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Honma Hong Kong Open

Taking away Hong Kong Golf Club would be detrimental to the development of the game, warns HKGA chief Danny Lai

  • Golf Association has launched a development plan but it needs facility support
  • Hong Kong needs golf courses to host the 2020 world team championships
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2018, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2018, 10:56pm

Taking the Hong Kong Golf Club away for other land use would be detrimental to the game at all levels, a senior official warned on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the government’s final review on land occupied by private sports clubs, Danny Lai, chief executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said it was imperative that they keep the Fanling facility.

Coinciding with the Hong Kong Golf Association’s 50th anniversary, a three-pronged plan was launched to develop golf at all levels – from grass roots level to elite. But Lai said this plan would fail without proper facility support, currently run by the clubs with flagship Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling – occupying the biggest area of 170 hectares – at the fore.

The Fanling facility is one of the 18 options put forward by the government-appointed task force for consultation to help remedy Hong Kong’s chronic shortage of space for housing.

“The clubs have been providing all the training facilities for our players, especially the Hong Kong Golf Club and this is pivotal to the future of golf development in Hong Kong,” said Lai.

“We are now a tier B programme at the Sports Institute and we are working hard to gain tier A status like the elite sports such as cycling, badminton and swimming.

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“We will be trying to send players to major multi-sport games such as the Asian Games, Olympic Games, China National Games and World University Games to help achieve our target of reaching the required benchmark. We have appointed a top coach from the United States, Gary Gilchrist, as the Hong Kong team head coach to help the players.

“At grass roots level, we staged the inter-school competition for secondary schools for the first time this year which will be extended to primary schools under our plan.

“At international level, we will be staging more competitions, including the 2020 world amateur team championships featuring 80 teams from all over the world at a budget of more than HK$10 million. All these plans need the support of facilities.”

The government’s Task Force on Land Supply, appointed by the Chief Executive in September last year, will have its last meeting this month before furnishing a final report, with the future of the three 18-hole courses at the Fanling golf club under scrutiny. The government will decide on whether to keep the facility or demolish it to make way for large scale public housing.

Is Fanling golf club getting ‘picked on’ as Hong Kong debates ways to ease housing shortage?

Another report by the government’s Home Affairs Bureau reviewing the policy on private recreational leases of which the golf clubs are granted the land use, is also about to be released. The six-month public consultation was completed in September and the bureau has received more than 5,000 submissions and is now “collating and analysing the views received”.

The initial report has requested the private clubs pay a land premium in order to keep the land and open up more facilities for sports development.

Lai is pleading that the government keep all facilities for golf because they contribute not only to the benefit of its club members but also to the development of golf in Hong Kong.

As part of its promotional plan, the association invited China’s top women’s player, Feng Shanshan, who occupied the world number one spot from November last year to April, to a sharing session with local junior players and their parents at Olympic House on Sunday.

The 29-year-old from Guangzhou, who has nine LPGA tour wins under her belt, including the 2012 LPGA Championship, has been working with her coach Gilchrist over the past 12 years.

Hong Kong Golf Club vows not to give up any part of Fanling course for housing

“I am very happy to know Gilchrist will be helping the Hong Kong team. He has unique insights on how to best optimise junior golf development and I firmly believe his help can lay a solid foundation for the further development of Hong Kong’s golfing scene,” said Feng.

Gilchrist, whose major focus will be on the enhancement of the association’s training system, will visit Hong Kong once every quarter to conduct training sessions and golf clinics for Hong Kong team members.