Pro Roberts joins the club

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 1995, 12:00am

A NEW chapter in the 106-year history of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club will be opened today when Iain Roberts assumes the role of head professional.

Englishman Roberts was selected from hundreds of applicants to take over from the retiring Joe Hardwick in one of the most prestigious and demanding club professional jobs in the world.

'It is a wonderful opportunity and a great challenge,' said 36-year-old Roberts, who arrived in the territory last week after 12 years as head professional at the Muswell Hill Golf Club in north London.

Roberts, who has brought with him 20-year-old David Freeman on a 12-month special assignment, said servicing the needs of the members and standardising teaching methods among the club's existing professionals will be high on his list of priorities.

Roberts said: 'Royal Hong Kong is among the top-10 golf clubs in the world and I want to help it become the number one in all aspects. I will be working on preparations to take the club into the next century.' Roberts was aged just six when Hardwick, better known as 'Joe the Pro', took up his appointment as Royal Hong Kong's first full-time club professional.

'When I came to Hong Kong in August 1965 I never imagined I would stay for as long as I have,' said Hardwick, who will celebrate his 63rd birthday in June.

'I'm proud to have been the pro at such a famous club that is steeped in such history and tradition for such a long time.' Hardwick, whose daughter Joann is a teaching professional at the club, said his immediate plans were to play golf and travel before choosing where to settle with his wife, Shirley.

During his three decades at Fanling, Hardwick has made a major contribution to popularising the sport in the territory.