Local courses helping put China series on PGA radar

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 23, 2019
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Quincy Quek of Singapore competes during 2019 PGA TOUR Series China·Haikou Championship in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province, China, April 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

As the gateway to the big-money North American circuit, the PGA Tour Series-China is a key component of golf's growth here.

With over a dozen events across the country annually, the series offers Chinese golfers the chance to test themselves against international competition, with the ultimate goal of earning a berth on the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly Web.com Tour), a stepping stone to the PGA Tour proper.

Last week the series visited Nansha Golf Club in Guangdong province for the Guangzhou Open, earning a resounding thumbs-up from one of the club's most distinguished members: Timothy Tsun Ting Fok, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee.

"Golf in China is still growing, and top international events here are just getting started," Fok said last week during of the ninth stop on the PGA Tour Series-China.

"In the future we will introduce more events into China in order to groom more talent and create more room for golf communication.

"Just like the Guangzhou Open, golfers from all over the world are gathered here. It's about great performances as well as friendship. Such events open opportunities for growth, and that is why we created this golf club."

The Guangzhou Open was due to be the first event at Nansha to offer world ranking points, however the shortening of the tournament ultimately denied the players this added bonus.

As chairman of the Fok Ying Tung Group that owns one of the club's developers, Fok is proud to declare the club was built to international standards back in the early '90s.

Officially opened in 1997, the club's two 18-hole Mountain and Valley courses were designed by the renowned John Jacobs and are rated among the nation's best, boasting a total of 36 available greens.

"It's a privilege for Nansha Golf Club to welcome top golfers from all over the world," said Fok. "I hope there will be more collaboration between the Chinese and foreign golf communities. It will boost the development of our club."

As a training base for youth golf in Guangzhou, Nansha is also dedicated to nurturing local talent, with the club counting former women's world No 1 Feng Shanshan among some of the renowned players to have graced its greens in the past.

Indeed, rather than being a bastion of the elite, the club prides itself on opening its doors to all golf lovers.

"We want to learn from the public golf club system in foreign countries to provide local people with a low entry barrier, to enjoy the game," said Fok.

Making the sport more accessible also feeds into the PGA's thinking.

"We hold junior clinics at our tournaments and at schools to introduce kids to golf," Rob Ohno, senior vice-president of the PGA Tour's international tours section, told China Daily last month.

"They will never know if they're interested in the sport or if they have an aptitude for it unless they try. We need to expose more kids to the game, providing them with access.

"We have programs for juniors at all our events in China, giving them chances to play in the pro-ams.

"We need to work together with the China Golf Association and local governments to attract more kids to the game."

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