Hong Kong Golf Club

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Hong Kong Golf Club
Club information
Location Fanling, Hong Kong
Established 1889
Type Private
Total holes 63
Tournaments hosted Hong Kong Open
Website www.hkgolfclub.org
Old Course
Par 71
Length 6,246 yards
Eden Course
Par 70
Length 6,128 yards
New Course
Par 70
Length 6,547 yards
Deep Water Bay
Par 28
Length 1,608 yards

The Hong Kong Golf Club is a private golf club, and is one of only a few in Hong Kong. It is home to the Hong Kong Open, a tournament co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.

Founded in 1889 as the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, the Club originally played in Happy Valley, a location shared with many other activities. As the Club expanded, the need for a more permanent home was addressed with the building of a small 9-hole course at Deep Water Bay, before the Club eventually moved to its current location in Fanling,[1] most of which is leased from the Hong Kong government.[2] According to the Club annals, the Deep Water Bay location opened in 1898; and the 18-hole Old Course was completed in 1911. To expand the facility, in 1968, the Club negotiated the lease of around 30 acres of land at Beas River with which it expanded the Eden Course into a full 18-hole championship course. The 'Royal' was dropped from the name of the club in 1996, in advance of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China.[1]

The Club paid a one-off premium to lease the land, and is wrongly labelled to pay only a peppercorn rent annually. In 2012, the Club paid HK$1.9 million for rent and HK$3.2 million for rates.[3] In Year 2013/2014, the Government Rent Payable is HK$2,538,000.[4]


1889 – 1910[edit]

On 8 May 1889, a notice was published on the Hong Kong Daily Press:


Then, the "Royal Hong Kong Golf Club" was started in 1889 by "thirteen golfing enthusiasts" in a shared location in Happy Valley. According to "History of the Royal Hongkong Golf Club", which was written by T.F.R. Waters, of these thirteen, with the exception of Robert Murray Rumsey R.N. (then Hong Kong Harbour Master and the Rumsey Street was named after his name.) and Gershom Stewart (afterwards Knighted and a member of parliament for Hoylake) very few had much notion of the game but readily agreed to do what they could to established a foothold for it in the Colony. Although Captain Rumsey and Stewart had clubs and balls and had in fact been driving these balls within the race track at Happy Valley before 1889, the opinion of the Meeting was that attempts should be made to acquire land then in possession of the military in Kowloon. Rumsey had been elected Captain of the new club and had secured the consent of His Excellency the Governor – Sir William Des Voeux – to accept the Presidency. Despite this influence at Court the Military Authorities could not be persuaded to become cooperative and after some months the proposition had to be dropped. However on 30 September 1889 permission was eventually obtained from Hong Kong Government to use ground at Happy Valley. Money was raised and work was started making the Greens and Tees. The architect of the course at Happy Valley was Captain (afterwards Colonel) H. N. Dumbleton R.E. The work progressed rapidly and it is recorded that in May 1890 a match of six a side was played between the Club and the 91st Regiment of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, which the Club won easily.[6]

In 1896, Captain Rumsey and Captain Dumbleton examined the possibilities of Deep Water Bay as a possible solution to the ever increasing pressure from the ladies for extension of their very restricted privileges at Happy Valley as imposed by Commodore Boyes. Negotiations were opened with Government in June 1897 and with the not inconsiderable assistance of the Governor himself, Sir William Robinson, "the best friend the Club ever had", a lease of land for a small nine hole course at Deep Water Bay was concluded with Hong Kong government in 1898.[7]

On 1 September 1897 as a result of a letter addressed to Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Lord Chamberlain the following reply was addressed to Sir William Robinson G.C.M.G. Governor of Hong Kong: "Sir, With reference to your dispatch of 20th July addressed to the Right Honorable The Lord Chamberlain, The Earl of Lothian, I have the honour to inform you that on your application being laid before The Queen, Her Majesty was graciously pleased, in view of your recommendations, to give Her permission to the Hong Kong Golf Club being called 'The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club'." This announcement was received with great acclaim and duly celebrated by a banquet at which Sir William was an honoured guest.[8]

In 1903, the Club obtained exclusive use of Happy Valley ground except for Wednesdays and Saturdays, when soccer and cricket were played. From the start, use by ladies was heavily restricted. And when the club gained exclusive use of Happy Valley in 1903, ladies were allowed to play on Sundays only.[1]

In connection with this sharing of the ground at Happy Valley there is on record this remark made by the Captain at the Annual General Meeting of 1903 in connection with the playing of the final of the Club Championship at Happy Valley "The thanks of the Players are due to the Cricketers who so kindly stopped their game to let the Golfers through on each round.”

The proximity of the Golf Course to the football ground on occasions lead to misdirected shots landing in the football arena but no one seems to have been hit. There was however one occasion when the late "Auntie" Maitland misdirected her drive from the 1st tee and caused serious injury to the eye of a Marine.[9]

1911 – 1945[edit]

According to the Club annals, "protracted negotiations" with the government and local farmers resulted in sufficient land being obtained in Fanling, its current location, to build its first full 18-hole course that was completed in 1911.[1] The first idea was to use the Sun Wei valley but the Army Authorities opposed this. Messrs. T. S. Forrest, K. M. Cumming, L. S. Greenhill and M. A. Murray were appointed by the Club to view this grazing land. Their report was enthusiastic and favourable. Negotiations with Government were opened (1908) for a lease of sufficient land for a full size 18 hole course to be constructed. These negotiations with Government were protracted despite the Club receiving a great deal of assistance from the Governor, Sir Henry May, in dealing with the local farmers in the matter of acquiring certain extra pieces of land considered essential by the course architects. It was said that E.R. Hallifax, the then Tai Po District Officer, was the man more than any other responsible for the construction of a course at Fanling golf course. The relationship of the District Officer with the village elders everywhere was avuncular or, indeed, almost paternal.[10]In 1916, Sir Henry May arranged for the Club to acquire additional land to form a Relief Course for the use of the Ladies.

At the time the Old Course was laid out there were no trees at all on the Course except down by the 3rd Green and one or tow near the clubhouse site. Much forestry work was undertaken during ht period 1915 – 1919 but there was still very little to show yet except beautiful clumps of Lillies and Cannas on the hillsides. Grave mounds or "Pimples" as they were known plus innumerable jars of human bones existed on many of the fairways but these were for the most part removed in 1920 as the result of a generous grant through Sir Henry May of $50,000 which was paid out as compensation to the families owning them. There was a particular large number of the "Jars" at the base of the "Saddle" or as it is known today, "Tommy Tucker" (derived from the Cantonese "Mm ta-ka (唔得㗎)" – don't strike). These jars unfortunately were in direct line from the Tee and got broken one by one by duffed tee-shots. The penalty for picking out was one stroke but the picking was usually left to the caddie.[11]

Trees were conspicuous by their absence but then so was the grass on the fairways which were more rolled mud than anything else. This made the fairways very dusty especially on a windy day. The Greens were turfed with local grass, much of it 'cabbage', which made putting difficult whilst a great deal of trouble was constantly experienced from worms which fed upon the young fresh roots and didn't give the Green keepers a chance. The course was almost devoid all that there was a great deal of room for improving the original layout. The Committee appointed Mr. L.S. Greenhill to work out with Mr. Kerr (who had been general manager of the Club since 1914 and resided in the Orme Bungalow) on a new lay out and new bunkering.[12]

In 1919, a caddies union was discovered called "Po Tai Ngoi Yue" – Golf Caddies Club – which turned out to be a semi-triad society. The first caddie strike took place in April 1922 and was eventually settled.[13]

On 2 November 1931, the New Course which had been designed by L.S. Greenhill some years before, was officially opened by His Excellency Sir William Peel.[14]

It was said that Sir William Peel, the Governor of Hong Kong in early 1930s, was a keen golfer. Little was allowed to interfere with his weekly round of golf or his regular rides with the Fanling Hunt. He rode hard, plunging across the terraced rice fields, bogging down at times in the waterlogged mud.[15]

In 1933, George Bernard Shaw visited the Club.[16]

In 1936, Mr. Stanley H. Dodwell presented a "Captain's Chair" for the bar room to commemorate the disappearance of the last of the Pimples on the Old Course. Whenever the Captain is at Fanling and any other member or subscriber sits in the chair by mistake, the penalty will be one round of drinks at that particular table in memory of the departed pimples. It was fortunate that although this Chair was looted during WWII, it was spotted being used as a Sedan Chair slung between two poles and recovered for the Club.[17]

1945 – 1989[edit]

During the 1950s, all the greens remodelled and planted with Gezira[disambiguation needed] or Uganda grass. This grass has all come from a shoebox full of seeded soil taken from Uganda to Cairo during the war and one more sod of this grass was flown from Cairo to Hong Kong in 1951.[18]

Sir Sidney Gordon, C.B.E., J.P., former President of the Club, recalled his stopover at in Cairo airport in 1951. "During the usual one-hour stopover and, as relations between the United Kingdom and Egypt were rather strained, the customs officer was somewhat suspicious of this damp, sackcloth-wrapped, parcel and insisted on it being opened. The contents made him even more suspicious but the intervention of the air crew enabled us to get it on board just before take-off."[19]

By the end of 1956, the indebtedness of the Club had been reduced to $40,000 – a reduction of $387,000 in eight years.[20]

The first Hong Kong Open took place at the club in 1959.

Negotiations with the Jockey Club started in 1967 and, in due course, the Stewards of the Jockey Club agreed to recommend to their members that approximately 30 acres of land at Beas River, between the Jockey Club's West Paddock and Hang Tau Village Road, should be leased to the Golf Club. In return, the Golf Club would provide a 'ride' of about four or five miles, which would be laid out around the perimeter of the Golf Club property and would be available at all times for members of the Jockey Club. During the autumn of 1968, John Harris's proposals for the extension of the Eden Course were considered. The members approved expenditure of HK1.3 million on improvements to the Eden Course. On 10 October 1971, the 6,142-yard par-71 Eden Course was officially opened by Sir David Trench.[21]

Sir David Trench, Governor of Hong Kong from 1964 to 1971, was keen on golf. He had insisted on his regular game of golf even during the political turmoils in late 1960s.[22]

1990 – now[edit]

In 1996, in advance of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, the club dropped 'Royal' from its name.[1]

In the same year, Mr. Cheng Yuen, who acted as a caddie for golfers at the Deep Water Bay course of the Club from 1986 to 1995, brought a claim against the Club before the Labour Tribunal. He claimed that he was an employee of the Club and he asked for 26 days' wages in lieu of notice and a long service payment in view of his length of service. The Club's defence was that he was not an employee but an independent contractor so that he could not take advantage of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) which in section 2 defines "contract of employment" as "any agreement, whether in writing or oral, express or implied, whereby one person agrees to employ another and that other agrees to serve his employer as an employee ...". The Tribunal found in his favour and awarded him HK$33,840; Mrs. Justice Bokhary in the High Court upheld that decision.[23] The Court of Appeal allowed the Club's appeal and set aside the award in favour of Mr. Cheng.[24] On 20 May 1987 he was given special leave to appeal to the Privy Council. Despite Lord Hoffmann's dissenting opinion, the Council dismissed Cheng's appeal.[25]


In 1897, the Club's membership reached 250.[26]

By 1923, the Club's membership reached 800.[14]

In July 1964, it was decided to close the membership. All applicants, regardless of nationality, were put on the waiting list. The policy was to put the emphasis on giving membership to established golfers as opposed to beginners.[27]

The Club currently has 2,510 members, including 365 corporate nominee memberships.[28]

St. George's v St. Andrew's[edit]

Prior to 1921, there had been several matches of Scotland versus the Rest with usually very unsatisfactory results for the members of Scottish origin. In 1921, the first St. George's versus St. Andrew's Match was played in the month of January with, until 1926, a return match in December. After 1926, the December game was dropped probably due to the many other competition taking place in that month. Those playing for the Societies must be members of the Club as well as members of one of the Societies. Entries are not limited except in so far as it is possible to pair off. The losing team in the morning Singles matches pays for lunch. The record of these matches are as follows:[29]

Year Winner Year Winner Year Winner Year Winner
1921 St. Georges 1926 St. Georges 1936 St. Andrews 1951 St. Georges
St. Georges 1927 St. Georges 1937 St. Andrews 1952 St. Andrews
1922 St. Georges 1928 St. Georges 1938 St. Andrews 1953 St. Andrews
St. Andrews 1929 St. Georges 1939 St. Andrews 1954 St. Georges
1923 St. Georges 1930 St. Andrews 1940 St. Georges 1955 St. Georges
St. Georges 1931 St. Andrews 1941 St. Georges 1956 St. Georges
1924 St. Georges 1932 St. Georges 1947 N/A 1957 N/A
St. Georges 1933 St. Georges 1948 N/A 1958 N/A
1925 St. Georges 1934 St. Georges 1949 N/A 1959 N/A
St. Andrews 1935 St. Georges 1950 St. Andrews 1960 N/A

Debentures and nominee membership[edit]

After the WWII, the Fanling property had badly suffered from general neglect which was understandable in the circumstances. The trees had been cut down for fuel and parts of the course including most of the greens had been used for vegetable cultivation. The New Course had been used for training and a large number of fox holes had been built. The clubhouse was requisitioned by the British Army after the war. The rehabilitation was as expensive as had been forecast. The Club not only spent all its account balances but had to arrange for an overdraft which at one time was over $400,000. (The price of daily newspaper in Hong Kong was 20 cents in 1947/48.) To reduce this liability a debenture issue was authorised on the basis of HK$500 per member. A few of the long established firms such as the Hong Kong Bank and Jardines also took up a number of the debentures to aid the Club.[30]

In 1963, an EGM was called and a Fanling Development Scheme was approved. Two resolutions were passed authorising the Committee to proceed with a scheme for the extension of the Fanling clubhouse and the issue of debentures to the amount of HK$900,000 to cover the costs. A building levy of HK$5 per month for all members was also introduced. Actual and estimated capital expenditure on the improvement to the clubhouse totalled HK$1,214,000.[31]

In early 1970s, to raise capital for the new complex, including the swimming pool and the mixed accommodation, a scheme of Nominee Memberships was introduced. On payment of HK$5,000 – soon raised to HK$10,000 – a firm became entitled, after approval by the Club, to nominate an employee to membership. The Nominee Memberships were transferable, again subject to the Club's approval, on payment of a commission to the Club.[32]

At the AGM in 1980, it was decided to issue 30 Nominee Memberships to meet the expense of a redevelopment scheme to include a swimming pool and squash courts in Deep Water Bay. The new building at Deep Water Bay was completed in early 1983 at a cost of about HK$25 million.[33]

The financial problems were eventually overcome. Following many years of loss, a profit was reported in 1984 for the third year running. Since then, the Club has remained in the black.[34]

In 1986, 10 Nominee Memberships were issued in the price of HK$1.1 million to raise fund for the building of the automatic irrigation system, which piping secondary treated effluent from the sewage treatment plant belonging to one of those estates of the new town, Shek Wu Hui. This was the last time that the Club issued Nominee Membership.[35]

Visitors and green fees[edit]

The Club welcomes non-member Hongkongers on weekdays at HK$1,200 per round in the first year and HK$500 if they play after 3 pm. The greens fee rises to HK$2,000 and HK$1,000, respectively, after 12 rounds.[36] The Club offers practice sessions on the night range in 30-minute intervals from 7 pm until 10 pm Monday to Friday. These either start on the hour or half-hour allowing players unlimited use of range balls during these time periods. The night range fee for 30 minutes is HK$80.[37]


Besides golf, the Club offers swimming and tennis facilities, as well as restaurants and accommodation.

Happy Valley Club House[edit]

In 1896, the Club House was officially opened by Commodore Boyes. This Club House had been designed by Major Edward Albert Ram, entirely on a voluntary basis, as a keen golfer. It was built of stone with the main entrance facing the racecourse; lockers lined the walls and at one end there was a stone tablet recording the Club Champions since 1894. There was a Dressing room, bar and a caretaker's room. Mrs. Rumsey unfurled the Club flag and as a special gesture a Ladies' competition was played after the opening despite the heavy rain which was falling. The women who played in this historic event were Mesdames O'Gorman, Dalrymple, Eccles, Boyes and Miss Boyes and Miss Gordon. The winner was Mrs. O'Gorman. A few months later, portraits of Sir William Des Voeux and Sir William Robinson were presented to the Club and hung in the main entrance.[38]

In 1918, the disastrous fire broke out in matsheds near the Club House at Happy Valley. The flames spread so rapidly that it proved impossible to save any of the Club's records or stocks. Nothing but ashes.[39]

From that date the Club had been lent club room space once again by the Jockey Club but notice that this particular building was to be pulled down was given to the Golf Club at the end of 1928 and these rooms were consequently handed back to the owners in February 1929. The Club decided to build a new club House at Happy Valley at a cost of HK$30,000 and this was duly completed in November 1930 and officially opened early in 1931.[40]

After the World War II, the Club House had been thoroughly looted by the mobs during the hand-over interval as had every unoccupied residence in the Hong Kong and the Club decided to surrender this property to Government for many reasons not the least of which was financial.[30]

Deep Water Bay Club House[edit]

At the Annual General Meeting in 1898, it was decided to erect a single story Club House at Deep Water Bay and this was built in 1899. Major Edward Albert Ram, who designed the Happy Valley one, once more came to the Club's aid as he had by that time become a partner of Messrs Dennison, Ram and Gibbs' architects.[41]

During the war and after the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas day 1941, Deep Water Bay was used by the Japanese for various purposes for the most part as a transport depot but they also built piggeries and these provided the excellent flagstones which now surround the south and east sides of the Club House. The rehabilitation of Deep Water Bay was not undertaken until 1947/48 when Frank Groves and Hector Mundy did an excellent job.[42]

Fanling Club House[edit]

By 1911, the old course had been laid out and once more Edward Albert Ram of Messrs. Dennison, Ram & Gibbs designed the clubhouse, which was not however completed until 1914 and was originally known as the Dormie House.[43]

Half Way House[edit]

The Half Way House at Fanling is a Grade III historic building.[44] It is located on Fanling Golf Course. Inscriptions on a board over the entrance indicate that the building was erected in 1916 by Sir Henry May and T.S. Forrest Esq. Frank Hunter, Club Captain in 1950, donated money to form the garden at the Half-way House on the occasion of his retirement from Hong Kong. The pavilion is built in traditional Chinese Qing Vernacular style consisting of a partly open-sided structure formed of columns spaced at regular internals supporting a pitched and hipped Chinese tiled roof. One end of the pavilion has been enclosed to form a kitchen. The roof is decorated with curving end ridges to the hips, and a colourful ridge-board supporting two green dragons competing for the Pearl for Wisdom. Ornamental finials in the shape of fish, dripper tiles and a colourful eaves board complete the decorations to the roof which is supported on traditional Chinese roof trusses. The plinth is formed of unusual knapped stones. There are three flights of steps. The pavilion is a rare piece of Qing architecture. It was restored in 1998 and some alternations have been made.

Irrigation System[edit]

In 1980s, the Club introduced the recycling of domestic waste water collected from Fanling town centre to use as irrigation – making the courses more playable in winter.[28]

Tournaments hosted[edit]

Charity events[edit]

The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day[edit]

The participants concerted efforts helped render tangible support to the Chest's member agencies in providing a wide range of supportive and integrated services for the Mentally ill and Ex-mentally ill. From 2010 to 2014, the event raised from HK$1.6 million to HK$1.8 million.[45][46][47][48][49]

Year Amount Raised Teams Participants
2010 $1,725,960 49 200
2011 $1,802,800 50 200
2012 $1,653,600 47 190
2013 $1,617,644 47 190
2014 $1,630,097 47 190


  1. ^ a b c d e "Historic Milestones"
  2. ^ Agence France-Presse (7 August 2013). "Elite Hong Kong golf club could be bulldozed for flats". Bangkok Post.
  3. ^ Hong Kong Golf Club has proud tradition
  4. ^ LC Paper No. CB(2)285/13-14(01)
  5. ^ 8 & 9 May 1889 The Hong Kong Daily Press
  6. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.5-6
  7. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.9
  8. ^ Waters, T.F.R., History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, p.10
  9. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.12
  10. ^ Robinson, S. (1989), Festina Lente: A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, p.11
  11. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.16
  12. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.17 – 18
  13. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 81
  14. ^ a b Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.20
  15. ^ Spurr, Russell; "Excellency: Governors of Hong Kong", p.162
  16. ^ Hong Kong Golf in the 1960s – Part Two
  17. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.23
  18. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.27 – 28
  19. ^ "Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.1
  20. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.26
  21. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.40 – 46
  22. ^ Spurr, Russell; "Excellency: Governors of Hong Kong", p.221
  23. ^ Cheng Yuen v. The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, HKLA 37/1996
  24. ^ Cheng Yuen v. The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, CACV 146/1996
  25. ^ Yuen v. The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club (Hong Kong) 1997/UKPC40 (28 July, 1997)
  26. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.10
  27. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.38
  28. ^ a b Tearing up Fanling will destroy a unique asset
  29. ^ Waters, , T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club",p.95
  30. ^ a b Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.25
  31. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.36
  32. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.45
  33. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.55
  34. ^ Robinson, S. (1989) "Festina Lente, A History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 47
  35. ^ 張建東談「救亡」歷程 粉嶺高球場無地可取代
  36. ^ Who says golf's for the elite? Cheap clubs go a long way, golfers says
  37. ^ The Hong Kong Golf Club – Night Range
  38. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 8-9
  39. ^ Waters, T.F.R, "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.16
  40. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 20-21
  41. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.11
  42. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.24
  43. ^ Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p14
  44. ^ Brief Information on Proposed Grade III Items. Item#805, p.430
  45. ^ The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day 2009–2010
  46. ^ The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day 2010–2011
  47. ^ The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day 2011–2012
  48. ^ The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day 2012–2013
  49. ^ The Community Chest BOCHK Charity Golf Day 2013–2014

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°29′32″N 114°06′56″E / 22.492178°N 114.115419°E / 22.492178; 114.115419