AS we start the new season, TeeUp spoke to a wide range of personalities selected randomly from within the local golf industry, seeking their views on how 2018 turned out and what the next 12 months might hold in store for us.
The exercise was undertaken by way of asking two simple questions:
Q1: What is your view of 2018 in terms of golf?
Q2: What might 2019 hold in store for the sport?
As expected, the answers were varied and in some cases for totally different reasons. But however contrasting they may have been, most retained a positive outlook for the new season.
Following are excerpts of the answers put forward:
Tan Sri Azman Hashim
Chairman, AmBank Group
The year just past was a positive one for us in that for the 13th consecutive year the Group sponsored the AmBank SportExcel International Junior Championship 2018. The tournament held at the Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, in Shah Alam, Selangor saw about 150 juniors from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand take part.
The championship is part of the Asia Pacific Junior Golf Association Series that carries World Amateur Ranking and Junior Scoreboard points. It is an excellent platform for the leading juniors from the Asia-Pacific region to compete against their peers while building relationships with golfers from other nations.
The event was indeed very competitive and augurs well for the development of junior golf in the region. I hope that more junior will follow in the footsteps of our No 1 golfer Gavin Green, who is playing on the European Tour, It would be nice to see other young Malaysian juniors play on the international stage.
We at AmBank Group believe that by giving support to youth training programmes, it will help unearth new talent. I believe we have evidence of that in many of our young golfers who have shown vast improvement, hence, grassroots development and excellence related programmes such as 13th AmBank Group-SportExcel International Junior Championship will go a long way in developing young golfers and elevating golf to a higher level.
Chief executive officer, MST Golf
2018 was generally an exciting year with Tiger Woods finally coming back to win again. The year started well for Malaysia with the third EurAsia Cup and then the Maybank Championship. The mood turned a bit pessimistic with the cancellation of the Sime Darby LPGA and we saw the last edition of the CIMB Classic. But what we can do is thank the sponsors of those events who not only brought us two world-class tournaments, but also played a significant role in globally presenting Malaysia as a progressing nation, able to host major sporting events. On our part last year, MST Golf opened the largest indoor technical fitting and teaching centre – the PJ Federal Highway outlet, designed to meet the expectations of maturing golf consumers.
It appears this year might be more challenging with the current mood entering the New Year. But with Tiger roaring back, consumers can look forward to more technology packed equipment, especially in drivers. I would like to see more corporate companies use golf, which is a very powerful tool, as one of their marketing platforms, to position and achieve marketing objectives.
I am also hopeful that Malaysia can bring back one of the big golf tournaments and continue to promote the sport on an international stage. I hope Tiger can stay healthy and can’t wait to see him winning his 15th Major. I would also like to thank our 80,000-strong ilovegolf members for their continued supports and wish everyone a healthy and happy brand New Year 2019.
Tang Meng Loon
Director of Club Operations & Townships, Gamuda
For the golf industry as a whole 2018 was challenging. The expectations of golfers are getting higher nd the landscape is as competitive as ever. These two key factors have pushed us to strive harder to constantly raise our standards and take the lead in terms of golf course quality, services and operational excellence for both golf clubs – Kota Permai and Horizon Hills. One of our missions is for both clubs to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage in the golf business.
I’m optimistic that the golf business will remain promising in 2019 and I anticipate some growth in turnover despite the gloomy forecast. Golf tourism is a highly competitive and therefore golf clubs need to work closely with Tourism Malaysia and tour operators in promoting the country as a golfing destination. We need to provide better packages that are more attractive and that trump other destinations in the region. All golf clubs should constantly improve their course’s playing conditions and service structures to stay competitive.
Head of Sales, TV Advertising (Indian), Media Sales, Astro
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the year for me personally was Tiger Woods’ victory at the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour. The world of golf and the Malaysian golf industry in general needed that boost of energy and Woods went a long way to doing that with his win.
So far as the coming season is concerned, 2019 should be a year where golf is encouraged and promoted more to the masses. More amateur events should be held and promoted aggressively. It was sad to see the demise of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event and the CIMB Classic. However, it would be great if the Malaysian Open returns after a hiatus of three years. We at Astro will do our best to promote amateur golf participation via our annual event, the Astro Masters.
General manager, Golf Malaysia Magazine
I believe 2018 was a good year for golf in Malaysia. It will be remembered for playing host to some of the biggest international events around. Having hosted the third edition of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB Hicom, this was by itself a great feat and showcased what Malaysia has to offer. The Maybank Championship was also successfully held and the US PGA Tour CIMB Classic too. And while the latter has now been scrapped, it was an achievement that none of the other Asean countries managed. We also saw the opening of Forest City Golf Club in Johor which is now among the best courses in the country. With such investments made in golf, I believe the industry as a whole will continue to strengthen. Our golf tourism industry has the potential for further growth if managed and promoted properly.
For the year ahead there seems to be a sense of uncertainty, but a comeback of the Malaysian Open would help quash that. I also think the golf industry should regroup and look into the development of the amateur game.
We need to garner more interest and entice more Malaysians to pick up the sport.
It’s time for the leaders of the Malaysian golf industry to put aside their personal interests and actually do something about the development and future of the sport.
Vice-president & Rules Sub-committee chairman, Malaysian Golf Association
Last year was a somewhat busy one for us in the rules sub-committee and there were many highlights. Much of it had to do with preparations for the new rules that were implemented on Jan 1, 2019.
I welcome the overhaul changes made to the ever complicated Rules of Golf because now it becomes a lot more easier to understand and apply at all levels of play. Surely we will encounter some issues with players on the correct procedures in applying the new rules either in social or competitive play. The MGA has been particularly busy since August 2018 working in collaboration with the R&A to educate golfers, officials and other stakeholders by organising presentations, new rules seminars all over the country. There is still much more to be done to spread the news about the new rules but we are confident that it will be a good 2019.