Hong Kong Golf Club
|Location||Fanling, Hong Kong|
|Tournaments hosted||Hong Kong Open|
|Deep Water Bay|
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 nine hole course at Deep Water Bay, before the club eventually moved to its current location in Fanling. 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.
The club currently has 2,510 members, including 365 corporate nominee memberships. 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 3pm. The greens fee rises to HK$2,000 and HK$1,000, respectively, after 12 rounds.
"GENTLEMEN INTERESTED IN THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GAME OF GOLF ARE REQUESTED TO ATTEND A MEETING TO BE HELD IN THE HONGKONG CLUB ON FRIDAY 10TH MAY, 1889 AT 5 P.M. TO CONSIDER THE QUESTION OF STARTING A GOLF LINKS IN HONGKONG OR KOLWOON."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. The first idea was to utilize 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 favorable. 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. In 1916, Sir Henry May arranged for the Club to acquire additional land to form a Relief Course for the use of the Ladies.
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.
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. In Year 2013/2014, the Government Rent Payable is HK$2,538,000. The first Hong Kong Open took place at the club in 1959.
Courses and facilities
The club has two locations, and consists of a 9-hole course in Deep Water Bay, and 3-course facility occupying 170 hectare (420 acre) of land in Fanling, most of which is leased from the Hong Kong government. 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.
- Deep Water Bay, est. 1898 - 9 hole
- Old Course, est. 1911 - 18 hole
- New Course, est. 1931 - 18 hole
- Eden Course, est. 1970 - 18 hole
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.
Happy Valley Club House
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deep Water Bay Club House
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.
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.
Fanling Club House
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.
The Fanling property had been occupied by the Japanese Army during the War and 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.) In order to reduce this liability a debenture issue was authorized 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.
Half Way House
The Half Way House at Fanling is a Grade III historic building. 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 colorful ridge-board supporting two green dragons competing for the Pearl for Wisdom. Ornamental finials in the shape of fish, dripper tiles and a colorful 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.
- Hong Kong Open, 1959 to present
- Colgate-Hong Kong Open, 1976
- Johnnie Walker Classic, 1990
- Dunhill Cup - Asian Zone
- Eisenhower and Espirito Santo Trophies, 1984
- Ageas HKPGA Championship 2014
- "Historic Milestones"
- Tearing up Fanling will destroy a unique asset
- Who says golf's for the elite? Cheap clubs go a long way, golfers says
- Agence France-Presse (7 August 2013). "Elite Hong Kong golf club could be bulldozed for flats". Bangkok Post.
- 8 & 9 May 1889 The Hong Kong Daily Press
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.5-6
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.9
- Waters, T.F.R., History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, p.10
- Waters, T.F.R., “History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club”, p.12
- Spurr, Russell; "Excellency: Governors of Hong Kong", p.162
- Hong Kong Golf in the 1960s - Part Two
- Spurr, Russell; "Excellency: Governors of Hong Kong", p.221
- Hong Kong Golf Club has proud tradition
- LC Paper No. CB(2)285/13-14(01)
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 8-9
- Waters, T.F.R, "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.16
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p. 20-21
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.25
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.11
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.24
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p14
- Waters, T.F.R., "History of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club", p.25
- Brief Information on Proposed Grade III Items. Item#805, p.430
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hong Kong Golf Club.|
- Olga Wong (7 July 2013). "Hong Kong Golf Club open to losing Fanling courses to housing, lawmaker says: Fanling Club management 'open' to considering government plans for housing at venue of the oldest professional golfing tournament in Asia". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- SCMP Editorial (29 July 2013). "Hong Kong public care more about affordable flats than golf". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 July 2013.