Fidel Castro had just become the president of Cuba, Ben Hur was storming the silver screen on his chariot and Gary Player would soon be crowned British Open champion. It was 1959. Earlier that year, in February, a plane transporting Buddy Holly and Richie Valens had gone down in an Iowa snowstorm killing everyone on board. It was 'the day the music died'. That same month, on a cold and wet day at Fanling, 31 players, including nine amateurs, gathered for the first Hong Kong Open. The professionals were vying for a purse of GBP1,000 put up by the South China Morning Post. Among the amateurs was Alan Sutcliffe. 'It was over two days, a Saturday and a Sunday, 36 holes each day and we played the Old Course and the New Course from about 8am until about 5pm,' Sutcliffe reminisces. 'The road outside the club was closed, much to the annoyance of the local villagers, although there weren't so many people living around here in those days. It was concentrated golf over two days.' Sutcliffe, a former top amateur, played 'about eight Opens'. He took a walk back through memory lane - to that year when Hong Kong staged a 'professional' tournament for the first time. 'Most of the professionals came from Australia because Kim Hall, who started it all, used to play in the Philippines Open and knew a lot of Australian players from that event through Eric Cremin, who was the unofficial leader of the Aussie pros. 'Eric said, 'Why don't you have a tournament in conjunction with the Philippines Open and we'll come and support it'. So Kim approached the South China Morning Post and Peter Plumley, who was working there at the time, and they persuaded the management to put up GBP1,000. That's how it all got started,' Sutcliffe says. 'I think the SCMP did it for the first few years and following that, British American Tobacco. But I remember going around with a fellow called Will Bowling, who was captain of the club at the time  and going to various companies on bended knees asking if they would be interested in sponsoring the Open,' laughs Sutcliffe. He remembers how excited he was at the prospect of teeing up with some of the best pros in the region. 'I was absolutely keyed up. I remember playing a practice round with eventual winner Lu Liang-huan. We were playing on the New Course and on the 11th hole, which is the 10th on the Composite Course, I holed my second shot. Everyone leapt up in great excitement. 'It was great fun and a wonderful opportunity. I think I finished on 301, so I didn't disgrace myself.' Apart from taking part as a player, Sutcliffe was also involved on the organisational side. 'We used to have a quiet room at the Hong Kong Golf Club and we took that over as the tournament office. We were all very inexperienced in running tournaments and were consulting various USPGA manuals. It all went off reasonably well, but one learnt a lot from that first tournament. And we improved each year. The Hong Kong Golf Association probably came into being as a result of the Hong Kong Open because it was quite a burden on the club, its members and the management to organise it. It is quite different now with promoters and the tours involved,' says Sutcliffe. The Hong Kong Open has come a long way. Today, the starting field has increased to 138 players and prize money to US$1.2 million. The price of the South China Morning Post might have gone up from 30 cents to $7, but some things will never change, like the Hong Kong Open - and, of course, Castro still being president.