Who says golf's for the elite? Cheap clubs go a long way, golfer says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 3:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 5:10am

Golf is not a sport just for the privileged, the Hong Kong Golf Club president says in a proud recollection of "hole-in-one" achievements he made using a "cheap" club.

Marvin Cheung Kin-tung once counted among the teammates of world No 1 Tiger Woods in a pro-am golf competition in Shanghai a few years ago.

He often practised with cheap clubs, the 66-year-old experienced amateur golfer said, but had scored a hole-in-one five times.

"If one thinks an expensive club will help him play better, he is wrong," he said. "The key is to be attentive. You have no time to enjoy the beautiful scenery."

Cheung started playing in his 20s, when he was nominated as a club member by his boss at a big accounting firm. "My first club cost below a hundred dollars and was bought on discount at a department store."

He achieved his latest hole-in-one in 2010 with a cheap club, he said.

"The club was stored in my friend's garage in Scotland. I was disappointed when my friend told me it had been stolen by a burglar. But a few hours later it was recovered by the police. It was so cheap that even a thief didn't want it," he laughed.

"The activity doesn't cost you much except the transport fee. There's free water available in the club. I didn't hire a caddie when I was young. I can play two rounds, 36 holes, all alone."

First attracted by a golf programme on television, Cheung said he fell in love with the sport because it was played on spacious land in a crowded city. He said membership fees at the time were not unaffordable - similar to the charges of a tennis club.

He refuted public criticism that the club was too exclusive: "It opens to visitors on weekdays. We have to reserve the weekends for members because of the limited capacity of the courses. We also open a course to indigenous villagers living nearby for free, as long as they register."

Visitors played more than 32,000 rounds on the three Fanling courses in 2012, the club said.

But the courses were not designed for beginners, he said. Each player must have obtained a handicap certificate.

The club welcomes non-member Hongkongers on weekdays at HK$1,200 per round in the first year and HK$500 if they play after 3pm. The greens fee rises to HK$2,000 and HK$1,000, respectively, after 12 rounds.