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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 2:21am
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DEVELOPMENT

Fears golf will suffer if Fanling course is redeveloped for housing in Hong Kong

Golf leaders say if the land in the New Territories is redeveloped for housing, the sport - and the Hong Kong Open tournament - will suffer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 July, 2013, 2:41pm
 

Local golf may have a bleak future and the Hong Kong Open professional tournament is at risk if the courses at Fanling are lost to new-town development, say leaders of the sport in the city.

William Chung Pui-lam, president of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said growth of the game - recently made an Olympic sport - would suffer if the Hong Kong Golf Club's three-course, 170-hectare facility at Fanling were lost to housing.

"Any disruption would certainly have a detrimental effect [on the development of the game in Hong Kong]," he said.

Chung is the first senior golf official to comment on suggestions that the club's land in the northeastern New Territories be redeveloped for housing.

Chung, a member of the club, was last month re-elected for a second stint as president of the association. He refused to comment on the future of the open, but said support from golf clubs was vital for the growth of the game.

The Hong Kong Golf Club has refused to comment, but will address the issue at a committee meeting on Monday. "We are currently reviewing all the information and will be making a formal statement soon," said general manager Keith Williams.

Members said the future of the Fanling site was a "very sensitive issue", a "huge concern" and potentially "a devastating blow".

Golf commentator Dominique Boulet, a former Hong Kong representative and a member of the club for almost 30 years, said: "If we lost the Hong Kong Golf Club, I'm not sure I would live here any more."

One club member questioned the government's motives, saying: "There are other tracts of land available."

He said he hoped "cooler heads will prevail".

Another long-time golfer said: "It would be a devastating blow to the Hong Kong Open if we lost the Hong Kong Golf Club. This tournament is the oldest open in Asia to have been played continuously at one venue [Fanling] … just imagine if we lost it."

The club's lease on the Fanling site expires in 2020, but the government can reclaim the land by giving 12 months' notice.

The club was founded in 1889 in Happy Valley and the Old Course was created in Fanling in 1911. It is the second-oldest course in the world outside Britain, after the Royal Calcutta Golf Club's course in India.

Reports that a compromise could be reached in which the Hong Kong Golf Club would give up a section of Fanling - most likely the Old Course - have not been confirmed.

"I have not heard anything about giving up one of the courses as a compromise," Chung said.

There are 90 golfers in Hong Kong's international team who use the courses at Fanling to train and play.

Hong Kong coach Brad Schadewitz said: "We need more golf facilities and not less. If we lose the facilities at Fanling, it will have a major impact on the game.

"This is the case in any sport, but more so in golf, simply because there are so few courses."

The association has around 16,000 members on a handicap, and there are thousands more who don't have a handicap but play the game.

Hong Kong has four private golf clubs - the Hong Kong Golf Club, the Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, the Discovery Bay Golf Club and the Shek O Golf & Country Club. There is one public course at Kau Sai Chau, off Sai Kung.

Hong Kong has 688 hectares of golf courses, less than half of Singapore's 1,500 hectares, which are spread over 18 courses.

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19

This article is now closed to comments

henleyhk
This is a no-brainer. The need for decent living conditions at affordable prices in HK is far greater than the need for golfing facilities for a few of HK's millionaires/billionaires. If Fanling were a public course, or if the club were paying a commercial rent for its facilities, the answer might be different; but the current position is indefensible.
rpasea
If the Hong Kong Golf Association really wanted to promote the sport, and not just save existing facilities for a small group of elite members, their position would be to open all courses to the public. Fanling, Deepwater Bay, Clearwater Bay, Shek O and Disco Bay can all be public courses in 12 months if govt had a backbone.
Regarding the HK Open, isn't this the event govt paid big bucks for a certain golfer to attend but the event wasn't open to the public?
John Adams
I fully agree with henleyhk !
Why should the hobby of a few rich people take precedence over the housing and public park needs of tens of thousands of local people ?
benny1104
House pricing is too expensive in Hong Kong, there are many place in China where you could play golf and probably better services at a economic price. The land could save lots of Hong Kong people, some of them whom still live in cage house with high education and suffering financial problem to keep going with their life. Our housing issue is getting bigger problem than we thought and we need lands to solve the current issue. If this entertainment could only affordable for rich people and the poor would request land to live and shall they also afford to travel to thailand or mainland to play golf as well ?
daniel18
Our government should be affrimative when it comes to dealing with such urgent issue as skyrocketing property prices, in particular for those living in cubicle. It should identify the gravity of the problem. Home for those in dire need VS golf field for the rich! It is too obvious!
aplucky1
the wealthy members of this club can take their helicopters to sz to play golf
or possibly give a similar tract of land for free to the government to develop if they are so concerned
mcheung
We need land to build affordable housing. At the same time, we also need leisure open space for our citizens. The current infrastructure, roads, rails etc. cannot support a huge residential development in the golf course land. Why not open up ALL, not just the Fanling, golf course in Hong Kong to the public at an affordable price, definitely not 2,000.00 per day as the current practice at the Fanling course. This will ensure the sport of golf is sustained and more Hong Kong people can enjoy the game.
John Adams
I fully agree !
Why should the hobby of a few rich people take precedence over the housing and public park needs of tens of thousands of local people ?
2crazy4words
HK has so few golf courses and the public one at KSC is full to capacity virtually everyday of the week. The primary issue here is elitism and the peppercorn rents the clubs pay to remain exclusive. At the end of their leases make the courses public. The existing members can still play there but so can the golfing public. The environment is protected and many more people can enjoy the game. There are plenty of alternative sites but not so many with such political leverage. Consider the issues and don't turn this into a class struggle.
onedistrict
Fear is natural. For a place that has no PGA or WPGA player, taking golf lessons across the border at Shenzhen or Guangzhou may yield significantly better results.
flaw
This is a classic case of "let them eat cake" mentality of the 1% in HKG where the wealth gap is ridiculous. I suggest they should also repatriate Beas River as well. How can one justify maintaining a privileged outpost at the expense of common good? HKG dies not have a lot of other recreational venues as polo grounds, an American football facility etc etc. the list can go on and on. Should we cater to the vociferous minority interest groups (who happens to be rich) and let the masses suffer? That's a recipe for social unrest (see French Revolution)
chaz_hen
Golf courses and cemeteries...biggest needless wastes of land.
I propose solving three of Hong Kong's pressing issues: dig a huge pit, dump all the ashes of HK's deceased in it along with non recyclables, fill it up and then put a 9-hole course on top.
jaminhard
Unfortunately, it is natural and convenient to dangerously use the 'rich / poor' divide as a crux for the Fanling Golf Course debate.
Giving up Fanling Golf Course to housing, simply because it is an exclusive club is NOT the answer. It sets a dangerous precedence. We must preserve ANY recreational use space where possible. The minute we rezone recreational land as residential, there is no going back. Hong Kong loses another patch of 'green'. Instead, let’s work on ways to open that residential space up to allow more people to enjoy it.
Yet, private sponsorship of recreational space MUST exist in Hong Kong. It’s this which fuels the diversity and broadness of recreational provision in Hong Kong. The principal includes equally the expensive golf club or the BMX track.
I not agree that the private and exclusive nature of the club is a valid argument for rezoning that space to public housing.
Better focus would be the use of existing non-recreational land in Hong Kong.
Take, Chai Wan for example. A classic warehouse district in gentrification. With a potential to become revitalised as a trendy residential district akin to say the Docklands in London.
How about the many acres assigned to the Hong Kong Garrison of the People's Liberation Army. Prime land space in Hong Kong sitting derelict and empty, for a non-existent army.
Let's focus on fixing the real issues in Hong Kong, instead of picking petty arguments whenever we can.
henleyhk
Dear, oh dear, oh dear. By all means preserve open spaces for recreation, but make them open to all, not the exclusive preserve of memebrs of a private club who pay a peppercorn rent. HK does not have enough land for such egregious execesses. Charge them a commercial rent and let the market decide what is the best use for the land. Decent living conditions for some of those currently living in squalor, much to HK's shame, or cocktails on the terrace served by stewards in starched white livery?
ianson
The patch of green offered by the course is a plus for the environment. Let's not see it turned into another concrete canyon.
likingming
Only a fool would say " Hong Kong land for HKers"
Amazing if we could say "China land for HKers"
jaminhard
"Golf will suffer if Fanling course is redeveloped for housing in Hong Kong!'
In fact:
"HONG KONG WILL SUFFER if Fanling is redeveloped."
People here, should be careful what they wish for.
You may feel smug at winning the apparent battle against the 'rich', but you lose the real war against the general erosion of Hong Kong's green.
henleyhk
If HK's green is not accessible for 99.9% of the population to enjoy, then redevelopment of the green into housing with dignity for the 99.9% is a win for the 99.9%
goncalo
I am shedding a little tear for the future of golf in HK.

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