Friday, August 14, 2009

Golf as what JGA sees it….

I have come to get to love to play golf accidentally after watching a friend hitting balls at a driving range. Golf was not even a sport in my opinion at that time, considering I do play hockey, football, rugby and lots of other sports. The driving range was sort of located along side the route which we took to return back to Kemaman. Little that I know out of a sudden I was tempted to hit a few balls and a friend handed me a 7 iron. I was still with my office attires and was surprised to see the first ball that I hit went up and fly. After hitting a few more balls the urge to learn to play the game suddenly come crashing and the rest is history. That was in 1995 and to date has manage to get my handicap consistently at 13 although I did went down to 9 for a brief spell in 2005 and 2006.

Over the years I took up golf with a Teaching pro. No one told me to do that but I am the kind of person who will try to make sure I get the tips from the trained teaching pro rather than bits and pieces from other golfers.

Golf is not about just playing the game. Playing with better golfers, reading golf magazines, watching golfers practice and asking a lot of questions are among others things I did to get my games improved. It is not something we human are born with the skills. But it is more like a system which we human have to learn, get adapted, live with it and have fun.

Moving over, in this part of the world, golf has recently taken some interest of its inhabitants. Is it because some top golfer mum is from Asia, or is it because suddenly Koreans and Japanese golfers are in the top rank players. In Malaysia everyone was thinking of Vijay Singh when he won top medals. How we have missed the best chance to put the country in the world map. But then again, is that the only way to do it? In the past we may not find any Malaysian in any Asian tour neither in any world golf tour anyway. Lo and behold, look around now. We have Danny competing in British Open, we have Airil winning the Pakistan Open and so many others taking titles in the region.

Why golf in Malaysia will take ages to grow?

First of all if you are born with it the rest should just follow suit. But some are not born with such skill. Some are surrounded by the golf fraternity and as they grow older, they became attracted to the game because bosses want you to be seen in the corporate niche group.

Or simply because your friend have been harassing you to play the game for ages.

Or your wife has been quite busy with kids and work and you got nothing else to do at home.

Or you could have sort of giving up on other outdoor or other active indoor sports.

Or it could be a sudden burst of interest to play the game.

Or it could be even god almighty suddenly put a curse on you to play the game and start spending all your earned or saved income to boost the sports industry.

Or some sports body is seriously looking at developing young talents and starts promoting the game at junior level at various golf courses all over the country.

The good thing about the game in this country is that everyone is following suit other successful sports development. Squash, bowling and badminton are some good examples. Over the years I have witnessed kids growing up to pick up the game and some of them are now playing better golf compared to my mere 13 handicap. In most golf clubs patrons have been growing in numbers and almost 75% of their families follow suit.

But is that good enough to push the game?

Two (too…..) many people wants to become leaders in the sport. Did you remember the chaos created by MPGA and other professional golfers recently. Many would have forgotten all about it but I am very sure those professional golfers are badly affected by that incident.

Typical Malaysian, the officials are more important than the athletes. Official dine in hotels and athletes eating noodles in their hotel rooms. The same also goes to Malaysian golf. To add salt to the wounds, professional golfers are being left without proper sanctions or sponsorship and most of them end up working in driving ranges or sports retail outlets to make sure they still can make something in this world.

Thirdly, typically we Malaysians eat somewhat lavish foods most Europeans or other nations are not familiar with. But most of all, we have a lot to eat. The question is do our athletes have proper nutrients. Come to think of it, does playing golf really need proper diet? But playing golf with an empty stomach can be very tiring though.

Is golf an interesting game to play? Out of 24 million people in this country, I am not sure we even have half of them who understand what the game is all about. It is still a game where people associate with high income earner group. But not many realized that the game is building up its momentum. But still, the marketing part of making golf a popular sports in this country is still not at its even minimum level.

How many actually read golf news on the net? How many people browse golf websites? Or even how many people even actually bother to know the existence of professional golfers in this country. Look at MPGA. Look at the conditions of their office. A mere location in Desa Pandan (I come to know this because I live quite close to that area a long time ago).

Junior golfers in this country are developed to have an interest to play the game or some of them were forced to love the game. I have seen parents sending their kids to driving ranges. Some of those kids are patient enough to learn how to hit a small golf ball. Some are sitting there on the driving mat thinking why he has to make an effort to hit the ball when he can just use his hands and throw it wherever he want. Others might be sitting there crying, while some can be there munching their sweet while parents sweating it out hitting balls endlessly, hoping their children will learn to love it too.

Proper guidance is the fifth element why golf will take ages to grow in this country. How many of us are willing to spend the time to sit down with our son or daughter and taught them all they have to know about playing golf. How many parents actually know how to play golf? Or how many parents actually know everything about golf anyway.

If you look at those American or European golfers, most of them have their parents to thank for making the time to provide that proper guidance for them to grow and play golf professionally. But parents in this country are beginning to do the same. The only problem we don’t have enough parents to do that.

Income earned is our sixth element. Golf is still predominantly dominated by well earned income group. A lot of us Asians will not spend money on playing golf if they don’t have enough income to support the basic need in their home. Many still feel they would rather send sms to various live shows to promote the music industry. Don’t ask me to name them because I am simply get irritated with people who support them through sms votings.

The game however has become affordable recently. But then again it depend on how much do you spend and how do you spend it. Golf equipments can be in ranges at RM200 to RM20,000. Second hand golf equipments are actually good items for golf beginners. There are affordable basic driving ranges throughout the country. If you can’t pay RM15 for 100 balls, you may choose to pay RM8 for 100 balls at another driving range.

If you can’t afford to pay RM250 for a round of golf, you may choose to pay RM70 for a round of golf at Kundang Lake near Kuang. Plus there are a number of golf packages which actually provides discounts on green fees and also provides reciprocal golf clubs which allows you to play at various golf clubs for a discounted fee. (I won’t mention their identity because I am not paid to say that).

Seven. Is there enough facilities readily available for all golfers in all over Malaysia? Is the golf industry getting enough incentives so that investors can build more golf clubs, more public golf courses, more driving ranges, more teaching academy and more people to be involved in the industry. Is there enough corporate memberships where companies can promote their staff to take up the game? And actually promote healthy sports among those stressed out executives who endlessly spend long hours at office and some beyond working days.

Symptom no 8 is really got to with what people understand what golf can contribute as a sport in this country. It is how you approach your introduction to the game. A person can get to understand golf in his career simply because he works in a golf club. Even still that does not warrant him to understand fully what golf can give to the community. In this part of the world, so much has been organized to make golf tournament more fun. Some organized a charity sort of golf tournament. Some do it for the sake of giving farewell games to a leaving colleague. Some even come up with golf website. Some make golf jokes as ice breaker in the office. Some even uses golf as a platform to get to know more about others. Some use it to get away from home. Whatever the purpose those golfers plays golf, one could not forget its contribution the country economy.

Look at the number of Singaporeans driving up to JB in the wee morning to catch up with some golf games. Likewise, look at the influx of Japanese and Koreans into Sabah and Kuala Lumpur golf courses. Unlike if we observe the states up north in Penang, Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan or Terengganu. Unfortunately the trend is the other way around. Many choose to drive to Thailand to play there. I wonder why???

Kids learning how to play golf as symptom no 9. Dragging them to the driving range can be either as easy as bringing them to the zoo or it can be as though as waking them up for school. If those kids understand golf like Ben 10, I am pretty sure they might be right at the front door whenever you mention your intend to go to the driving range.

Last but not least, lets us look at ourselves as Malaysians. We tend to look up to something before we start pursuing our dreams. Look at how Koreans ladies making up the numbers in LPGA events. If you observe carefully, they are almost as high as more than 70% of the players in the field. How about Asians events? Can we contribute that numbers in terms of developing our boys and girls to the Asian tour?

Malaysian Boleh I guess…..why not?


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cheez m nor said...

why not, my dear, why not

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