PREMIER XI JINPING'S CLAMPDOWN on the building of golf courses in China meant the loss of many years hard work and investment for western course architects. Renowned designer Brian Curley lost several high profile courses, including Sunshine Hills and the 54-hole Stone Forest International Country Club, Yunnan. Tom Doak had been 3 years building Simapo Island course in southern Hainan Province, which has warm winters and was envisaged as a tourist hub for Asian golfers, but a halt was called by central government, citing improper use of water and arable land.
Courses had often been built as part of luxury housing developments and described as “leisure facilities” while local governments looked the other way. But Xi Jinping was concerned about corruption by unscrupulous entrepreneurs. “Like fancy cars and mansions, golf is a tool that businessmen use to hook officials,” one state-owned newspaper said. But golf is the passion of many Chinese people and the luxury golf clubs were not going to go away.
In October (Virus permitting) the Asia Pacific Golf Group will be holding the 2020 World Golf Expo in China. The three day exhibition, open to the golf trade and consumers, will be held at the Mission Hills Golf Club, Haikou, a complex of 22 18-hole courses. It will comprise a two-day high-level business summit and The Asian Golf Awards.
World class tournaments likeThe WGC-HSBC Champions (won in 2019 by Rory McIlroy) are held at Sheshan Golf Club near Shanghai, an oasis of pure air and unbelievable luxury, with a joining fee of around £300,000. The Tuscan imitation villas sell for up to £30m and are amongst the most valuable area of retail property in the world.
All this is no consolation to Brian Curley, several of whose courses now stand deserted. Remembering Stone Forest, which he had designed near a World Heritage Site, he said nostalgically: “It was stunning, with sharp and hazardous rocks, and the open areas and thorny bushes were thick with spider webs with massive spiders, so walking the site was a bit of an adventure.”
On second thoughts, perhaps golfers won't miss Stony Forest so much after all.
TO RAKE OR NOT TO RAKE. Most of the players in this area never rake the bunkers anyway so we won't notice any difference!
TIGER WOODS WAS ELECTED to join the World Golf Hall of Fame in March, although he won't be inducted unil December, when he turns 45. Tiger won his first major by 12 shots with an 18 under par at the 1997 Masters, and added 82 PGA Tour victories and 13 more majors over the next 11 years, including four in a row (the “Tiger Slam,”) before winning his 15th last April at Augusta. He also holds a number of PGA Tour records including the most cuts made in a row (142))and most weeks spent atop the world golf rankings (683.) He's probably done enough to earn the honour. My wife says perhaps now he'll stop spitting all over the course.
Lockdown letter: With so much cooking, I recently bought a meter to measure indoor pollution levels and observed high readings of PM2.5 particles when my wife was frying steak.
The link between PM2.5 particles and ill health is similar to that between smoking and lung disease, there is no safe level to avoid long-term risks. However, I can confirm that there are severe immediate health risks associated with criticising my wife’s cooking.
IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP. JULY
LEE WESTWOOD, who won his first British Masters in September 2007 at the Belfry, is hosting next month's tournament at Close House, County Durham. He commented: “As it's now being held in July the weather will hopefully be great. “(don't count on it.) Shame it's called the “Betfred” British Masters now, it sounds so common, as my mum would say.
Sir Graham Wylie, co-founder of Sage, invested £25 million in the Close House Estate, nestled in the beautiful Tyne Valley between the River and Hadrian’s Wall. The estate, which was once a stud farm, consists of the 18-hole Filly course, the 9-hole Yearling and The International Colt Course, described as “drop dead gorgeous” with interesting features including a Roman fort.
Westwood, the touring professional at Close House, hosted the British Masters there in 2017, the European Tour's first visit to the north east for 15 years. Paul Dunne held off Rory McIlroy with 7 birdies and an eagle for a final round 61. 70,000 fans turned up. Unfortunately, this year it will be just the players and the trophy.
ON THEIR FINAL HOLE of the first round at RBC Heritage Webb Simpson drove his ball 220 yards into the fairway, while the recently beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau blasted his tee shot 308 yards into a greenside bunker 25 yds from the hole. Simpson hit a wedge from 115 yards to six feet and holed the birdie putt while DeChambeau splashed out to five feet and missed the putt. It's not all about muscle. The Incredible Hulk couldn't putt either.
JUSTIN ROSE WON the Farmers Insurance Open in 2019 after signing a multi-equipment deal with Japanese clubmakers Honma, but he recently parted company with them and reverted to using mostly Taylor Made clubs.
Golf Monthly said: “Justin tested the new TR20 driver earlier his year, it's quite fiddly and complicated, maybe it didn't suit him, which is strange because he was involved in the design. He had three missed cuts out of four events so clearly something was wrong for a player who is normally so consistent.”
WHEN WORKING, most caddies are paid around £1,000 a week plus 10% of the boss's winnings bonus (unless he happens to be Matt Kuchar.) They don't all have the luck of Gary Player 's caddie Eddie McCoy. After winning the 1978 Masters Player bought Eddie a house.
IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP. AUGUST
Famous words from the 1964 film. The young Sean Connery had to take golfing lessons before filming the scene to make it look authentic. It started his life-long love affair with golf. Gert Frobe who played Auric Goldfinger, was already a good golfer. Stoke Park Golf Club was the backdrop for one of cinema's most celebrated golf duels, and after the release of Goldfinger sales of the Penfold Heart rocketed. The logo is different now and golfballs with the original logo claim high prices. A limited set of one dozen Penfold Hearts has been produced to celebrate the anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth.
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU endured his worst ever score on one hole on the par 5 15th at the Memorial. After a tee shot in the water and three shots out-of bounds, one of which he loudly contested, Dechambeau stomped after his ball, chipped onto the green and
Langer (62) planned his own fitness routines during the enforced break. “I swing a lead-weighted 7 iron, have a treadmill, exercise bike and pool, and I do putting and chipping in our back yard.” Forget washing lines and dustbins, this is Bernhard Langer's backyard, the size of Wentworth. Unfortunately being fit as a butchers dog didn't help him at the Ally Challenge, Michigan when the Seniors Tour resumed on August 2nd. He came in 7th behind Jim Furyk who won comfortably at 14 under. Back to the press-ups.
ANOTHER GOLFER with a brain the size of a pea. When play was suspended due to lightning at the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland sprinted for the buggies closest to the hole he was on and tried to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately the buggy was parked in reverse and Gary ended up tangled in a fence. Pity there were no spectators, but his opponent had a good laugh.
TOM CRUISE chose to accept his Mission Impossible to land a helicopter on the 9thgreen at Richmond Golf Course, walk into the elegant early Georgian clubhouse in jeans and trainers and demand lunch. The normally sniffy restaurant obliged him. They couldn't know his cheque would self-destruct in 30 seconds.
Until next time, Happy Golfing.
Contact Mick for regrippng and repairs. Tel 638 859 475.