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Robert Weider – The best golf courses in China

Robert Weider – The best golf courses in China

Robert Weider - The best courses in China


I’ve spoken here before about the fantastic golf that there is to be had here in Hong Kong – but mainland China also offers a huge array of incredible courses that every golfer should experience at some point. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to talk a bit more about just a couple of my favourites – Mission Hills and Spring City Resort.

Mission Hills

I’ll start with Mission Hills because for me, it is probably the best place in China to play golf. It’s the world’s largest golf club – but quality has certainly not been sacrificed for quantity. It has over 20 golf courses split between Shenzhen – which is an easy day trip from Hong Kong – and Haikou Peninsula, about an hour’s flight from Hong Kong.

The courses, needless to say, are fantastic. Shenzen hosts many of the major events in China and you can take your pick from any of its 11 championship courses and an 18-hole, par three course. The practice facilities are also incredible – they even have 18 holes of night golf for those of us who just can’t stop once the sun goes down.

The courses have each been designed by some of golf’s biggest names – Jack Nicklaus designed the World Cup Course, while there are others from Greg Norman, Annika Sörenstam, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Nick Faldo, José María Olazábal, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Jumbo Ozaki to name just a few. I haven’t tried them all – but I intend to one day, and the courses I’ve tackled so far have each brought their own unique challenges. Mission Hills’ convenient location near to Hong Kong, its unprecedented scale and the sheer quality and variety of its courses makes it a fantastic destination for any golf fan.

Spring City Resort – Kunming

So, the city of Kunming is a little further from Hong Kong – a flight of around 3 hours – but it’s well worth the extra effort to reach one of my favourite golf resorts. The first thing to mention is the absolutely stunning location of the Spring City Resort courses – their setting overlooking Yang Zonghai lake just takes the breath away. Spring City Resort offers you just two 18-hole courses – the Lake and the Mountain – but they are both exquisitely beautiful and very well designed. They’re also kept in fantastic condition – the greens are immaculate and, in my experience at least, the weather is also always equally perfect. If I had to pick a favourite out of the two, it would have to be the Mountain Course, which is particularly spectacular and would have to be our favourite in China. Which every way you choose, Spring City Resort will give an unforgettable round of golf in a gorgeous setting. With the lake in front of you and the mountains behind, there are few better places to play golf.

My China wishlist

Of course, China is huge, and as a nation is becoming increasingly golf-mad. There are an enormous range of courses on offer that each provide a different kind of challenge for all levels of golfer. These are just two of the ones that I have personally played at, but there are many more in China that I’d love to experience as well.

One is The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula on Hainan Island’s east coast – another course that makes good use of complexities of the coastal landscape to create a very challenging course. I’d also like to try a round at the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club – it’s in Lijiang, Yunnan Province in south west China, and again it’s another course with truly spectacular views. The course unwinds at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and it’s a pretty unique place – it’s over 10,000 feet up, which means the ball will travel an extra 15 to 20 per cent further through the thin air. Because of this factor they’ve also made it the longest course in the world with18 holes over 8,548 yards in length.

As well as the views and the altitude, the designers have also taken great care to make the course different on the way out and on the way back in – the front nine has a Scottish feel, while the back nine is more of a parkland style course. All 18 holes offer their own unique challenge and I’d love to give the course a try one day.

Robert Weider 


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The equipment I never play a course without

The equipment I never play a course without

Robert Weider - Golf Equipment

Most golfers are creatures of habit – I know I’m certainly no different. Whether it’s an elaborate pre-shot routine, a favourite colour cap or just a go-to club, we all rely on a variety of things to help us through our round. Some are practical, while others provide a psychological crutch or verge on the superstitious – but they do, I believe, all have their value to some extent. I play golf a lot – at least I try to – and there are a number of pieces of equipment that I just have to have with me – I’ve even been known to turn around and head home if I forget one of them. Here’s my list of the things I never play a course without.

  1. Range finder

I’ve tried a few different tools to help me to check distances – my own judgement (with limited success), the advice of others (with slightly more success) – and GPS devices, which produced mixed results. I was really pleased then to get my hands on a laser rangefinder – this fantastic gadget is small enough to throw in my golf bag and yet it is still a serious piece of kit. It’s really straightforward to use and it gives you an accurate distance reading – mine locks on to the flag and has a clever feature for giving you slope-compensated distances too. I use mine now not only for finding the distance to the pin, but also to check the distance to any hazards or when laying up when no other distance markers are available. An invaluable tool.

  1. Pitch fork

So, judging by the number of pitch marks on the greens in Hong Kong I’d guess that this is an item that not many people here have in their golf bags. But it’s something that I always carry – and love using – for a few reasons. The first is that I just think it’s the right thing to do – you’re doing your bit to help keep the greens in good nick for whoever is following you. As I see it, it’s just a responsible bit of good golf etiquette. But beyond this, I also love using it for the simple reason that it means I’ve managed to land on the green – and that’s a small victory that I’m always happy to celebrate.

  1. Spare ball markers

Just a small thing, but I have absolutely loads of these at home and I always make sure that I grab a few extra ones before heading out – it’s incredible how many times I’ve lost my ball marker or someone else has forgotten theirs. I have a few on me at all times – and it’s always nice to know that you can lend a helping hand if someone needs a spare one.

  1. 8 iron

I think most golfers probably have a favourite club, and I actually think that there isn’t really anything wrong with that. Sometimes we all need an old friend we can rely on when things start to get tricky out there on the course – a favourite club, used in moderation, can get you through the tough times.

If someone gave me only one club (besides the putter) to take out on to the course it would have to be my 8 iron. Outside of the traditional 150yd shot and laying up on a par 5, I also enjoy using it for anything out to a 100 yards pitch and run, as well as pitching around the green. I certainly get more use out of the 8 than any other club in my bag.

  1. Beer Koozie

It would be remiss of me not to mention the beer koozie (or stubby holder as my Australian mates call them). Ideally not to be used during the morning rounds before work, however an essential on a hot summer day! When making the turn there is nothing better than stopping for a cold one to take on the back nine. Now if more courses could start stocking craft beers, life would be perfect…

So, those are my essentials – I’d love to hear what yours are.

Robert Weider

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Why I love Hong Kong’s Kau Sai Chau golf course

Why I love Hong Kong’s Kau Sai Chau golf course

Robert Weider - Hong Kong Kau Sai Chau


I’ve posted before about the joys of Hong Kong’s Kau Sai Chau (KSC) golf course – it really is one of my favourites. It’s Hong Kong’s only public course and boasts three 18-hole golf courses, which each have their own unique challenges. The North and South Courses were designed by one of golf’s greats – Gary Player – while the East course is packed full of surprises, in the most stunning of settings.

It is beautifully wild at KSC – being able to play with the backdrop of the Sai Kung hills behind you and the South China Sea stretching away into the distance is an unforgettable experience. And the challenging East Course is a real favourite of mine – I’ve managed to get down there a few times already this year, despite the chilly weather. Hong Kong never gets too cold – it was down to around ten degrees at most when I was last at KSC, but spending time on this great course on a gorgeous, bright winter’s day was a real treat, and an experience I’d recommend to anyone who gets the chance to visit.

A well-loved course

Winter is actually a great time to play at KSC, thanks to the cooler weather, and if you can avoid the weekends you’ll find things a little quieter. All three of KSC’s courses are popular with the locals and with visitors alike, so they do get crowded, but on my last Saturday visit to the East Course there with my wife we were lucky not to have to wait too long.  We only had short waits on the par 3s and a couple of the par 4s – all in all it was a five-hour round, which is only about 30 to 40 minutes longer than we usually take, so we were pleasantly surprised.

That recent day on the East Course was a great chance for me to see the steady improvement in my wife’s game too. She’s been playing better and better over the last year or so and is getting more comfortable – both with blasting the ball out of sand traps when she needs to, and with her play around the green. She even had a birdie on a par 4 – a first for her.

Something else that struck me the last time we played the East was the sheer quality of the greens. They really were in the best shape I’ve seen them – and they were a pleasure to play on. It’s huge credit to the skills of the teams there. I only wish that I was better able to putt on them – I must have had four or five three-putts on the day.

Leaps of faith

Taking on the East Course is a fascinating golfing experience, not least because of the variety of challenges you’ll encounter in the course of a round. One of the biggest – for me at least – is the sheer number of both blind and partially blind shots you have to make. It takes quite a bit of nerve (and judgement) to take them on – the tee shots on 1, 2, 6, 7 and the approach shots to 16 and 18 all require leaps of faith to a certain extent.

Speaking of which, another of the more remarkable features of KSC East is the number of shots you’ll take that require significant carry over ravines. I’ve posted before about the 18th, which asks for a tee shot out over a deep valley onto the fairway on the other side – but you’ll also find similar shots off the tee on the 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Add to that some tricky approaches on 9 and 10, and all in all it’s a varied, interesting challenge from start to finish. I should also mention that thanks to the hilly terrain it’s also quite a trek between some of the holes – there are at least five long drives so carts are a must.

Tricky conditions

One huge factor that you will need to take into account during the winter is the wind. The flip side to all of the spectacular scenery on this beautiful coastline is that it can get very blowy. Of course, the conditions are different for every round you’ll play at Kau Sai Chau, but on that day with my wife we faced at least a two club wind on every hole.

Fortunately it wasn’t gusting, so at least was a little more predictable – there was some comfort in being able to stand over the ball knowing that you weren’t about to hit two more clubs than needed and then lose the ball 30 yards over the green if the wind died mid-shot.

Believe me, it can happen at KSC.

Robert Weider 

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A guide to Deep Water Bay – Robert Weider

A guide to Deep Water Bay – Robert Weider

Robert Weider - A guide to Deep Water Bay


Of course, we all have our favourite golf courses, and I’ve spoken about a few of mine around the world before here. Some we love for their spectacular setting, others for their technical challenge, and others still for the memories we associate with spending time on them with friends. But it’s a course that is much closer to my home here in Hong Kong that I’m going to focus on this time around. It has a special place in my heart, for many reasons.

The Deep Water Bay course is a part of the Hong Kong Golf Club, and is situated down on the south side of Hong Kong Island, ideally located right across the street from the white sandy beaches of Deep Water Bay. It’s straightforward to get to as well – just a short drive through the Aberdeen tunnel from the north side of Hong Kong Island or easily reachable by public transport.

A handy, local course

This accessibility makes it a great place to squeeze in a quick round before work. The Deep Water Bay course offers a very different challenge to the 54 holes over at Fanling – it’s an 18 hole short course with eight par 3’s and one short par 4 on each nine. There are only nine greens too, so each hole has two tee areas to offer some variety between the front and back nine. One of my favourite things to do is to get their early, tee off once you can see your golf ball in the morning light and get around in about a couple of hours. In the summer the sun is already up by 5:30, so it still gives you plenty of time to get into the office by 9am. There is also a lovely clubhouse that serves breakfast and has all the facilities you need – I’ve been playing there every week for well over a year now and it’s simply a fantastic way to start the day.

If you don’t need to rush off to work, then visitors can play anytime after 9am on weekdays for HK $650 (you’ll need valid Hong Kong ID though) – weekends are for members only. One tip – if you fancy coming along to play it’s well worth checking beforehand if the course is open – there are often quite a few maintenance days (usually Tuesdays), so be warned.

Something different every time

For me, one of the best aspects of being able to play regularly at Deep Water Bay is the constantly varying challenges of the course. A big factor in this is the weather – in the winter, there can be a brutal easterly wind that blows over the front side of Hong Kong Island, down the canyon and onto the course, which can make for 2+ club differences compared to a calm day. It’s can also be pretty chilly – I’d certainly recommend bundling up when the temperature drops into the teens or lower. Contrast that with the summer and the usually still conditions (assuming there are no typhoons nearby) when you can finish playing, put on your swimmers, cross the street and go for a swim in the South China Sea.

The setting then is perfect, but it’s also a course that can really test you sometimes – the long par 3 9th in particular is a challenge – and especially on those days when the elements are conspiring against you. In my experience, the course is always immaculately kept too – the greens are fast and it’s a great place to try and hone your short game too. Recently I’ve found that Deep Water Bay is the ideal course to try and focus on those little details of the game that a longer course may not be so well suited too – for example I’ll often have regular discussions with my playing companions about areas that have questionable lies and we spend a lot of time analysing whether certain areas get free relief.

So, Deep Water Bay is becoming a firm favourite of mine – while it might not be one of the world’s most challenging courses, it’s close by, provides a varying challenge depending on the weather conditions, and it’s in a beautiful setting. I’m a huge fan, and I’d recommend any visitor to Hong Kong to come along and check it out.

Robert Weider 

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Change one thing – why the small things matter in golf

Change one thing – why the small things matter in golf

Change one thing - why the small things matter in golf - Robert Weider

What is a golf swing, if not the sum of many smaller, beautifully interlocking elements? From lengthening or shortening your back swing, to adjusting your grip or subtly changing your head position, there are hundreds of tiny adjustments that you can make that can radically transform your swing.

And I actually believe that the whole game of golf is in some ways like this – in my experience there are always some small changes you can make that will make a real difference to the way you play. Of course I’m not advocating constantly adjusting how you approach your game – rhythm and routine are also hugely important in the game of golf – but rather that is possible sometimes to break out of a poor run of form just by making a few minor adjustments. Here are just some of the small things, mental and physical, that I’ve found can make a big difference sometimes.

  1. Think again about the club you’re about to use.

Are you trying to push a particular club to do a job it shouldn’t really be doing? Every golf club is designed with a particular shot in mind, but it’s also easy to gravitate back to a favourite. So, sometimes it pays to put the club back in the bag and just take a moment to decide if it’s really the club you should use for the shot in hand, or if it’s just the one you feel most comfortable with.

  1. Switch to a positive mindset.

I’ve spoken about the importance of the mental side of the game of golf before, but it really can’t be overstated. One great habit to get into – other than to try and forget whatever has gone on before and to concentrate on the shot in front of you – is to always stay relentlessly positive. Whether you’re having a good round or a bad one, it’s all good experience – and this little mental switch in attitude can stop you from abandoning early and can take you all the way to the 18th.

  1. Stick to your pre-shot routine, whatever happens.

A good pre-shot routine is essential to preparing both body and mind for the shot you’re about to make, and it should never be skipped, regardless of how much pressure you’re under. You’ve developed it because it works for you, but it is remarkably easy to slip out of the habit of doing a pre-shot routine when the pressure is on (or even sometimes when it is off). So, once again it’s a small part of your game, but something that can have a huge impact on the preparation and execution of your shots.

  1. If you’re starting to struggle with your swing, practice a full one at half speed.

As I’ve mentioned before, your golf swing can be broken down into a number of interlocking moving parts. How these parts work together isn’t always easy to see – but one of the best ways to get an indication of where things might be going wrong is simply to slow everything down to half speed. Take a full swing, but just more slowly, and get used to feeling all the various phases of your swing once again. As you start to feel more comfortable, and the component pieces are starting flow more naturally again, then it’s time to speed up and resume normal service.

  1. Remember the basics of club face alignment

What are you trying to line up with the target? Your feet? Your shoulders? Everything? In fact, it should be the club face – but it’s incredibly easy to forget this basic in the heat of a round. The best way to make sure you don’t is to get into the habit of always looking at the target from behind the ball, and then aligning your club face accordingly. Then – and only then – should you worry about where your feet are placed, or which way your shoulders or your torso are facing. Get the club aligned first, and then build your stance around that.

I really do believe that golf is one of the few games where the small things can make a disproportional difference to the quality of your game. So, next time you’re out on the course, and you’re tempted to dig yourself out of a hole by trying a ‘big’ shot, maybe take a quick a look at the small things you can try first. It might just make a big difference.

Robert Weider 

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Heroes – the players who have inspired me over the years

Heroes – the players who have inspired me over the years


How do we choose our sporting heroes? Sometimes, it could be an individual performance that sticks in the memory and moves us for some reason. For others it could be an attitude – a way of playing that just excites you and makes you want to root for them. For others still, it could be about inspiration – we fall in love with players who we ourselves would like to emulate, who may even share some of our own qualities, (albeit at a much higher level!).

So, when I’m asked who my favourite player is, I have to admit that I struggle to choose just one. In some ways it’s easier to say who I’m not so keen on – players like Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson for example. But there are a number of players who I love to watch for very different reasons – so, here’s my round up of some of them.

Phil Mickelson

One of those players who I just have an affinity for – not least because he’s a lefty, like me. He’s also an honest player – a grafter, but with a creative enough imagination to play some brave and imaginative shots when he needs to. He’s also just an all-round good guy – he looks after his family, and he also takes the time to acknowledge the massive input of his caddie when he enjoys a success. When Phil picked up his second US Masters Tournament victory in Augusta in 2006 – his third major championship at that point – he made sure his caddie was able to come along to the celebratory club dinner that night. One of the good guys.

Tom Watson

Another hard worker – one of the most intense players you’re ever likely to see out on the course, and someone who was very aware of the mental side of the game (he was asked in 1977 who he saw as his biggest threat as he entered the last day of the Masters – his answer was ‘myself’). He’s also responsible for one of my biggest regrets in golf, when he broke so many hearts in Turnberry at the Open Championship back in 2009. Aged 59, and with a hip replacement behind him, he’d birdied to lead by one going into the final hole. I was there watching when he was walking down the 18th, thinking I was watching history – but sadly it wasn’t to be, as ultimately Stewart Cink stepped up to take the title.

Henrik Stenson

You’ve got to love a player who is prepared to strip down to his underwear to play a golf shot in order to avoid getting his clothes muddy. Henrik Stenson did just that back in 2009 on a course in Florida – and caused a minor stir at the time – but he’s a player who has more to his game than just a willingness to try the unusual once in a while. He won the 2016 Open after one of the best final rounds of golf I’ve ever seen – holding off the aforementioned Phil Mickelson in a truly memorable tussle that went all the way to the wire. It was a day that for me showcased one of Henrik’s finest qualities – his ability to hold his ice cool nerve under pressure – and I’m sure it will serve him very well in many more tournaments in the future.

Sergio Garcia

My final pick is a player who has had a pretty rocky relationship with fans (especially US ones) over the years, thanks to a bitter rivalry with Tiger Woods and his influential role in the European Ryder Cup team. But he is a player who I never tire of watching – and I’m so glad that he finally found the success he deserves last April in Augusta. He’s a supremely talented golfer, but one who, for whatever reason, seemed destined never to fully hit the heights. Consider the stats – up to the moment in which he clinched the Masters, he’d had 73 failed attempts to win a major, with four runners up spots, 12 finishes in the top five, and 22 in the top 10. Winning at the Masters then was richly deserved – this is someone who knows the meaning of persistence, and I’m glad that he never gave up on his dream.

Robert Weider 

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My top golf holes around the world

My top golf holes around the world

Robert Weider - My favourite holes around the world

I’m often asked about my favourite courses, but I thought it might be interesting to share some of my favourite holes from around the world here. So what goes into making a ‘favourite’? Well, there are some that I’ve picked because of the challenge they present, others that are in unique settings and others that are rich in history. There are some that I’ve always dreamed of playing on – but haven’t done yet – and others that I just have warm memories of spending time on with friends. Here’s my pick of just a few.

Old Course at St Andrews – The 1st (and the 18th)

I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever felt such pressure on a shot as I did on the first tee of the Old Course at St Andrews. I was lucky enough to play a round there back in 2008, and I have never played anywhere else where you feel the weight of so much history on your shoulders. Hands and shoulders tighten up, and you feel as if the whole town is watching you. But what a course this is: the oldest in the world, a wild and challenging setting, and most importantly it’s still open to all. The drive required for that first hole is only a short one, but it has 466 years of history behind it, and a lot of emotion for anyone who loves golf.

I also have to mention the approach to the 18th – possibly one of the most famous in golf – with the ‘Auld Grey Toon’ ominously close to the right hand side of the hole and the famous R&A Clubhouse in the background. Then of course there is the hole itself – another great short par 4. I remember that the green can most certainly be hit if the wind is on your side but danger lurks just short of the green in the form of the Valley of Sin. This gaping void in the hole has bested even the most talented players in the game and has also provided moments of sheer joy, such as Constantino Rocca’s monster putt in the 1995 Open Championship. Rocca’s two final shots on this hole perfectly summed up why this par 4 is such a great challenge and a worthy inclusion on any fantasy golf hole list.

Carnoustie Championship Course, The 14th

As you’d expect from a course that has hosted the Open, this is an unbelievably tough one. The 14th is an absolute beast – nicknamed ‘Spectacles’ thanks to the huge bunkers that lie in wait for the unsuspecting player – and if you land in the sand (as I did), you’re done. I spent a good few minutes desperately trying to escape, and even when you do there are more bunkers lurking by the green, which thankfully I managed to avoid. Despite this experience though, I’ve picked this hole because it is one that I’ll never forget – when I finally joined my friends on the green I had a real sense of achievement that I’d got there having only dropped a couple of shots. It was a special experience because it offered a valuable lesson in what a psychological game golf can be – one where something that under normal circumstances would be considered a failure can become a mini triumph when the course is as tough as this one.   

Augusta National, The 18th

What golf fan hasn’t dreamt of walking up the final fairway at Augusta to the 18th, late on the afternoon of the final day of the Masters, with a lead as long as the shadows cast by the towering firs? This is a truly special course, and probably the number one ‘dream’ hole for any golfer. Unfortunately it remains a dream for me, but I’m determined to one day take on this iconic course. Not only is it in a stunningly beautiful setting – it has also been the scene of many legendary moments in the history of golf. So many of the game’s greatest players have pitted their wits against the legendary holes here, such as the 3rd, known as ‘Flowering Peach – a short par 4 with a savagely sloping green and four bunkers treacherous bunkers, or ‘Golden Bell’ the shortest hole but also one of the trickiest. But it has to be the 18th for me – to make that long walk up to the final green having completed this fantastic course must be a very special experience for any golfer.

Robert Weider 

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Rob Weider – Could part of Hong Kong Golf Club soon be lost to housing development?

Rob Weider – Could part of Hong Kong Golf Club soon be lost to housing development?

Rob Weider - Could part of Hong Kong Golf club be lost to housing development?

As a golfer there is always a part of you that dreams – it’s that spark that you need inside you to keep you going when you’re struggling out on the course: that little bit of belief that makes you trust that you really can make that next shot. But as a successful businessman, I’m also a realist. And so I also approach each shot, each new situation, each fresh challenge, with a clear head (or at least I try to), considering the arguments for doing one thing and weighing them against the arguments for doing another.

So, it is in this spirit – of the realist versus the idealist – that I have been thinking hard about the recent news that part of the historic Hong Kong Golf Club could soon be lost to developers.

A special place

The Hong Kong Golf Club means a lot to me. I love the challenge it represents as a golf course, first and foremost – but also as a place to meet and spend time with friends. It is spread over two beautiful locations, each fascinating in their own ways: at Deep Water Bay, you’ll find a short course (par 56), while at Fanling there are three 18 hole golf courses – the Eden, the Old and the New course. Fanling is also where the Hong Kong Open is held every year.

I spend a lot of time – each week, when I get the chance – on the short course at Deep Water Bay in particular. I use these weekly rounds both as an opportunity to enjoy a bit of gentle competition with my friends, but also as a great place to work on various aspects of my game and to better understand the rules of golf. The short course is particularly suited to this, because there are many areas that have questionable lies – we spend a lot of time analysing whether certain areas get free relief. I’ve also used the short course as a place where I can try to tweak those little aspects of my game that I feel could be improved.

Working on my game

For example, at Deep Water Bay we’ve recently been working on making sure that we’re lining up our tee shots directly in line with the pin. It’s distracting having someone behind you telling you whether you’ve lined up correctly – and then asking you move your feet to one side or the other – but it’s been a useful process to go through. And it’s having the time and space to work this kind of detail that has made me so fond of this course in particular.

And I’m a huge fan of the courses at Fanling too. I recently played a wonderful round of golf with some friends on a sunny Wednesday morning, where the temperature started at 9C, but rose to short sleeves weather by the 6th hole. Playing more rounds at Fanling, especially on the Old course, is one of my long-term ambitions.

The end of an era?

But it’s an ambition that may not be realised, if the developers have their way. And while the romantic golfer in me is devastated to think that part of these lovely old courses might be lost, the realist in me can also see how the authorities are singling out a 54 hole golf course. Space is at a premium in Hong Kong: the Hong Kong Golf Club is sitting on around 170 hectares of prime real estate, and it’s estimated that more than 5,000 new homes could be built on just part of the land it occupies. It also seems that under the current discussions they are only taking aim at part of the the Old Course and a car park – equivalent to about a tenth of the course. So, it won’t be the end for the Hong Kong Golf Club – but it could mark the beginning of the end.  

An uncertain future

The Hong Kong Golf Club’s lease runs out in 2020, and what becomes of the Old Course remains to be seen. However if the land is sold to build flats, I hope that a good proportion of the new buildings would be affordable housing, in order to help alleviate housing issues in Hong Kong. I’d miss the challenges of the Old Course, and the time I’ve spent there with friends, but of course I can also see the benefit that new homes can bring to a Hong Kong housing shortage.

And who knows, with potentially thousands of new families living within a stone’s throw of the fantastic New and Eden courses, maybe we might even see a whole new generation of Hong Kong golf fanatics being born.

– Robert Weider 

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All in the mind – the mental side of playing golf

All in the mind – the mental side of playing golf

Rob Weider - All in the mind - The mental side of golf

Possibly more than any other game I know, golf is a mind game. Of course, it’s about technique, and practice, and raw, natural talent – but it’s also about what is going on inside your head at the crucial moments.

There can be few games where someone’s mental condition is so plainly (and sometimes painfully) obvious – who can forget poor Jean Van de Velde’s dramatic collapse as he arrived at the 18th tee needing only a double bogey to win the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie – and then proceeded to throw it all away with a series of disastrous shots.

Moments like this show vividly how overpowering negative thoughts can be once they take control in moments of pressure. Ultimately, while a golf swing is performed by muscles and sinew, it is the mind that controls every aspect of that action. If the mind isn’t clear, or is confused or distracted, this internal conflict will be played out physically.

So, I thought it would be interesting to look at a few of the ways in which you can help yourself to stay mentally strong during your next round.

Have a pre-shot routine

The pre-shot routine is absolutely crucial in golf. Just as lighting an incense stick might prepare a meditator’s mind for focus, or rolling up their football socks might calm someone just before taking a penalty, rituals are a vital part of mental and physical preparation. They essentially act as a cue for the mind to get ready to do something it has practiced many times – it is your way of saying to yourself: ‘stop thinking about that last shot, now it’s time to focus again on this one’.

So, whatever your routine is, stick to it, and make it something you practice as rigorously as every other part of your game. Use it as a process that helps you to clear your mind and prepare your body.

Focus on the ball

This might seem obvious, but there is a good point here about focus. Once you’ve chosen your club, and decided where you’re trying to land the ball, what do you actually focus on? From a mental point of view, this is hugely important – there are a lot of potential distractions as you prepare to take your swing, both externally and internally. But the object of your attention has to be the ball: trust your swing, trust your club and shot choice, and forget about everything else. Look at the ball – pick a dimple – and clear your mind.

Stay in the present

A crucial lesson, that so many golfers (including myself) often forget. The past has passed, the future is still to come – and so the only thing really to focus on is this moment. And yet this is actually incredibly hard to do properly – largely because the most powerful mental aspects of the game of golf often play out as the emotions you’re feeling as a result of the shot you’ve just played. You might be angry with yourself for a poor shot choice, or even feeling full of confidence because of a fantastic one. Either way, don’t bring it into the current shot. Being present, clear-minded and focused will relax your body and mind, and will allow you to execute your swing without any interference.

Be honest

We’re all different, as people and as golfers. Because golf is such a mental game, you can often tell a lot about a person simply by how they play. So, don’t try and be the player that you’re not. If you’re a steady, conservative kind of person, don’t try and force yourself to be reckless on the course. Or, if you’re someone who is instinctive and impetuous, don’t try and stamp this out completely when you’re playing. The mind and body work best together when everything feels natural, and not forced – so always play the way that feels right to you.

Choose your moment

So much of golf is about choice – club choice and shot choice most obviously. But it’s worth reminding ourselves that we also have a choice about the mental attitude we take into a game – even into individual holes. Some holes demand a more open, confident approach, while others demand something more cautious. Managing these differing mental attitudes, hole by hole, is absolutely crucial – especially in terms of balancing how far you take them. It’s all too easy for confidence to become over-confidence and recklessness – or for caution to descend into fear.

So, be very alert to your internal emotional weather – learn how to recognise the warning signs of when things are going wrong, and develop the mental strength to choose the right attitude for the right moment.


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Posted by Rob Weider on

Robert Weider – A look ahead to professional golf in 2018

Robert Weider – A look ahead to professional golf in 2018

Robert Weider - A look ahead to professional golf in 2018

What does 2018 have in store for the world of golf? Here are my thoughts on what I think could be a very special year for European golf in particular.

Return of a legend

For me, 2018 is all about one player – one who many people thought was done: Tiger Woods. He’s 42 now, and has struggled badly with the back injury that has prevented him from playing for the best part of the last two seasons. But, he’s still Tiger Woods, and that means he has the ability and the fierce competitiveness that only someone who has 79 PGA Tour victories to his name can deploy. He’s making his return to the PGA Tour in January this year at a course that he has already had a considerable amount of success at – Torrey Pines near San Diego. He’s won there before, eight times, picking up seven tour wins and a US Open title, so it will hopefully be a happy return for this legendary player. Fitness has been a huge issue for Tiger recently – it’s been a long time since managed more than 15 starts in a PGA Tour (way back in 2013) – so I’ll be watching him closely this year to see how he gets on.

… and the return of the Ryder Cup

For only the second time in its long and illustrious history, the Ryder Cup will be held on continental Europe. Like most golf fans, I’ve got a real soft spot for this biennial head-to-head between the US and Europe’s best players – it’s thrown up some memorable moments over the years. What sports fan couldn’t fall in love with the game when it gives you drama like Ian Poulter’s five birdies in a row to kick-start Europe’s comeback in 2012. Or, who could fail to be moved by the sight of the recently bereaved Darren Clarke’s emotional round with Lee Westwood, which played such an important role in Europe’s victory that year. The Ryder Cup really is something special, and I’m hugely excited to see what will unfold in Paris this year. The course looks a testing one too – L’Albatros has been described by Lee Westwood as his favourite course in Europe, so it should be a fitting setting for this iconic event.

One to watch

It’s got to be Paul Casey. He’s been away from the European Tour for the last three years, but now he’s back, and that’s great news for Europe – especially as 2018 is a Ryder Cup year. Only players who are members of the European Tour can qualify for the European Ryder Cup team or can be picked for wild cards, so this is a real boost for a team who will fancy their chances in Paris this September. I think this could be a huge year, not just for Paul, who I think could easily pick up his first major, but also for European golf as a whole, with the potential for a big win over the US in Paris. Here’s hoping anyway.

Time for a Grand Slam?

Remarkably, this year could see three different players complete their own career grand slams of  major titles. Only five players have done this in the Masters era – Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen – but this year could see those elite ranks swelling. Rory McIlroy just needs to add the Masters, Phil Mickelson the U.S. Open and Jordan Spieth the PGA Championship in order to be ranked along these former greats – and I’m really looking forward to seeing if any of them manage it.

A very special course

I also have a personal golfing ambition this year. You may have seen the recent news stories about the possibility of part of the historic Fanling course in Hong Kong being used to build a new housing development. Of course there are arguments either way on this matter – and the Hong Kong Golf Club’s lease on the course doesn’t run out until 2020 anyway – but I’m going to do my best to play as much golf as I can on this beautiful course over 2018. I’ve made some good friends out on the greens here, and shared some memorable moments on what can be an incredibly testing course. So, I’m determined to make sure that I spend more time on Fanling this year, whether or not its time is running out.

 – Robert Weider 

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