Golf has a reputation as a rich man’s sport – but the reality is anyone can get into it. ‘Beginners can try it on one of the many indoor courses in Hong Kong, then the next step would be to hone their skills at the driving ranges,’ says Stephanie Ho, a pop star who is also a champion amateur golfer.
Small as the city may seem, Hong Kong is home to 10 golf courses – three of them public – an indication of the popularity and potential of the sport in the city. Kenneth Lam, vice president of the Hong Kong Golf Association, says the sport receives great support in the city. ‘We aim to nurture young talent, and part of this is by holding interschool competitions,’ he says. ‘We’re also striving to promote golf to Tier A status for more government funding. After all, we have many talented players, and they have a good chance at the next Asian Games and Olympic Games. We also help promote this sport by hosting activities to get the public to visit the courses to experience it.’
In Hong Kong, there aren’t many professional golfers – Tim Tang was one of the rare examples. Having played since childhood, he has 10 years of professional experience and is now a coach of HKGA’s elite squad. ‘I like golf because it’s an individual game; winning or losing is all about your own performance,’ he says. ‘Then again, this makes it sound like you are all alone but that’s not true. Golf is played as a group, so you are challenged by others and learn from them. It’s also social and each match is long, so you get to know other golfers well.’
Ho says she’s noticed big changes in golf in recent years. ‘When I first started playing over a decade ago, there weren’t that many golfers around, but the scene is much livelier now,’ she says. ‘Although we compete to represent Hong Kong in international games, there is a strong sense of fraternity among us. We all want to enjoy the sport and encourage more people to join us.’
The Hong Kong Open will be held from 22 to 25 November, 2018.