “To go back to the Masters every year is neat,” he tells me. But Langer, who has residences in Anhausen in the German Rhineland as well as Boca Raton, remains an icon of European golf where he won the Order of Merit in 1981 and 1984. He was one of the continent’s Big Five (along with Ballesteros, Faldo, Woosnam and Lyle) during the 1980s — and is unrivalled as his country’s HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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Son on the Bag: When not playing himself, Langer Jr helps out Dad

finest ever player. Britain even awarded him an honorary OBE for services to golf in 2006. He considers his Ryder Cup appearances — he made 10 as a player and one in 2004 as European captain — to be among his fondest golfing memories. Winning exactly half of his ties, Langer played no small part in shifting the balance of power from the once daunting Americans. He was part of Tony Jacklin’s team that brought the Ryder Cup back to Europe in 1985 for the first time since 1957, and, then two years later, featured in Europe’s breakthrough victory on American soil. However, it wasn’t all smooth

The Langer File DATE OF BIRTH: 27 August 1957 PLACE OF BIRTH: Anhausen, Germany TURNED PRO: 1974 MAJOR VICTORIES: 2 (Masters – 1985, 1993) OTHER PROFESSIONAL VICTORIES: 73 RYDER CUP RECORD: Played 42: Won 21, Lost 15, Halved 6 ACCOLADES: Two-time European Tour Order of Merit winner (1981 and 1984); World Number 1 for 3 weeks (1985); awarded honorary OBE in 2006; inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001

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sailing. Who could forget that missed 6-foot putt against Hale Irwin on Kiawah Island in South Carolina that allowed the United States to win back the trophy in 1991? “There’s just too many memories from Ryder Cup,” he says. “Making the deciding point at Valderrama (in 1997) to win for Europe stands out and also having a great record in 2002 at the Belfry when I was paired with Monty and never lost a match. “The final highlight was my captaincy in 2004 at Oakland Hills. That was a fantastic week, interacting with 12 players and their spouses with all the fun that we had in the players’ room and also outside on the golf course.” Langer’s shrewd and inspirational captaincy resulted in a record 18 ½ to 9½ victory for the visiting Europeans. These days, not all the golf that Langer plays has the edge of a Ryder Cup or big-money Champions Tour event. He says one of his favourite tournaments is the annual Dell Webb Challenge for father and son. Langer and 19-yearold Stefan won the 2005 and 2006 editions and finished equal fourth in Florida last December. “I call it the fifth Major because it’s so much fun to bring your son inside the ropes and show him what you do for a living and interact with some of the legends of the game,” he says. “He was able to play with Jack Nicklaus and his son among others. Just spending that time together one-on-one and have our family and friends outside the ropes cheering us on is unique and very meaningful.” Stefan, who caddied for Langer senior at the 2008 UBS Hong Kong Open, has yet to make the same impact — at least when he plays on his own. His 28-over-par 98 on his European Tour debut as a 17-year-old at the KLM Dutch Open in 2007 had some wondering if he might have really been the son of cricketer Justin Langer or Rugby League legend Allan Langer. On the same day, Dad carded a 3-under-par 67. A devoted father of four, Langer has the wisdom of 33 years professional experience – including 75 worldwide victories - to share with Stefan, who’s also cut his teeth on the Florida Junior Tour. “When I was younger, golf was everything. I was breathing and living it. Playing golf was always on my mind. Now my priorities have changed a little bit. Golf is still important but it’s not overwhelmingly number one.” So, seven years after his induction into the Golfing Hall of Fame, how much longer does Langer — with five wins in his first 26 starts on the Champions Tour — see himself out there? “I really don’t know. I’ve always said as long as I’m healthy, having fun and having some success then I’m going to continue to play. It’s not as much of a grind as the regular tour so I’ll try to achieve certain things. I just want to be out there and enjoying the great game that we’re able to play.” WWW.HKGA.COM

The Joy of Flight

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h ile Chek Lap Kok is an architectural marvel and arguably the finest airport in the world, aviation enthusiasts from Hong Kong and further afield still get nostalgic about its predecessor, Kai Tak, and the thrill that was landing on Runway 13. Those who lived in Hong Kong before 1998 will remember it well. The red and white checkerboard that let pilots know when to make the sharp right hand turn on approach, the proximity of the industrial buildings and tenement blocks of East Kowloon as the plane lined up on its final descent, the tyre mark-strewn tarmac jutting magnificently out into Victoria Harbour—landing at Kai Tak was always an experience, but one that has since vanished into history…or so we thought. Megabox, the colourful shopping mall in Kowloon Bay, might seem like an unusual setting for wannabe pilots looking to get their kicks, but that’s where Flight Experience, one of the world’s most advanced flight simulators, is located. And unlike the simulators that airline pilots train on, the two at Flight Experience are open to anyone over the age of 12 who wants to experience the thrill of flight. “Flight Experience is about making people’s dreams come true, and many people’s dream is to be able to fly a real jet,” says Alessandro Gadotti, managing director of Flight Experience, China. WWW.HKGA.COM

“Many people that come here already have an Flight Experience interest in aviation but many others come in with G20, Megabox absolutely no experience or knowledge whatsoever. 38 Wang Chiu Road They’re just intrigued by the whole idea and want Kowloon Bay to try it out. After the experience they’re really Tel: (852) 2359-0000 www.flightexperience.com.hk enthusiastic to try it again.” So what is it actually like? Well, jolly good fun is the honest answer—and reasonable too, with flight vouchers starting from HK$1,080, making it a great gift idea. After receiving a thorough pre-flight briefing from your fully trained commercial jet co-pilot, you’re lead into the flightdeck where you familiarize yourself with the instruments of your aircraft—the Boeing 737-800. Upon receiving permission to take-off, you push the throttles forward and after receiving the call of “rotate” from your co-pilot you pull back on the yoke and you’re airborne, flying on an easterly heading towards Tsing Yi and Kowloon beyond. (I was flying from Chek Lap Kok to Kai Tak but there are over 24,000 airports from around the world and any number of itineraries—or flight plans— to choose from). Although keeping the plane “straight and level” without using autopilot isn’t too demanding, descending and executing the required 47 degree bank to land at Kai Tak takes some practice. While my co-pilot was making the necessary flap selection and lowering the landing gear, my feeble attempts at lining up with the runway should have resulted in a “go around”. But I persevered and touched down, albeit at a rather odd angle, half way down the famous landing strip. Not exactly textbook, but we were down safely and Flight Experience had gained another enthusiast. Competition Answer this simple question to win flight vouchers at Flight Experience:

Which type of aircraft can you ‘fly’ at Flight Experience? a) Boeing 777-200 b) Airbus A380-800 c) Boeing 737-800

Send your answers to competitions@hkgolfermagazine.com

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inside the industry

Peter Downie, the former director of golf at Clearwater Bay, has set his sights high at his new club – immaculate Sentosa

In Pursuit of Perfection

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hat Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club is one of the most famous golfing venues in Southeast Asia is beyond doubt. Considered the most exclusive course in the city, the club, which first opened its doors 1974, hosts the annual Barclays Singapore Open, the continent’s richest national professional tournament, and boasts a membership that comprises a veritable who’s who of Singaporean high society. It is also a golf club in the true sense of the word. There are no tennis courts, spas or swimming pools to get in the way here. The Royal and Ancient game, played over the two championship courses, rules the roost, while two fine restaurants — offering Japanese and Italian fare — and a convivial terrace bar ensures that golfers are exceptionally well catered for post-round. To many, the setup is as near perfect as one could possibly hope for. But that list doesn’t include Peter Downie, the club’s director of golf for nearly 18 months. At least not yet. 50

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Downie, as members of Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club will attest, is a perfectionist. And the 47-year-old Scot, who was the club’s director of golf for five years, a period during which he oversaw the successful renovation of the spectacular seaside layout, is determined to raise the bar even higher at Sentosa. “We have awesome potential here,” he says as we sit enjoying a couple of bottles of Tiger on the terrace after a round on the highly impressive and notoriously tough Serapong Course. “The way the golf course was constructed and the resources we have here…we can take this and make it the best in Asia. It’s an incredible canvas to work with.” But according to Downie, who started his golf career as an assistant pro at venerable Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian, it’s still very much a work in progress. “You know, golf courses are always evolving. You always have to keep changing them and doing WWW.HKGA.COM

Sentosa-by-Sea: Surreal views of Singapore Harbour await those who play the Serapong Course. Here at the 5th

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Fun Finish: the 9th and 18th holes wrap their way around an imposing lake. Right: Downie on the Golfer's Terrace

little bits. My focus has been on transforming the Serapong and members should see a marked improvement from month to month, rather than nothing and then a flood of changes.” The “little bits” that he’s referring to have already proved significant. The addition of bunkers on certain holes—and the removal of bunkers on others—as well as lowering the tangly Zoysia rough and adding strategicallyplaced trees has so far proved a winner with both members and professionals alike. “Last year at the Barclays [Singapore Open], we gave the pros a feedback sheet,” remembers Downie. “Responses varied but there were some excellent suggestions. Darren Clarke was very meticulous and commented on every hole. Many of the changes are based on what they told us. “I didn’t want to know what’s good about the course. I want to know what’s bad. Critique me, fine, but let me know what’s wrong. I want negative comments. I can’t do anything with “good” comments. I can’t fix “good.” Now, I may not agree with your negative comment, I might let it just wash over me, but I will take it on board. And we listened.” Some of those comments surrounded the large, undulating TifEagle greens. While they are considered among the best-maintained in the region by regular visitors, according to Downie, that’s not good enough.

“They [the pros] wanted the greens far healthier so we could make them faster – they weren’t fast enough,” he explains. “The course is probably six out of 10 condition-wise. It’ll probably take us a year, maybe a year and a half to get it where we want it. 10 is unsustainable, especially in this environment and weather. I reckon we could get it to eight, maybe eight and a half.” One advantage that Sentosa has in helping to get getting their putting surfaces into pristine shape, aside from the abilities of its 100 greenkeeping staff, is its use of Subair. A nifty system installed under all the greens of the Serapong Course, Subair essentially sucks away the moisture out of the greens and then blows air into them, which helps keep them healthy and playable. “Within minutes of a downpour our greens can be dry again. It costs around US$100,000 to install each green with it but when you have visitors paying up to S$500 (approximately HK$2,500) for a round they should expect a well-maintained golf course.” A somewhat controversial practice that Downie has ushered into the club during his tenure has been the practice of auditing of members’ handicaps. “We randomly pick 12 members and check to see whether the number of cards they’ve submitted correlates with the number of times they’ve played,” he says. “We know how many

times they’ve played because they have to sign in. If the numbers don’t match then we fill in a card on their behalf. Whatever was the lowest card they put it that month we’ll match it. So it becomes public and the handicap is adjusted. Before it was pretty ridiculous: winners with 46 [stableford] points was common.” Needless to say, sandbagging is quickly becoming a thing of the past at Sentosa. When Downie speaks, whether it’s about his plans to install a pot bunker by the 1st green, to upgrade the Tanjong Course, the club’s second track, introducing caddies to the club, or simply ensuring that members’ handicaps are kept up to date, it becomes blindingly clear that he is not only exceptionally good at what he does, but he carries in his head the vision of what needs to be done for the benefit of all. The Japanese have a philosophy for what he epitomizes: Kaizen— continuous improvement. “I’ve done this for long enough, over 30 years, and it’s not a job. This is my life—and it’s a great life,” he says as we put down our glasses for the final time of the evening. “It’s a lovely way to come to work. When I get through these gates every morning I think, ‘Wow. I get paid to do this?’ “To tinker with a golf course…it’s something I’m passionate about. I come out here and say ‘OK, how do I make this place better?’”

Bio: From Scotland to Sentosa “I was a very late starter to the game. When I was 15 I had a handicap of 12. I wasn’t playing much but when I started taking lessons at Gullane with Jimmy Hume I thought ‘I’d love to do that job – be a club pro.’ I left school at 16 and Jimmy took me on. For the first three years I worked in the back shop and cleaned clubs. When I moved to the pro shop I thought I had arrived. I was selling clubs and selling Mars bars! There was a Hong Kong connection. Allan Murray (President of the Hong Kong Club and Shek O Country Club) would come home to Gullane to visit and he’d pay me 10 pounds to play a round with him. If he won he’d pay me 20 pounds. Years later, when I arrived in Hong Kong to work at Clearwater Bay, Allan was kind enough to take me to lunch to welcome me. I met so many people that day who were key contacts for me. My break came when I went to visit a friend in Florida. Whilst there, I heard that a new Jack Nicklaus course was opening as part of the Hyatt Regency Resort in the Cayman Islands and I was determined to get a job there. I was offered an interview but they wouldn’t pay for the flight. I had no money and was too embarrassed to call my mum and dad for money, so I pawned my golf clubs! Luckily I got the job and at the interview I asked them to sub me $300 to get them back. I was the assistant pro, then the head pro and then I became the director of golf. I stayed for seven years.

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When I was at the Hyatt, the general manager offered me the chance to go through the hotel management training programme. On the first day, I went to his office in a shirt and tie and was expecting to be put in a front office position. He told me to go to the uniform room and pick out a stewarding outfit. I ended up cleaning pots and pans for the next four months. I went through the gamut of hotel operational activities. I turned down beds, worked in food and beverage, and even spent time in engineering. That was where I learnt about desalination systems, which came in very useful when I worked at Dubai Creek and, later, at Clearwater Bay, where we installed the first open seawater reverse osmosis irrigation plant in Asia. Going through the hotel management programme was the best bit of career change I ever did. When the Dubai government contacted the European Tour to ask for a club pro who was also trained in hotel management, they turned to me. It helped me receive the PGA 5-Star Professional of the Year Award. Clearwater Bay was my biggest achievement. It wasn’t all plain sailing but it was transformational. Over a year before I left, I was asked to move to Sentosa, but I was determined to see the project through. A week after the course reopened I moved here. I loved what we had in Hong Kong—it was an incredible piece of property.”

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results

Club Information Despite its exclusivity, the club has limited tee times available seven days a week for visitors on both the Serapong and Tanjong courses:

Shinichi Mizuno, February Monthly Medal Winner, DBGC

Monthly Medal – Gross Section 21 February JOD Black won the Monthly Gross Section played over the New Course with 70.

Serapong Course Par 72. Yardge: 7,293 Designed by Ronald Fream (1982) / Bates Golf Design (2007) Visitor Green Fee: S$335-475 (HK$1,700-2400) Carts included

Monthly Medal – Nett Section 21 February B Kan won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the New Course with 64. Macwhinnie Cup Final 22 February T Ling won the Macwhinnie Cup Final played over the Old Course with +1. A Lau was the runner-up.

Tanjong Course Par 72. Yardage: 6,606 Designed by Max Wexler/Chris Pitman/Frank Pennick (1974) Visitor Green Fee: S$305-425 (HK$1,550-2150) Carts included

Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club Ladies Section

February Medal 4 February Division 1 Gross Winner: Felicia Louey (84) Nett Winner: Akiko Harada (71) Nett Runner-up: Pia Fung (76)

Contact:

Tel: +65 6275-0090 Email: sgcgolf@sentosagolf Website: www.sentosagolf.com

Division 2 Gross Winner: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:

Around the Clubs The Hong Kong Golf Club

Desert Stormer

Peter's Pick: the par-4 3rd hole on the Serapong Course is Downie's favourite at Sentosa 54

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“In 1999, the Dubai Desert Classic was held at Dubai Creek. Being the director of golf, I was invited to play, and agreed despite my having played only with members. I shot 69 the first day, then another 69 the second day. I was in the final flight in the third round, playing with David Howell. He had a couple of bogeys. I had a couple of birdies, and found myself leading the tournament. On the range beforehand, Colin and Montgomerie and Mark O’Meara came up to me, slapped me on the back and O’Meara said, ‘Monty, who is this club pro who is kicking our asses?’ O’Meara was the reigning Masters and Open champion at the time. It was a funny moment. In the final round, I was paired with Paul McGinley, and we were level after 12 holes. Then I started thinking too much and got nervous. All my life I’ve taught people to stay in the present. But when you’re in that position, it’s very difficult. McGinley shot a 68 and finished third. I shot 78 and ended way down the list. Angel Cabrera also played in that tournament. I met him at the Singapore Open last year, and he came up to me and said, ‘I know you. You’re the club pro that did really well.’ It was a lovely touch but I’ll leave the tournaments to those guys. People ask me, ‘Why don’t you play more?’ You’ve got to realize your limitations. Having said that, I’ll be 50 in three years and may have a look at the Seniors Tour.”

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Captain’s Cup 15 February D Lie won the Captain’s Cup Final played over the Eden Course. J Inge was the runner-up.

HKGC v Clearwater Bay 17 January HKGC: 24 points CWB: 7½ points * Played over the Eden Course Lusitania Cup - Gross Section 18 January R Keys won the Lusitania Cup Gross Section played over the Eden & Old courses on with -7. C W Stone was the runner-up on countback with -8. D Moore placed third. Lusitania Cup – Nett Section 18 January P L M Cheng won the Lusitania Cup Nett Section played over the Eden & Old courses with +2. C W Stone was the runner-up with -1. Monthly Medal – Gross Section 31 January D Moore won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Eden Course on with 75. Monthly Medal – Nett Section 31 January I Takemoto won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the Eden Course with 71. K J Woo Cup & Willie Woo Cup – Gross Section 1 February VWT Ma won the K J Woo Cup & Willie Woo Cup Gross Section played at DWB with 24 points. MA Choa was the runner-up with 22 points. K J Woo Cup & Willie Woo Cup – Nett Section 1 February RTY Chan won the K J Woo & Willie Woo Cup Nett Section played at DWB with 34 points. CSM Ip was the runner-up with 32 points. WWW.HKGA.COM

Elsie Mak (94) Fumiko Kataoka (72) Chikako Yabe (75)

February Stableford 11 February Division 1 Winner: Felicia Louey (37) Runner-up: Madoka Murayama (36) Division 2 Winner: Runner-up:

Nakako Honda (45) Liz Mangum (38)

Men’s Section

Captain’s Cup 21 February Gross Winner: Gross Runner-up: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:

Eugene Pak (78) Rodney Chung (84 C/B) James Fung (70) Michael Brown (72)

Chairman’s Cup 21 February Winner: Peter Ma (38) Runner-up: Nicholas Chan (37)

Discovery Bay Golf Club 2009 Ladies Matchplay Final Rungnapa Winchester def. Roberta Tan 2-up Monthly Medal 22 February Ladies Division Division A Winner: Roberta Tan (69) Division A Best Gross: Chisako Kubota (78) Division B Winner: Toko Takemoto (41 pts) Men’s Division Division A Winner: Division B Winner: Division A & B Best Gross: Division C Winner:

Shinichi Mizuno (69) SY Baik (70) Matajiro Nagatomi (81) Philip Lo (41 pts) HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2009

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city golf

When the British arrived in the late 19th century so did golf, a sport that is now entrenched in Myanmar society as there about 130 courses, many of them quaint nine-holers, around the country. The first course was built in 1887 in Thayetmyo, about 360 kilometres north of Yangon, and still exists today. In Yangon, the first club, Rangoon Golf Club, was founded in 1893, but is long gone from its initial site at what is now the People’s Park. As it is, the city now offers about 10 clubs, nearly all with public access.

WHERE TO PLAY

Pun Hlaing Golf Club HHHH Much like his fantastic work on the original 36 holes at Kau Sai Chau, Pun Hlaing Golf Club is Gary Player at his best. Located to the west of the city in a luxury 263-hectare housing estate where US$400,000 can purchase a twostorey 317-square-metre residence overlooking the 18th tee (complete with golf membership), this resort-style course is as good as any in Asia. What stands out at this par-72, 7,012-yard layout is aesthetics, as the country’s top international course features an abundance of lush exotic flora and fauna. Adding to the experience is a view of the Shwedagon pagoda in the distance. With big greens, wide fairways and good undulation, this is a course where a player’s skill level needs to increase with each successive hole. The 452-yard, par-4 2nd is the top-rated hole. It requires a massive drive followed by a confident approach as a creek cuts across the fairway about 100 yards from the green. Making par on this difficult hole will build confidence for your round. The 174-yard 12th is the club’s signature. Player, a nine-time Major winner, said this par-3, which requires hitting over water to a hard-sloping, long green protected by four bunkers, reminded him of Augusta. The home hole, a 520-yard par-5, provides a fitting finish. With water up both sides of the fairway, the green is reachable in two for big hitters, but likely three shots for most. The approach is the key as a large body of water in front of the green must be successfully navigated to reach the long, narrow putting surface. Pun Hlaing has a strong Hong Kong connection as club owner, tycoon Serge Pun whose company is also behind the Gary Player-designed layout at Sand River Golf Club in Shenzhen, is locally based, while course superintendent Allen Percival previously served at Skycity Nine Eagles. Pun Hlaing Golf Estate Avenue, Hlaing, Tharyar, Yangon Contact: (95-1) 684-020; punhlaing@spa.com.mm Green fee: US$65

Rolling it in

Al Campbell gets the lowdown on golf in Myanmar’s largest city

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Rangoon

isiting the former Myanmar capital today, in all its decaying glory, is like taking a trip back in time to the days of the British empire with the numerous magnificent colonial buildings, more than 200 in all, dotting the city’s often manic downtown core. Adding to the experience are the old cars. With the numerous sanctions levied on the former Burma by the international community for its human rights record, this place is the Cuba of the East with eccentric vehicles galore—Mazda Range Rover knockoffs, US cars from the 1950s and 1960s, and the best and the worst of the early Japanese imports—navigating the often-bumpy roads. Yet for all the criticisms of the country, the atmosphere in the former Rangoon is surprisingly relaxed and safe. Walking around the “Garden city of the East” is relatively easy with the city’s downtown area set up in a grid system along the Yangon River. 56

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At nearly every turn, visitors will find outstanding examples of Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Among the many highlights are the city’s main hospital on Bogyoke Aung San Road, Yangon City Hall next to Sule Pagoda, and the Supreme Court just to the east. The bar and restaurant in the nearby Strand Hotel, an establishment patronized by Somerset Maugham, Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret, among others, over the years, provides a welcome retreat for those looking to escape the heat. Further afield, the city’s suburbs are dotted with beautiful early 20th century mansions that formerly WWW.HKGA.COM

housed timber and mining barons and others who made their fortune in trading the country’s abundant resources worldwide. The Governor’s Residence, now a swank boutique hotel and restaurant, provides a good example as this near century-old preserved teak mansion is outstanding in its opulence and detail. Inevitably a visitor will be out in the suburbs to take in the Shwedagon Pagoda, a spectacular 99-metre-tall shrine that looms large over the city. Built more than 2,500 years ago, it was erected to house eight hairs of Indian Prince Siddhartha who had just attained Buddhahood and the relics of three previous Buddhas. WWW.HKGA.COM

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Sarazen, Peter Thomson and Paul Harney, its hosting of the Putra Cup and Myanmar Open on several occasions, a nd t he development of home-grown cha mpions Zaw Moe and Kyi Hla Han, the current Asian Tour chief executive. Danyingone, Insein Township, Yangon Contact (95-1) 635-617, 635-842; www. yangongolfclub.com; Green fee: US$20

Trip Planner Money Myanmar has no international banking system, currency exchange or ATMs. In addition, travellers cheques are virtually useless in the country, as are credit cards, although some big hotels may accept them. As it is, visitors need to be cashed up with US currency going in, preferably pristine unmarked US$100 and US$50 bills void of folds. Greenbacks can then be exchanged for kyats, the local currency, with street vendors (often a dodgy proposition for the exchange rate) or at hotels. Money traders at the Bogyoke Market on Bogyoke Aung San Road, the main market downtown, also seem to be fairly trustworthy. Be prepared to get stacks of 1,000-note kyats and spend them before leaving the country as they are worthless beyond the Myanmar border. While the exchange rate may be more, 1,000 kyat for US$1 is a good reference.

Myanmar Golf Club HHH T h is cit y cou rse says something about the colonial history of the country as it was set up in 1947 as a place where locals could get in the swing. With golf entrenched in the city in the first half of the 20th century, and locals initially not allowed to play such clubs as the then Rangoon Golf Club, the former Burma Golf Club was opened in reaction as a place for all to enjoy. Such a policy remains to this day. This natural and beautiful looking course follows the lay of the land with varying degrees of undulation ranging from gentle to extreme along the cowgrass fairways. The greens are largely elevated with the small bunkers protecting them filled with coarse, heavy sand. Highlights on this tree-lined layout include the 332-yard 7th, which features a semi-island green, and the longer 15th, a dramatic water-laced dogleg right hole that encourages long hitters to cut the corner with a booming drive. Ninth Mile, Pyay Road, Yangon Contact: (95-1) 661-702, 665-531 Green fee: US$22

Step back in time (clockwise from top): Pun Hlaing, Myanmar's highest rated course; Yangon street life; the colonial-era clubhouse at MGC; Gene Sarazen was one of the first professional golfers to visit the country. 58

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Yangon Golf Club HHH There’s never been a better time to visit this historic venue. One of the grand old clubs of the Asian landscape, YGC celebrates its centenary this year, barely 12 months since Cyclone Nargis registered a direct hit, which destroyed more than 40 percent of its tree-lined fairways. Since then, US$20,000 has been spent to clear the devastation on this roomy par-72, 7,010-yard layout and the club is back enjoying its status as one of the country’s finest. While the designer of the club is unknown, the layout appears very Alister MacKenzie-like in its traits with a simplistic design that follows the lay of the gentle-rolling landscape, abundance of water (coming into play in some form on 15 holes) and tiny greens. Adding to the challenge are t he cowgrass-turfed fairways where balls sit down Time for a tune-up on the thick-bladed grass and hard earth. If you are looking to improve your game, Myanmar A mong t he nu merous boasts some of the cheapest golf lessons in the region. standout holes are the 414-yard, At the Han Golf Masters Academy (Kyauk Yae Twin par-4 7th, which features a St, Yangon; 651-797, 651-374), a school billed as “the blind drive, and the 186-yard, home of future champions”, lessons with a pro run as cheap as US$6 for a 30 minute session. A package of par-3 15th with the Yangon 12 one-hour lessons costs US$150. The modern school, suburbs to the back of the which was started by the Han brothers — Chan, Kyi Hla tee and a pond in front of the and Aung Hla — features 45 artificial and natural grass heavily-bunkered green. bays, and features an extensive short game area to work The open-air colonial-style on putting, chipping and sand play. The academy, which clubhouse is a virtual museum to runs adjacent to the Myanmar Golf Club, is the training the club’s history, documenting ground for the country’s national team. visits by such greats as Gene

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Visas Visitors will also need to arrange a visa in advance before arriving in the country. The procedures and an application can be downloaded from http://myanmar. e-consulate.org or picked up from the local consulate (24/F, Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai). A one-entry visa, good for a 30-day visit, costs HK$150. Getting There At the time of press no airline flies direct between Hong Kong and Yangon. By far the easiest transit point is Bangkok. Thai International, Air Asia and Bangkok Airways serve Yangon International Airport daily. Another option is China Southern Airlines, which flies twice-weekly direct from Guangzhou. Climate December and January are the best months for golf in Yangon, when the days are dry and the temperature averages about 20 degrees Celsius. During March and April, the hottest months, the mercury can reach 37 degrees. Golf during the summer months can be a hit and miss affair; while temperatures are more bearable there’s always the risk of a thnderstorm.

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new plays

Balinese Beauty: New Kuta's stunning clifftop locale is sure to be a hit with travelling golfers

After a decade of idleness, New Kuta Golf Club is burgeoning along Bali’s most breathtaking balcony. Scott Resch reports. Photography by Tom Breazeale

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“The last hole is what I call sneaky tough. I’ve watched guys absolutely cake it coming in.”

I

t ’s hard to believe that when you turn off Uluwatu Highway and pass through the gate at New Kuta Golf Club there’s a religious experience at the end of the road — and it’s got nothing to do with Shiva, the Ramayana or a beach break par excellence. The three-kilometer-long drive that leads steeply downhill to a clifftop overlooking Balangan Beach in surf-blessed, spiritually rich Bali is a curious fiveminute journey. When I visited in January, the aged concrete path was potholed and pebbly. Cows were grazing in palm-tree framed pastures that flanked either side. Nowhere along the first kilometer or two was there sign of what lied ahead — further down the drive and in New Kuta’s future. For those who have followed the development of this project on the Island of the Gods, the scene probably wouldn’t come as a surprise. Construction on its centrepiece — an 18-hole Golfplan-designed course — began in 1994 but idled for years after 1998, when the country’s president was ousted from power. Eight years passed before a finger was laid on it again. But when work did resume, it was both serious and skillful. The results prove it. What sits on that balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean now is nothing short of dazzling — one imaginative hole after another, each a chapter in a story that’s been waiting to be told for almost 15 years.

“There’s no question this course has been a long time coming,” admits Stephen Banks, who moved from Vietnam to Bali in November to assume the role of general manager at New Kuta Golf Club. “But it was worth the wait. The seventh is a good example of what makes it remarkable: From a forward tee, the hole is a difficult but manageable par-4 that just happens to be drop-dead gorgeous. From the tips, it’s a par-4 that will test the best players on earth.” At the end of February, it did just that. That’s when 144 players from the European and Asian tours convened at New Kuta Golf Club for the co-sanctioned Indonesian Open. By press time, the tournament was a few days from commencement. But that didn’t prevent Banks, a British PGA Professional, from predicting how events might shake down. “I think they’ll enjoy New Kuta immensely, but not because they’ll eat the course for breakfast,” he said. “If the winner posts anything better than a 12-under for 72 holes, I’ll be shocked.” (Banks was prophetic in his judgement: Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee prevailed with a 12-under total of 276 to win the title by two shots). One reason, perhaps: the prevailing winds, which in the afternoon come screaming off Jimbaran Bay and wreak havoc on ball flight. Nowhere is the effect felt more than down the stretch. From number 14, a par-4 that plays

directly into the fan, 438 yards to cliff’s edge, New Kuta becomes a bear. It’s followed by a relatively short par-3 (153 yards), which is made daunting by a cross-breeze that bats any weakly struck tee shot into the huge, deep trap guarding the front right side of the green. Manage to sidestep carnage there, and there’s still plenty of work to do. Number 16 is a long par-5 with OB left — which is exactly the direction the wind wants to push shots from its elevated tee box — and the potential for a blind approach, should the second shot not find the right half of the fairway. The home hole is a double dogleg par-5 with bunkers positioned to gobble up even good drives and a couple of tall Cook pines standing as obstacle to any third shot that is longer than 100 yards. “The last (hole) is what I call sneaky tough,” said Banks. “Just because it runs away from the coast, and is therefore shielded more from the wind, doesn’t mean it can’t ruin a round. From the clubhouse terrace, I’ve watched guys absolutely cake it coming in.” None of the above is to say the front nine is forgettable. In fact, taken on its own, it rivals a collection of the best inland holes at Kapalua’s Bay Course in Hawaii. Because in addition to the previously mentioned seventh, there’s the par-3 sixth, a 191-yard beast with essentially an island green — it’s literally surrounded by a sea of sand.

Even the straightforward par-4 third is memorable. Looking off the back of the tee box, the lush vastness of the 650-hectare property is revealed, back-dropped to the west by sparkling blue waters surfers have been drawn to for decades. “New Kuta’s tableau has a real appeal,” said Golfplan partner David Dale, who along with teammates Ronald Fream and Kevin Ramsey made several site visits leading up to the course’s grand opening last summer. “There are holes that run right along the sea, but the holes that sit higher on the property have water views that are longer and, in their own way, are more breathtaking. We are very happy with the final product.”

Links-like: Native grasses and a constant breeze makes this a definite seaside challenge

THE KUTA TO COME New Kuta isn’t remindful of Kapalua just because some of their holes feel similar. The pieces of real estate they occupy have something to do with it, too. The club sits on 650 hectares of prime, bucolic property, 30 minutes south of the airport in Denpasar. That’s only a fraction of the size of the equally-pastoral Kapalua development (9,300 hectares). But soon their amenities will rival one another, as well. In fact, the latest New Kuta project is already making noise. Literally. In February, New Kuta developer P.T. Bali Pecatu Graha (BPG) christened the beachfront-hugging Klapa, a 6,000-squaremeter nightclub that instantly became Indonesia’s largest. And by June, the first of five hotels will also be taking guests. Called Le Grande Pecatu, the 60-room boutique lodge is tucked inoffensively off the ninth fairway with views of the course, the ocean and a hillside draped in coconut palms. The rest of the hotels are in some stage of construction — and possess names of notoriety: Best Western, Kempinski and Raffles, which will oversee a suite of luxury villas on the cliffs beside Klapa. The 4,000-square-metre clubhouse opened in January and fast became a post-round hangout thanks to Chef Gusep Gumanti’s fresh interpretation of a Balinese favorite: Lemongrass swordfish.—Scott Resch

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On the Wave of

“Nuevo Spain”

By Ali Nicol

T

he international popularity of Spanish culture has exploded over the last few years. From art and architecture, to gastronomy and oenology, it seems that hedonists worldwide celebrate the splendour of Spain. One quick and easy way to get your fix of ‘Espana’, without having to get on a plane, is by cracking a bottle of Spanish wine. Spain is fast becoming a world leader in wine making circles, rivalling its illustrious neighbour to the north, France, and is now recognised for producing high quality wines of exceptional value. Grapes have been grown in Spain for wine making since before Roman times, though wines have evolved greatly since these days with the transformation being clearly evident during the last quarter of the 20th century. Recent years have seen the emergence of new, more innovative wine makers that are setting new standards for quality, modern wines. Spain has 63 Denominacion de Origen (D.O. –or Designation of Origin – a symbol of quality and wine making compliance), with several of the well known giants such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero and Navarra being popular for decades. Today there are new, up and coming, and exciting smaller regions such as Priorat, Campo de Borja, Rueda, Toro, Terra Alta, which are enjoying a huge growth in popularity. DOQ Rioja is Spain’s flagship and most famous wine producing region, making classic, Spanish blended wines with a tradition which can place a high emphasis on long aging of wines in oak barrels. This has in part established the classification system Rioja adheres to by denominating their wines by the amount of time they have spent in the barrel. Today, wine makers in Rioja may use a mix of French and American oak for their barrels and take a more innovative and modern approach to achieve the high quality associated with the region’s wines. These attributes can be found in many great wines from wineries such as Bodegas Palacio, Marques de Murrietta, Rioja Vega and Martinez Bujanda. One renowned producer of particular interest in Rioja Alta is Bodegas Muga, where traditional and modern wine making techniques can be found side-by-side. A family-run winery producing wines of pronounced personality, Bodegas Muga is unique in that it 2009 TO HK GOFLER 1 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT 64 HK GOLFER・APR/MAY

is one of the only wineries in Spain to have its own cooperage (barrel making facilities) and their own hand crafted barrels are used in the production of all their wines. Decades of family tradition, dedication and skill go into every hand crafted bottle. Bodegas Muga award winning wines receive accolades and high ratings every year, in particular their flagship Aro and Torre Muga. The Reserva 2004 was listed as one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2008. While Rioja DOQ may be Spain’s flagship region, Ribera del Duero DO is notorious for wines of premium quality that command high prices with equal recognition, where Vega Sicilia has in the past been renowned for Spain’s most expensive wine. A region of red grapes, the vast majority of wine produced is from Tempranillo, although quantities of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot can be used in the blend. The famous wine making village of Pesquera del Duero is home to Bodegas Emilio Moro, whose wine making skills and craft produce unblended 100% Tempranillo wines of exceptional quality. The Bodegas vineyard goes back three generations where Emilio Moro started his wine career treading grapes and racking wines at the tender age of fourteen. Bodegas Emilio Moro is proud to use a local variety of the Tempranillo grape called Tinta Fino. This strain has evolved over time, adapting to the local “terroir” to become uniquely distinctive. It is Tinta Fino which makes Emilio Moro wines so exclusive and in particular the Malleolus de Sanchomartin which has been rated by Wine Spectator as not only Spain’s, but one of the world’s best wines, consecutively gaining an outstanding rating of 98 points. Emilio Moro is well known as one of Spain’s most prestigious wineries producing refined, award winning wines that can be found on tables of some of the worlds best restaurants, including top Michelin starred Chef Ferran Adria’s, El Bulli. Situated in the northeast of Spain near Rioja on the Rio Ebro is the Campo de Borja DO and, notably, Bodegas Borsao. In a region regarded for its red wines, fresh white and rosé is also produced. Under the shadow of the Moncayo Mountains, the microclimates at Borsao’s vineyards produce WWW.HKGA.COM

exceptional strains of Garnacha (Grenache). Borsao take this heaven sent product and blend it with Tempranillo and either Cabernet, Syrah or Merlot to create modern fruit forward Spanish wines. Robert Parker recently described Bodegas Borsao as “one of the worlds greatest value priced wines.” Bodegas Borsao, whilst being highly rated, still strive to create great quality wines of exceptional value and affordability, most notably with their Tres Picos, 100% Garnacha coming from over 100-year-old vines. Whilst Borsao has been producing exceptional wines for some time, a recent modernisation, coupled with a highly visible marketing strategy in Europe and North America has put Borsao on the map. Their wines are full bodied and fruit forward making them particularly suitable to pair with various styles of Asian cuisine. One of Spain’s smallest DO’s is Priorat. Consisting of just 4151 acres (about 3% of the size of Rioja), Priorat is having a large impact with the creation of some of Spain’s most unique wines. A once forgotten barren wasteland, it has recently been rediscovered and subsequently Priorat wines reflect the distinctinve ‘licorella’ soils and microclimate of its harsh terrain. A number of prominent wineries from outside of the region discovered the un-tapped potential of abandoned vineyards, and after massive investment from pioneers such as Alvaro Palacios, are now producing amazing, complex wines. One such winery is the Casa Gran Del Siurana where the dominant grape, Garnacha, is blended with typical French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to produce a stunning wine called Cruor. The winery’s Gran Cruor, a blend of Syrah with a little Carinena, which has an emphasis on long maceration and barrel aging in new French oak, is a wine to look out for. The arduous terrain and small production of such esoteric wines means that prices are relatively high in comparison to some Spanish wines, yet still a bargain when held up against other limited wines of similar quality from other countries. Whatever your preferred taste in wine maybe, Spain will no doubt have something new, exciting

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and eye opening to offer to those who search out and savour the experience. From light and refreshing whites and roses, through to a myriad of styles of red wines, Spain, while steeped in history, is creating waves in a modern world of wine. With some of the best value wines at almost every level, wine lovers can relish a journey of discovery through the regions of Spain. One notable importer in Hong Kong, who has made it a mission to search out such wines, is Montrose Fine Wines.

Please contact: james@montrose.com.hk (852) 2555-8877

2009 65 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT TO HK GOFLER 2 HK GOLFER・APR/MAY


final shot

Amen Corner: Say a Prayer

2 0 0

Y A R D S

2 1 0

This trio of holes, rounded off by the magnificent par-5 13th, is where Masters Champions are made

Y A R D S

T O T O

T H E

G R E E N

T H E

B L U E

By Alex Jenkins

Rae's Creek forms an intimidating hazard at the always exciting par-5 13th

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“ You get swirling breezes funnelling through and there's such a sense of history about the place,” says Faldo, who sealed two of his Masters victories at Amen Corner, in sudden-death play-offs which both ended on the 11th in 1989 and 1990. “Each hole is so individual: the 11th has really grown and there's the pond to negotiate. The 12th is a brilliant par-3 with a tough angle to the green and the 13th is nearly a 90-degree dogleg and you just can't appreciate the slope of the fairway on television, so you've got to negotiate that and avoid all the other trouble that it has to offer. It's just an extremely difficult set of holes.” The 13th, pictured, is arguably the most exciting hole out there. At only 510-yards it’s a short par-five by modern standards and offers the chance to make amends for earlier errors. Make no mistake however: it is laced with dangers. The tee shot has to be worked hard from right to left to find the fairway. From there comes the dilemma. Lay up short of the Rae's Creek tributary which f lows across the front of the green, or go for the wickedly sloping putting surface in two. "That's part of why Augusta is such a great test of golf," Faldo says. "There's so much history and t hen t here's your own memories of past failures: everything about it is designed to tense your mind and test your nerve.”

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At Ocean Dunes Golf Club, the sea is so close you can almost touch it. There it is as you hole a putt on 9.Then, just to your left, as you tee off on 13. Masters champion Nick Faldo designed the links-style gem, his only course in Vietnam.You’ll love the golf. But be careful: Mother Nature may distract you. The world is talking about golf in Vietnam. See for yourself why Ocean Dunes is ranked at the top. Special Summer packages now available. +84 (62) 823366 • odgc@vietnamgolfresorts.com • www.vietnamgolfresorts.com

Golden Era Golf in Vietnam

AT THE

DALAT PALACE GOLF CLUB

Perched high in the mountains of Vietnam with flawless bent-grass greens sits 18 acclaimed and storied holes of world-class golf. Photography by Rob Brown and Martin Miller

H

erbert Warren Wind, covering the 1958 Masters for Sports Illustrated, used the name of a jazz recording, Shoutin’ in that Amen Corner, as his inspiration for a collective noun for the trio of holes, which had played a significant role in the outcome of that year's championship, won by Arnold Palmer. Since then, Amen Corner has become part of golf folklore. Augusta, during Masters Week at least, is one of the world's most beautiful courses and Amen Corner is its picturesque high point. Eerie, too. With spectators held back behind the 12th tee, the 11th and 12th greens, along with the 13th teebox, can be places of cathedral-like quiet. The three holes, comprising a 505-yard par-4 (the 11th), followed by a 155-yard par-3 and rounded off with a 510-yard par-5, with Rae's Creek entwining itself around and across each of them like a snake waiting to strike, are a demanding test. What makes them so, says England's Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion, is "a mixture of things".

Come play what Golf Digest and Asian Golf Monthly called “The #1 Golf Course in Vietnam” in 2007. Special VIP Summer packages now available.

+84 (63) 821201 dpgc@vietnamgolfresorts.com www.vietnamgolfresorts.com

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HKGolfer0904  

Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters? Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters? Golf in Myanmar Bernhard Langer Major Moments Golf wit...

HKGolfer0904  

Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters? Will a HK golfer ever play at the Masters? Golf in Myanmar Bernhard Langer Major Moments Golf wit...

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