Fix club elitism, then real land issues

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 3:16am

I refer to the letter by Keith Williams, general manager of the Hong Kong Golf Club ("Golf club has worked to establish an enviable reputation", September 2).

I am a keen golfer, a member of a Hong Kong golf society and have played at Fanling precisely three times in 18 years.

The waiting list for membership is about 20 years: a debenture costs more than HK$10 million.

Of its three 18-hole courses, non-members are allowed to play on only one (the Old Course) with restricted tee times and on weekdays only.

A round of golf costs about HK$2,000, compared to between HK$450 and HK$700 at the Jockey Club facility in Kau Sai Chau. Neither does the Hong Kong Golf Club lower its rates for golf societies, unlike the courses at Clear Water Bay and Discovery Bay.

The Hong Kong Golf Club does nothing whatever for the average Hong Kong golfer. It is a disgraceful example of the worst kind of elitism.

Yet it is one of the world's oldest golf clubs; is picture-postcard pretty and is surrounded by disused farmland used for illegal car parks, container storage, dumping of construction waste and unplanned and often illegally extended village housing.

So why would you destroy a lovely part of the New Territories while ignoring the unsightly, illegally used land which surrounds it?

The club should have its lease renewed on condition that:

  • It pays an economic rent, given that it has lots of money and can afford it;
  • It is open to the general public at all times at a green fee of HK$500; and
  • It starts, funds and runs clinics for youngsters in order to give our children the chance to learn the game and possibly unearth some local talent. (Not just the "young elite" mentioned by Mr Williams).

It should become a facility for the use of Hong Kong people, not just for a few fat cats.

In the same edition as Mr Williams' letter, you report on 1,000 elderly residents who will have to leave their homes to allow for redevelopment of the land ("New town will leave 1,000 old people without homes", September 2).

Isn't it time that our overpaid, spineless bureaucrats tackled the real problems - the ridiculous small-house policy and the illegal use of New Territories land - rather than just going for the soft targets: a bunch of old people and a rather pretty golf course?

Trevor Hughes, Pok Fu Lam