• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am
CommentLetters

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

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

Really? Why? Because the mainland has many? Or in spite of the mainland having many? I don't give a toss about the Hong Kong Open, and neither does 99.9% of the population if you ask me. Despite all the publicity about these plans, I haven't seen the public plan a march, collect signatures or establish a pressure group to preserve the course. Instead, I see widespread enthusiasm for the idea, bar a few objecting Letters to the Editor in the SCMP from people living in places like The Peak, no doubt written in the comfort of multi-1000 square foot luxury homes.

The Hong Kong Open is an elitarian affair, with the biggest benefits going to the well-paid players (they get paid just to show up at this tournament, go figure!) and the clients of the sponsor, the bank of choice for the mega-wealthy, UBS.

You state that Hong Kong would suffer if we can't host the Hong Kong Open anymore. How is that exactly? In what way? I can't imagine any meaningful impact the loss of a minor golf tournament would have on the city.

And the proposal to make it a public course is all very touching, but the public wants housing, offices, basketball courts, football pitches, perhaps tennis, but certainly not cake. I mean, not golf.
keresearch
But at moment as an outsider you can only phone up and book after 15.00 hours the day before for just one of the three courses - and as you don't know the available slots, even public access today it is a mere facade - for green fees of HKD 3,600 a pair. we have ten courses already. Look at google maps and you will see teh huge swathe of flat green land next to KCR and Tolo Highway.
honkiepanky
Providing greater access to the public, free or otherwise, misses the point. 95% of the population does not play golf at all.
rpasea
Make every private golf course public: Shek O, Disco Bay, Deepwater Bay, Clearwater Bay. And Fanling.
impala
Land in Hong Kong is not private property.

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