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Golfing tips for newcomers

Golfing tips for newcomers

Rob Weider - Golfing tips for newcomers

Golf is in many ways one of the simplest games there is – but that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, its very simplicity makes it all the more exposing. What could be more straightforward than simply hitting a ball into a hole with a stick? Well, try answering that question, while standing on the green, putting for par with the pressure of the eagle your partner just sank at the last hole on your shoulders. Or try making your swing effortless and focused while you try to drive the memory of your last fluffed tee shot out of your mind. Golf is a game that is uniquely challenging, both mentally and in terms of technique.

I’m often asked, as a relatively experienced golfer, what my tips would be for anyone starting out in this wonderful game. So, I thought that it would be an idea to share some of the very best bits of advice that I’ve gathered over the years. I’ve put these together in the form of quotes from players – professional and otherwise – who I think have hit on some essential truths about our great game.

Ben Hogan: “The most important shot in golf is the next one.”

One of the earliest lessons that anyone passed on to me – and the one that I probably forget most often. The ability to make mistakes, process them quickly, learn practical lessons from them and then apply these calmly to the next challenge (with no negative baggage) is a crucial one – not just in golf, but in the business world, and in life in general. But as I say, it’s a lesson that is very easy to forget – to put the approach shot that landed you in the rough on the 17th out of your mind completely as you look up towards the 18th is a great skill, and one that I’m still working on to this day.

Gary Player: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

There are few sports on the planet that can’t be improved by a lot of practice. Whether it’s Sidney Crosby on the ice practicing deflections for hours after training or the thousands of hours spent in batting cages by your favourite baseball or cricket player over the years, practice really does make perfect. The point of Gary Player’s quote is that it also reduces the amount of play that is reduced to what other players might think of as ‘luck’ – good or otherwise. The more you practice, the more you familiarise yourself with every imaginable scenario that might occur while you’re playing in the real world, and the more your mind and body are equipped with the tools you need to deal with whatever is thrown at you. In a sport like golf, where every round, every hole, and every shot is different on any given day, it pays to put the time in.

John Updike: “The golf swing is like a suitcase into which we are trying to pack one too many things.”

You’ll sometimes hear observers of baseball watching particular pitchers, and hear them sucking through their teeth as they point to ‘a lot of moving parts’ in their throwing action. It’s an expression I like, as it also describes equally perfectly how complicated the golf swing can become, and points to the idea that simplicity and economy of movement is generally the most effective. We can all spend so long over-analysing, refining, tweaking and rebuilding our swings (Tiger Woods is a recent example of someone who has just agonised over this process) – and often, it has the opposite effect. Your golf swing should be a simple, joyful thing – so learn how to do it properly, practice it endlessly, but don’t over-complicate it. Fewer moving parts mean not as many things to go wrong.

Patty Berg: “The more you play it, the less you know about it.”

This is an eternal truth that I think brings together many of the other pieces of golfing wisdom I’ve heard over the years. Everything feeds into this – that the more you practice, the more instinctive your game becomes. That as you play more, it becomes less of an activity that you fret over and over-analyse, and more one that you just do – maybe not easily, but certainly with less conscious effort. And that as you begin to play this way, you find that you play more in the moment, taking the lessons and experiences you’ve accumulated over the years into each new challenge, keeping things simple – and ultimately enjoying this great game just a little bit more.

– Rob Weider


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The sweet spot – golfing at Kau Sai Chau

The sweet spot – golfing at Kau Sai Chau

Rob Weider - The sweet spot - golfing at Kau Sai Chau

One of things that I love most about writing this blog is that it gives me the chance to share with you some of my favourite places on earth to play golf. And I really do think that ‘the sweet spot’ is the perfect way to describe the experience of playing a round at Kau Sai Chau, which is located south of the Sai Kung Peninsula. It’s a remote, challenging collection of golf courses in a spectacular setting – and I love the experience every time I get a chance to go out there. Here’s why.


  1. It’s a great day out. Even getting to Kau Sai Chau is a bit of an adventure in itself – you can’t actually drive directly to the club, although they do provide ferry rides from Saikung Public Pier to the island every 20 minutes, then you are able to jump on a bus that will be waiting to take you on a 5-minute journey to the clubhouse. Once you’re there, just soak up the atmosphere – the views over the sea and mountains are simply breath-taking.


  1. It’s the only public golf course in Hong Kong. Golf is hugely popular in Hong Kong, and so the Jockey Club helped to create the course with a generous donation when it opened back in 1995. It’s actually a community project run jointly by the Jockey Club and the Hong Kong government, with the mission of promoting golf among the people of Hong Kong. It certainly seems to be doing its job, as all three 18-hole courses are almost always busy.


  1. Because it’s public, you don’t need to be a member. It is hugely popular though, so make sure that you give them a call to book a tee time. I’ll admit the booking process can seem overly complex to the uninitiated – you’ll need to fill in a form to register, fax or email it back to the course and then call an automated number, as well as present evidence of your handicap when arrive at reception – but I’d say it is well worth the effort. Just give yourself a few days to get it organised. The good news is that once you’ve registered you don’t need to go through the whole process again!


  1. It’s also great place to learn to play. They have courses and tuition for all levels and you can sign up for golf instruction sessions, as well as also hone your game in a floodlit two-storey driving range. You can pick up everything you need from the onsite pro shop, this homes one of the most comprehensive and impressive selection of golfing equipment of any club in Hong Kong.


  1. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. The course is set on the dramatic coastline of the Sai Kung Peninsula with views of Sai Kung and the South China Sea, and it is just a stunning place to spend a day playing golf. As well as the scenery, you’re also surrounded by some spectacular wildlife, from eagles, egrets and pond herons through to deer. The team behind the course really pride themselves on the environment they’ve created here, and the site has been recognised as a ‘Certified Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary for Wildlife’.


  1. Talking of wildlife, there is always the outside chance that you might come face to face with a wild boar. I’ve (happily) never met one, but they are blamed for badly damaging the course from time to time especially on the South course – what other course could say that?


  1. There’s a course to challenge every ability. Take your pick from any of the three 18-hole golf courses, which all have their own unique characteristics. The North and South Courses were designed by Gary Player, while Nelson & Haworth designed the equally spectacular East Course. I would recommend starting on the South course if you are a beginner, as this is the easiest at the club. The East course is definitely the most challenging, especially the blind tee shots.


  1. You’ll get the chance to tee off over a canyon. The I8th on the East Course requires you to perform a tee shot that will carry over a deep valley onto the fairway on the other side. It’s a unique, if slightly unnerving experience.


  1. Some of the holes – again particularly on the East Course – are a real test. They’re hilly and rolling, but the spectacular views more than make up for any frustration you might feel if you’re struggling.


  1. You can play as a Hong Kong resident’s guest at weekends. If you’re not a Hong Kong resident you’ll only be able to play on week days – however if you know someone who is a local resident and who has a Hong Kong Identity Card you can play at the weekends or on public holidays too as their guest.

– Robert Weider 

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13 reasons to play at the world-leading Hong Kong Golf Club 

13 reasons to play at the world-leading Hong Kong Golf Club 

Rob Weider - Hong Kong Golf Club


I love playing at the Hong Kong Golf Club. It’s one the many privileges of living here in Hong Kong – whenever I walk any of the courses – either at Fanling or Deep Water Bay, I feel like I am surrounded by history – from the days of the original 13 founders who created the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club in 1889 to the many great players who have graced this course in the years since. So, with those original 13 pioneers in mind, I thought I’d give you 13 good reasons to come and play a round here at this world-renowned course.


  1. The greens are a real challenge. They’re small and fast, and a round of any of the three 18-hole Fanling courses or the 9-hole Deep Water Bay course is a great way to brush up on your short game. The grain on them makes them particularly tricky, so you’ll need to study them carefully.
  2. The Fanling Clubhouse is the ideal place to relax and unwind after a round. The Verandah in particular is the perfect spot for something to drink as the sun goes down. The food is great too – I highly recommend sampling your favourite Chinese dish at the resort.
  3. The courses are all beautifully maintained. The New Course, the Old Course and the Eden Course at Fanling are all in fantastic condition, with fast, true greens and perfectly manicured fairways. There are also some unique features, such as the burial mounds that dot the course – there are 110 graves of indigenous people here, and their ancestors are still allowed to play here for free to this day.
  4. You’ll be following in the footsteps of legends. Some of the greatest golfers of all time have played at the Hong Kong Golf Club, from Bernhard Langer to Miguel Ángel Jiménez and José Maria Olazábal. The Hong Kong Open is a part of the European Tour and still attracts some of the world’s top talent.
  5. It’s easy to turn up and play at Fanling if you’re a visitor. You can play Monday to Friday – the only times you’ll be turned away are public holidays and weekends. The courses are an important part of any golfing holiday itinerary, and it’s definitely worth taking the time to visit. Just make sure you ring and book a place before you turn up.
  6. The setting is truly stunning. There are around 100 different species of tree on the Fanling course, including paperbark and eucalyptus – the Club even runs tree trails for local school children to help them to learn more about their environment.
  7. There’s a great choice of courses, for all abilities. At Fanling, you’ll find three 18-hole courses, while at Deep Water Bay there’s a short but challenging 9-hole par 56 course. You’ll find something to suit you, whatever your level – and there will always be plenty of people on hand to offer you some advice if you need it.
  8. The driving range is one of Hong Kong’s finest. The driving range and practice area is by far the best in Hong Kong with floodlit facilities, real greens to aim at on the range and a short game area that is second to none.
  9. If you’re a Hong Kong resident, you get discounted prices during certain days in the summer. Locals get a fantastic 93% saving on selected days, making this a truly community-minded club.
  10. People have been playing golf in Hong Kong for over 100 years. The Hong Kong Golf Club is one of the oldest in the world – so you really are enjoying a piece of history when you take to the course.
  11. It even has royal approval. Queen Victoria herself gave the club its ‘Royal’ prefix in 1889, but the name was quietly dropped in 1996 before the transfer of Hong Kong to China.
  12. You’ll get to use every club you have in your bag. All of the courses at Fanling have their own peculiar challenges, and you’ll need to have a good grasp of the course – and the tools you have at your disposal – to record a decent round.
  13. Get a taste of what the pros take on. The Hong Kong Open has been held here since 1959, most recently on a combination of the New and Old Courses. It’s relatively short – at 6,699 yards – and it’s also old-fashioned and challenging in that it demands more than just raw driving power.

– Rob Weider 

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Hong Kong Open Highlights

Hong Kong Open Highlights

Rob Weider - PGA European Tour

I know as well as anyone that golf is a journey. It’s quite possibly what I love most about the sport: the game is a steady process of ups and downs over the years – sometimes you get better, sometimes you get worse – but the overall arc – you hope – is one of improvement.

So, if you’re prepared to put the time and the hard work in, golf is hugely rewarding. Thanks to the handicap system there are few other games that give you such accurate, immediate feedback on just how well you’re progressing. This experience of slow and steady improvement is certainly reflected in what I’ve seen in my own game over the years, as I’ve played on many different courses around the world. And it was on one of my favourite courses – which I play regularly here in Hong Kong – that we’ve just seen another fantastic example of what a journey a career in golf really can be.

Close to home

Living and working in Hong Kong, I’m pretty familiar with the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling. It’s been the setting for the Hong Kong Open (part of the European Tour) since 1959, and, as with the US Open in Augusta, it is one of the very few tournaments that has been hosted by only one club for such a long time. It’s a great course, and so I was delighted to see that this year’s event really served up a fantastic story for golf fans.

Hard work pays off

In the final round, Australian professional Wade Ormsby won the tournament to claim his first European Tour win – after an incredible 264 attempts. It’s a fantastic achievement for a golfer who is now, by his own admission, in the later stages of his career. A real example to every player to understand the importance of persistence and hard work. “It means a lot to me,” he told the PGA European Tour website. “I’ve played a lot of golf in Europe – everywhere – with a few bumps along the way, but it’s pretty cool to get a win this late in your career.”

A close finish

It was a fantastic end result for Ormsby – his first European Tour win and only his second win as a professional – but it hadn’t all gone his way. He’d had to fight off an earlier challenge by India’s SSP Chawrasia, who had led Ormsby by four shots before triple bogeying at the ninth to fall away from the leading group.

It went right down to the wire too – Wade’s win came after his rival Rafael Cabrera-Bello birdied the 17th to pull level going into the 18th, and then needed just a par on the final hole to force the tournament into a play off with Ormsby. In the end, however, Cabrera-Bello missed his chance when he put his second shot into the bunker, and Ormsby, who had bogeyed the 18th, could finally breath a sigh of relief and celebrate. Ormsby finished with a final round of 68 to end 11 under par, a shot ahead of Cabrera-Bello, Alexander Bjork, Julian Suri and Paul Peterson.

Getting better with age

While it was a difficult day in the end for Rafael Cabrera-Bello, this year’s Hong Kong Open was the scene of a remarkable performance by another Spaniard – Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who came home with an impressive round of 63. Jiménez – who is now 53 – has had his own taste of success here at the Hong Kong Open, becoming the oldest ever European Tour winner back in 2014. Once again, the performance by Jiménez was testament to the rewards that golf can continue to give you, no matter how far into your career you are.

All in all, this year’s Hong Kong Open was a tournament that has shone a light on the Hong Kong Golf Club – it’s always a friendly, open event to attend, in a stunning setting, but I’m also delighted that the golf itself delivered such an exciting finale. The club was founded way back in 1889, and it seems to me, that like Wade Ormsby and Miguel Ángel Jiménez, some things just are getting better with age.

– Robert Weider

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