Fanling golf course must be saved

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 4:17am

Your reports on the Fanling courses of the Hong Kong Golf Club (in which I have no membership interest) have convinced me that the knives are out.

Club members must not just wait for this 124-year historical monument to be obliterated; they must boldly tell Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po - hands off.

He would probably say that because the club has paid no premium for the lease, members would suffer no hardship.

Hong Kong needs to maintain an internationally recognised golf club (the mainland has many), where the Hong Kong Open can continue to be played.

It can only be played at Fanling, which has the oldest course dating back to 1911. Also, the three courses have magnificent trees, many over 100 years old, which should not be felled.

The club has a grade-two historic Half Way House, and a summer lodge for former governors and past and present chief executives. It has many well-maintained ancestral tombs where golfers will often take their caps off to show their respect.

Sadly, the development secretary has sent those who are calling for housing to be built the wrong signals, indicating that the golf club is up for grabs.

The government lease of the Hong Kong Golf Club's Fanling courses can continue without a premium or market rent.

The club can continue in different formats without being branded as being only for the rich to the exclusion of those who could ill-afford membership fees or [as non-members] a hefty green fee.

I offer two solutions to the current impasse.

First, make the club a public golf club, similar to the Jockey Club's courses at Kau Sai Chau, with a different green fee structure charging:

  • Students up to university degree level and seniors aged 65 or over, at a nominal rate;
  • Locals a fee in line with what is charged at Kau Sai Chau; and
  • Existing members at variable subscription fees or to be treated as locals on giving up their membership.

This may sound like a loss-making business proposal, yet Hong Kong as a world city would suffer without a prestigious golf club to host the Hong Kong Open.

Secondly, convert part of the land use into an internationally acclaimed golf school with residential accommodation for academics and students.

This would enable students to be professionally trained in the sport while also receiving a normal school and tertiary education.

Ronald Wong, The Peak