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Fanling golf course is symbol of Hong Kong's diversity, not society's class divide

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 2:46am

Some people have asked why Fanling golf course should remain open.

There are seven golf venues in Hong Kong, five of which are located in the New Territories.

Six courses are operated as private clubs, and only the Kau Sai Chau course in Sai Kung is public. But it is important to note that Fanling (as well as Deep Water Bay) offers public access as well, not only for Hongkongers but for international visitors.

Public golf courses are an essential feature for any city that relies on international trade.

Even in a desert climate such as Dubai, the government approves extensive and expensive irrigation systems to sustain golf courses for publicity and/or economic development reasons.

In America it is the most popular leisure sport. In Asia - for example, in South Korea - children have access to golf classes from an early age, and practice ranges dot the country, including on some college campuses.

These phenomena converge to one point; that is golf - as with many other sports and games - has evolved from a gentleman's game reserved for a privileged few to a mass activity. To encourage the public to see golf as a prototype of class divide is to sweep historical perspective into the rubbish bin and to discourage the public to understand social issues from a proper angle.

Golf's popularity in Korea is not only a sign of the country's rising quality of life, but also evidence of its evolution away from industry and towards a service-based economy.

Hong Kong shed its industrial base long ago, yet its tourism offerings do not seem to be evolving.

Indeed, Hong Kong's diversity is in decline, as local flavours and urban contexts yield to retailers of pricey brands. With the prospect of Fanling's golf course disappearing, the problem of Hong Kong's homogenous consumerism comes into sharp focus.

Needs and preferences may change. Consumerism may lose its allure, or China's free-spending tourists may retreat. However, open green space, responding to a deep and universal yearning in human nature, will always be in demand. What we must remember is that once the golf course is closed and built over, it can never be regained.

It is the government's responsibility to keep Hong Kong's social problems, such as the income gap or the apparently permanent housing shortage, separate from the city's international appeal, on which we all to some extent depend.

Elsha Yiu, Pok Fu Lam

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mikecheung99@gmail.com
You have got to be kidding me... symbol of "diversity"?! why keep the courses private then??!
This is the absolute worst argument yet, and I'm willing bet the author realizes it as well. Grasping at straws... I wonder how she sleeps at night.
captam
@Six courses are operated as private clubs, and only the Kau Sai Chau course in Sai Kung is public.
So the conclusion to your article should have been: Keep the Fanling course but discontinue the private club status and open it fully to the public with unrestricted access.
fsk999
Little round objects and I don't mean golf balls! Golf is no more a sport than is snooker (discuss). Nobody is suggesting that the HKGC (the club that chickened out, unlike it's yachting counterpart, and dropped Royal from its title) should close or lose it's HK Open Course but that its other courses be put to better use.
rpasea
"Public golf courses are an essential feature for any city that relies on international trade."
This is the most ridiculous reason imaginable for the continuation of private golf courses in Hong Kong. I have nothing against golf and like to play a round myself from time to time. The issue regarding Fanling and the other private courses is: why are they still private? Make them all public courses all the time or take back the land for other uses. Problem solved.

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