Talk of redeveloping Hong Kong’s Fanling golf course could further cloud sport’s future in city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 9:31am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 2018, 11:24pm

The Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) is gravely concerned about the call by some quarters of the community that threatens to diminish the city’s golf facilities. Such a move would be most troubling.

Golf is a valuable sport for Hong Kong. About 420,000 rounds of golf were played here in 2017, and the city now has 140 registered professional coaches. We are also witnessing the emergence of promising young golfers such as Tiffany Chan ­Tsz-ching, who represented Hong Kong at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and is the first Hong Kong female golfer to earn full playing rights on the LPGA Tour, and Leon D’Souza, who made the cut at the 2017 Hong Kong Open at age 18.

Just recently, the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation agreed to be a supporting organisation of the Inter-Secondary Schools Golf Tournament. At this critical time, the government should be doing more instead of less to promote the sport.

The HKGA has been working very hard to develop golf and groom top players. Through a territory-wide programme, we provide golf training to more than 500 young students each year.

Golf clubs – the Hong Kong Golf Club in particular – have been most supportive, offering our squad members full access to their facilities and hosting our tournaments. They are also deepening their school outreach efforts.

Stars at the UBS Golf Open 2017

But as we intensify our efforts golf facilities and resources are being depleted. For example, the sport has been adversely impacted by the recent closings of driving ranges.

Discussions about redeveloping the Hong Kong Golf Club’s Fanling site further cloud the sport’s future.

Every year, local golf players represent Hong Kong in more than 25 golf tournaments around the world. Hong Kong hosts 36 major golf tournaments. The Hong Kong Open, one of the world’s top annual tournaments, has been held at the Fanling site for the last 59 years.

Many world-class golfers find it utterly dismaying that Hong Kong would consider building housing on one of the world’s most historic golf tournament venues and, by doing so, destroy a hard-earned heritage envied by many neighbouring cities.

The HKGA hopes that the community will listen, and that – rather than cutting golf facilities – it will instead identify more sites for golf training and tournaments. This is the key to the sustainable development of golf in Hong Kong.

Danny Lai, CEO, Hong Kong Golf Association