Hong Kong golf course, doomed by airport shopping and hotel expansion, may move to former landfill site

Owners of nine-hole facility, which closes today, eye vacant former landfill site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 3:40am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 3:40am

The operator of a golf course which will make way for the development of Hong Kong International Airport said it was still hopeful the government would allow the facility to reopen at a former landfill site in Tai Po.

The Skycity Nine Eagles Golf Course will close down today after almost eight years of hosting golf development programmes, junior events, and welcoming tourists and local golfers.

The Airport Authority said the site, part of the airport's north commercial district, would be used to accommodate a hotel with some 1,000 rooms, and retail development of some 200,000 square metres.

Vincent Leung Man-to, general manager of the nine-hole course, said he was disappointed the Tai Po option had been caught up in politics.

"Six years ago we heard about the 50-hectare site at Shuen Wan in Tai Po. It is a closed landfill, and after removal of underground gas, it can be used to build a golf course. We expressed our interest through the years but the government never started the tendering process," he said.

A temporary driving range was built on the former landfill in 1999. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Department approved the idea of turning the site into a nine-hole course.

Four years later, the department said it was finalising documents for the tendering process for the design, construction and operation of an 18-hole venue, but the plan went no further.

Leung said the Skycity Nine Eagles course had been promoting golf for all in the community.

Tom Phillips, chief executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said the venue's closure would have an impact on the sport's development, even though the association was able to move its programmes and events to other courses.

"Any time a public golf facility closes, whether it is a golf course or a driving range, it impacts our efforts to grow the game in Hong Kong," Phillips said.

Phillips said the association had regularly discussed with the government the availability of land for new facilities, but had not heard of any plans for a golf course on the former landfill site in Tai Po.

A spokeswoman for the department said it was working on the land disposal arrangement and would reveal details when it was finalised.