Four of Asia’s most-exceptional golfing venues - Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club in Malaysia, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam, Sapporo Country Club and The North Country Golf Club, both in Japan - have become part of Asian Tour Destinations.
All four are award-winning venues, with a history of hosting world-class tournaments, and join a select group of members at Asian Tour Destinations – which is an exclusive network of elite golf clubs with direct ties to the Asian Tour. Earlier this year Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand; Classic Golf & Country Club in New Delhi, India; and Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, became part of the emerging network. They joined Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore - which was the first golf club to sign up in 2015. Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour, said: “Asian Tour Destinations is flourishing and now boasts eight of the finest golf clubs in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asian Tour is delighted to welcome the latest additions to this exclusive membership body.
“The main objective of Asian Tour Destinations is to provide an affiliate membership programme between the associated venues and the Asian Tour - which will drive sustainable growth and development for the betterment of golf in our region as a whole.”
Horizon Hills is one of the great golfing facilities in Southern Malaysia and has hosted three editions of the Iskandar Johor Open where Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won in 2010, Dutchman Joost Luiten in 2011 and Spaniard Sergio Garcia triumphed the following year. “Within a short space of time, since our opening in 2008, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club has become a household name in the regional golf industry,” said Tang Meng Loon, Director, Club, Townships & Property Management, Horizon Hills. “It was therefore a logical step for us to become part of Asian Tour Destinations – which is a platform that will allow us to further build our brand in the region and beyond.”
Laguna Lăng Cô Resort boasts the distinction of having Sir Nick Faldo’s first Signature Design open for play and it is the home of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final - which is hosted by Sir Nick himself every year. The Asian Tour has been a long-time supporter of the Faldo Series, which has helped to grow the game of golf globally. Laguna Lăng Cô is an integrated golf and beach resort and is part of the Banyan Tree Group. It is the first golf course in Vietnam to be Earth Check Gold Certified. Adam Calver, Director of Golf, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô said, “Vietnam continues to be at the forefront of golf expansion and development in the region and we are very proud that Laguna Golf Lăng Cô is a contributor in this evolution. We appreciate the work the Asian Tour continues to do to grow the game here and Asian Tour Destinations is a perfect fit for us and supports our resorts future plans and ambitions.”
Sapporo Country Club and The North Country Golf Club, both located in Hokkaido, are the first golf clubs from Japan to join the Asian Tour Destinations fold. “This is an exciting development for Sapporo Country Club: to align ourselves with the Asian Tour Destinations programme. And to have the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with some of the other premier golfing venues in Asia will prove invaluable,” said Yamazaki Shigeki, President, Sapporo Country Club. The North Country Golf Club has been the home of The Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup on the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) since 2005.
Their championship course was designed by Japan legend Isao Aoki – the winner of 51 titles on the JGTO and the first player from Japan to win on the PGA Tour, at the Hawaiian Open in 1983. Yasuhiro Ota from The North Country Golf Club said, “The North Country Golf Club is proud of its long association with The Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup – which demonstrates the club’s desire to connect with the game of golf at the highest level. Our involvement with Asian Tour Destinations provides us with a similar pathway for us to improve and reach the highest standards, operationally and commercially.”
Being a part of the Asian Tour Destinations network means that each venue is certified Tour calibre and operates a comprehensive range of facilities and services to their members and guests under tournament-ready conditions all-year round.
Among the core benefits, Asian Tour members will be able to play and practice at each venue, allowing for the members at each club to enjoy direct engagement with the region’s best golfers.
Main Photograph : Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam
With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, there seems to be some glimmer at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Perhaps soon, the citizens of the world will be able to resume some semblance of normal life eschewing, to some extent, the new norms that we have been forced to adopt since the outbreak of the pandemic. Though it seems highly likely that the new norms are here to stay.
Like an unexpected tsunami, this contagion has seized the world in a powerful and unstoppable wave that refuses to be tamed, causing more ripples as news of new variants surge and engulfs the world in despair again. This pesky virus has practically held every economic sector to ransom, and many businesses have succumbed under the weight of its many pressures. The golf industry, too, has not been spared.
Not a single major tournament has been played in Malaysia, nay, in Asia, since the Bandar Malaysia Open in March 2020. The lucrative Asian Tour, where golf professionals, especially Asians, ply their trade, has virtually come to a standstill, as has the secondary Asian Developmental Tour.
In Malaysia, the sustainable growth of golf clubs is linked closely to the hospitality industry's sustainability; hence, the closure of hotels and restrictions in air travel has largely impacted the golf industry, particularly on the golf clubs that depend on inbound tourism.
Since March 2020, some 16 golf clubs nationwide had to be closed for sanitization after members were tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen of those clubs were in the Klang Valley, while the rest in Negri Sembilan, Perak and Johor.
These clubs include Tropicana Golf and Country Club, Kelab Rahman Putra, Sungai Long Golf and Country Club, Impian Golf and Country Club, Royal Selangor Golf Club, TPC KL, Kelab Golf Negara Subang, Danau Golf Club, Staffield Country Resort, Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, Mines Resort Golf Club, Sultan Aziz Shah Golf and Country Club, Kota Permai Golf & Country, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club, Templer Park Country Club and Royal Perak Golf Club.
All amateur events have also been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) periodically, depending on the situation, releases Mandatory Standard Operating Procedures for golf clubs and golfers. The MGA has come out with protocols necessitating all caddies to wear gloves and masks at all times and, in its latest update, required all clubs to have a plastic divider in the buggies to minimise contact with those sharing one.
In a statement, MGA president Admiral Tan Sri Datuk Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said the clubs could continue to do course maintenance but with a limited workforce. Golf tournaments can only be permitted at golf clubs located in areas under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), subject to a maximum of 100 players and ongoing movement restrictions. No prize-giving or gatherings are permitted. Twin-sharing buggy usage is permitted in CMCO states provided there is a plastic separator attached between the riders. Changing rooms can be opened but at 30% capacity.
Golf tournaments, however, are prohibited in areas under the Movement Control Order (MCO), namely Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang, and single buggy usage is mandatory. Changing rooms must also remain closed. However, the MGA announced recently that golf clubs in MCO areas would be able to operate at 100% capacity for tee times and driving ranges. This is, of course, good news for golfers, but it would be imperative for everyone concerned to adhere to the required SOPs. Basically, don’t take unnecessary chances.
While golfers continue to be allowed to play in some regions of Asia, the pandemic pinch is being felt by many golf clubs and golf businesses across the region. According to research done by the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), golf courses are currently open for play to varying degrees in Malaysia, Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Myanmar, Singapore, India, South Korea and Taiwan. The status of golf courses remains unclear in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and North Korea.
In some countries, the effects on the golf clubs that are still shut down are crippling. This also affects golf businesses, and inevitably clubs and businesses are being forced to lay-off staff.
Some golf clubs allow maintenance teams to continue keeping the courses in good shape while maintaining COVID-19 distancing and hygiene practices so that when the bans are lifted, the courses will become playable immediately.
In all these years, golf in this region has survived countless economic turmoil; the Asian crisis in the late nineties and the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. It remains to be seen how Asia survives the mayhem that the pandemic has evoked.
Garmin recently launched the MARQ Golfer, the latest addition to the MARQ Collection of modern tool watches, built with authenticity and functionality, an outward expression of one’s personality, interests and ambitions. MARQ Golfer is the only modern tool watch that combines everyday smart features, Garmin’s most advanced golfing and top multisport capabilities.
Designed to be worn on and off the course, MARQ Golfer is built with premium materials, a 46-millimeter titanium case and ceramic bezel with custom etched 1-18 golf hole markings and a tritone green jacquard-weave nylon strap. The luxury watch comes preloaded with 41,000 golf courses and allows for seamless game-tracking. It boasts an array of features to help enhance a golfer’s game, such as PlaysLike Distance, Hazard View and a Virtual Caddie to analyse critical factors like wind speed, course layout, and a golfer’s speed and a golfer’s club performance to select the best suited club for each shot. MARQ Golfer celebrates those who have a passion for the game of golf.
MARQ Golfer features a domed sapphire lens and an always-on, sunlight-readable display. The watch is packed with premium smartwatch functionality, including built-in music storage, Garmin Pay for contactless payments, smart notifications, daily activity tracking, as well as wrist-based heart rate and a wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor.
Compatible with Garmin’s QuickFit watch band solution, it’s quick and easy to change between different straps and bracelets. For over a decade, Garmin has built products to enhance the golfing experience – from GPS watches to swing sensors, club tracking systems and rangefinders – and the MARQ Golfer gives players yet another tool to play their best game.
As the only modern tool watch on the market with smart features and advanced golf game tracking data, MARQ Golfer is a timepiece that sets the standard in style and function both on and off the course. In addition to the beautifully crafted design and comfortable fit on the wrist, MARQ Golfer shines in its precise ability to help strategize and fine tune a golfer’s game. Preloaded with more than 41,000 golf courses worldwide and full-colour CourseView mapping right on the wrist, it’s easy to quickly determine distances to the front, middle and back of the green. The watch uses the PlaysLike Distance option to adjust yardages to compensate for uphill and downhill shots, and with Hazard View golfers can quickly scroll through each hazard on the map to acquire critical distance information and know exactly what to avoid during play.
Additionally, MARQ Golfer utilises an Autoshot round analyzer to measure and record detected shot distances. 5 Included in the box, MARQ Golfer comes with three Approach CT10 club tracking sensors for advanced tracking capabilities, including locations, distances and club type. Featuring an internal, rechargeable lithium battery, MARQ Golfer provides up to 12 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to three rounds of golf on one charge.
The tournament which is usually the first Major of the year is now the final Major of the year. This week, from 12-15 November, the venerable Augusta National Golf Club gets ready to host the most prominent major amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Masters was first postponed from its usual April date, it also gave defending champion Tiger Woods a longer period to hold on to the green jacket.
The year’s edition of The Masters is going to look different. For one, there will be no azaleas, and the course will play differently. It is also likely that the temperatures will be cooler, so players will possibly layer up. The sun will rise around 7 a.m. (the same as April) but will set two hours earlier at 5.30 p.m.
It will not have the patron-friendly and fun Par 3 Contest. And in another break from tradition, golfers will tee-off from both the first and tenth holes in the first two rounds. Also, this year, fans will be able to see every shot on every hole online. As there will be no patrons on the golf course, The Masters website has introduced a feature that allows fans to build a personalized feed of every shot of the player of choice.
As for the 7,475-yard layout, in April players play on ryegrass and putt on bentgrass greens. In September the rye overseed was introduced while the Bermuda grass was shaved, so a November Masters will see players playing on rye and Bermuda from tee to green.
On the Monday pre-tournament round, lots of attention was centred on defending champion Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau, the U.S. Open champion and PGA Tour driving distance leader. During the practice round, DeChambeau constantly outdrove Woods and the rest, unleashing one bomb after another. He averaged 299.6 yards (26th in the field) off the tee in the 2019 Masters.
Currently, in the 2020-21 season, he is averaging 344.4 yards.
A total of nine Asian players will be in the field this year. Six times Asian Tour winner Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand will be making his Masters Tournament debut this year along with several other players including Chinese Taipei C.T. Pan, who garnered an invite after winning the 2019 RBC Heritage. Four Korean players including first-time Masters Tournament invitees Sungjae Im (who the 2020 Honda Classic), Sung Kang (who the AT&T Byron Nelson), and Byeong Hun An and 2017 Players Championship winner Si Woo Kim playing for the fourth time, will be vying for the coveted Green Jacket. It will be the ninth try for the green jacket for Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and the second for his compatriot Shugo Imahira. Amateur golfer Yuxin Lin of China, the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, will be making his second Masters Tournament appearance.
Everyone will have their favourites to win the Masters Tournament this year. The question is will Tiger Woods repeat his previous year’s feat and claimed his 16th Major, will the stars align for Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, or will DeChambaeu in his rip and grip style emerge as a first-time winner of the Green Jacket?
“The golf courses that we create will be here long after I am gone. That means something, and it makes me feel very proud.” Ernie Els
In these uncertain times, the Els Club Desaru Coast has a reason to celebrate. It’s 18-hole Valley Course recently won Malaysia’s Best Golf Course at the World Golf Awards 2020. This is not the first time the Valley Course has received accolades. In 2017, it won the Best New Course in Asia Pacific at the Asian Golf Awards.
As a matter of fact, the Els Club Malaysia brand, which also comprises of The Els Club Teluk Datai Langkawi, has been the recipient of several awards over the years including the World Golf Awards, World’s Best New Course and was ranked #83 in Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Courses.
The Els Club Desaru Coast comprises of the 27-hole Ocean Course designed by four-time Major Champion Ernie Els and the 18-hole Valley Course, conceived in collaboration with Els and his long-time friend and three-time Major Champion Vijay Singh. These masterpieces were unveiled in October 2016 (Ocean Course) and April 2017 (Valley Course).
The Valley Course offers an entirely different challenge compared to the Ocean Course. The greens are small, and the sharp undulations require precision play in order to prevail. The layout is as dramatic, and Mr Singh successfully integrates his artistic creativity, scientific knowledge and golf acumen into the landscape, using the slopes to perfection, crafting a perfect mix of testing shots and vistas to create a memorable experience for golfers. Golfers are guaranteed a world-class golf experience with incredible views.
Golfers have a few key considerations when looking for the finest course on which to play. Something as simple as tee locations and green sizes or speed makes the difference between a pleasant day out and a few hot hours in the sun. The Valley Course is such a state-of-the-art layout that satisfies golfers of all playing capabilities.
The Valley layout turfed with Bermuda Tifeagle greens, and Bermuda 419 fairways not only holds up to nature but also ensure improved speed and consistency. They feature soft, fine cushioning for better tolerance to traffic and weather stress. The courses bring a new standard of golf to Southeast Asia.
Located on the south-eastern region of the country, in the state of Johor, Desaru Coast spans over 3,900 acres along a pristine 17km unspoiled beachfront, which faces eastwards over clear ocean waters. It is easily accessible via road, air and sea.
Desaru Coast also accommodates four globally renowned five-star hotels, namely the One & Only Desaru Coast, the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort and Villas, the Westin Desaru Coast Resort and the Hard Rock Desaru Hotel along with an Adventure Water Theme Park and an entertainment park and restaurants. The courses are owned by Destination Resorts and Hotels Sdn Bhd, while the resort is managed by world-renowned management organisation, Troon Golf.
With the growing number of golf courses throughout the world, golfers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where they play. But when a golf club offers superb facilities and a world-class layout, golfers will come long before they are due to play and linger long after the last hole.
Malkeet Kaur became a golf writer by chance in 1987, and since then, she has not stopped writing about the Royal and Ancient sport. She has written for several golf magazines rising through the ranks from junior journalist to editor, later consultant editor and media consultant for various projects. She has also written extensively on a
Malkeet Kaur became a golf writer by chance in 1987, and since then, she has not stopped writing about the Royal and Ancient sport. She has written for several golf magazines rising through the ranks from junior journalist to editor, later consultant editor and media consultant for various projects. She has also written extensively on a wide range of subjects for newspapers, magazines, and websites. Also, she leads and edits business journals and provides consultation for multiple clients in the corporate sector. In between writing about golf and running her own publishing business, she dabbles in creative writing.
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