THE country has been engulfed in an atmosphere of great excitement and overwhelming anticipation, borne of a national election that ushered in a new government this week.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the seat of power as the Prime Minister for a second time has been greeted with much warmth and feelings of immense earnestness. It’s been a case of the joys spilling over from within and outside Malaysia’s borders.
The golf industry has equally been absorbed by the turn of events. After all it is a sport that embraces folks from all walks of life, be they decision makers of huge conglomerates or ordinary club players hacking around over the weekend.
Speaking to a cross-section of the stakeholders, a general feeling of optimism emerged with most saying they looked forward to a brighter future and one that they hoped would help grow the industry.
Indeed, it was under Mahathir’s first tenure as head of state that this country enjoyed a golfing boon. Big international tournaments like the men’s and women’s World Cup of Golf were hosted here. The game’s leading players (at the time) visited here. These included Tiger Woods at his very best.
Needless to point out that it was Mahathir who was credited with putting this country on the map of world sports and that included bringing, among other things, Formula 1 to Malaysia.
Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) president Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said of the change: “The people of Malaysia have clearly an unequivocally spoken. A clear mandate for change must reverberate through the stratums of society.
“The golfing industry needs support to lift its status as a major sport-cum-tourist destination.
“The prestigious professional Malaysian Open needs the support of the new administration and we appeal to the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahatir to intervene.
“On behalf of MGA and the golfing fraternity we congratulate Tun on his appointment as our 7th Prime Minister and may he be blessed with many more years of good health to steer Malaysia to greater heights.”
The Mines Resort & Golf Club senior general manager Sharudin (aka Saha) Kamarudin echoed similar sentiments when he said: “These are interesting times for the golf industry because there is a growing feeling of confidence right now.
“This should hold the sport in good stead. It will not only encourage local guests and international visitors to come out and play here, but it should also see more development take place, whether it’s the upgrading of venues, creating new projects or otherwise.
“I know there are many people in the industry who are now looking forward to brighter tomorrow,” he added.
A source within the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The developments of the past week have definitely brought about a sense of confidence and anticipation.
“I would think the golf industry as a whole will be excited by this because one can only imagine that more will be done for it, or at least efforts will be made to improve it.
“The PGM Tour itself is a solid and stable circuit, but there are always ways to improve in life and that is what many will expect from the Tour in the future.”
A 20-handicapper from a local club, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The excitement and expectations that come after this week are huge.
“Golfers are ordinary people, the difference being that they play the sport. So when something like this (new government) happens, we too get excited and encouraged by what the future might hold for the sport.
“I think things will get better and hopefully we will see a few more big international events added to the calendar. Of course, there are three massive international events at the moment – the (European Tour sanctioned) Maybank Championship, the Sime Darby LPGA Tournament and the (US PGA Tour’s) CIMB Classic. But a shot in the arm could yet see even bigger things take place.”
A senior executive with a local retail chain said: “A fever of expectation that has come after the changes has gripped the golf industry and many are hopeful that better things will follow.
“So far as the retail business is concerned we don’t expect much change apart from maybe getting a little better than it is.
“The sport has been doing well and we don’t think much will be altered on the horizon, perhaps with more corporate companies coming into the fold for the first time, and thus, boosting the overall scene.”
If this were the case, it would not come as a surprise – not after the events that unfolded this week and left so many with a feeling of great expectancy.