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Tee Time – The 6 new rules changing the old landscape of golfing

Tee Time – The 6 new rules changing the old landscape of golfing

Golf is suddenly more accessible and open to a broader demographic than ever before. In Hong Kong, there are a number of factors that have driven the sport’s reinvention, notably a new generation of approachable pro players, the involvement of several modish brands and a move to make courses less off-putting and more welcoming.

All of this has coincided with the upswing in popularity the game has enjoyed throughout the course of the Covid outbreak. Indeed, according to industry statistics, 2020 saw a net increase of more than 60 million rounds of golf, the biggest 12-month rise since 1997, the year when Tiger Woods suddenly made the sport sexier than it had ever been before.

As to why this recent uptick in its popularity has been sustained, well there’s no single answer. Undoubtedly many of those who took it up as a Covid respite found it to be singularly enjoyable, a bracing form of exercise and something of a personal challenge. As mingling restrictions have been relaxed, many have also discovered golf’s traditional benefits as a high-level networking opportunity.

As a consequence, an ever-growing number of the sport’s Hong Kong-based devotees are taking to the greens of the Discovery Bay Golf Club and the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. At the same time, there has also been far wider utilisation of the virtual golf facilities of Bay 247 and the Maximus Golf Studio.

For those looking to get the most from this perennially popular pastime, however, there are a few things worth bearing in mind.

Dress to Express

Today, a lot of brands are upending the concept of country club casual by promoting the notion that golf attire can actually be stylish. Combining streetwear smarts, the skateboarding spirit and high-end performance fabrics, several midrange lifestyle brands – notably Adidas, Nike and Lululemon – have sought to revolutionise the sport’s avowedly conservative look. Now, in contrast to the traditional sea of shiny and boxy polo shirts, players can opt instead for bucket hats, rugby-inspired polos and workwear-inspired golf trousers. Of course, long-time fans of such conservative pro-shop brands as Lacoste, Peter Millar and Ralph Lauren need not worry, as such attire is still more than acceptable. In truth, there are far fewer restraints on wearing just what you feel comfortable in.

Swingers Welcome

If you’re looking to practice a few swings against a truly picturesque back, then the Kau Sai Chau Golf Club might be just what you are looking for. Arguably the epicentre of Hong Kong golf’s new wave movement, this Sai Kung course is managed by The Jockey Club and is the only public green in Hong Kong designed by Gary Player, the veteran South African pro-golfer. The ever welcoming course typically draws a varied crowd, including local die-hards, aspirant millennials and even a few hugely talented youngsters, some no more than 11 years old. Whether you are attempting your first swing or it’s your 10,000th round, you’ll find ready acceptance at this friendly facility. Thanks to the city’s relatively clement weather, the course’s easy access and the greater flexibility offered by the wider deployment of working-from-home practices, the Club is undergoing something of a mini-boom. Its growing popularity, though, shouldn’t deter you from giving it a go.

Catching Coaches

Like many aspects of contemporary life, golf tuition has been transformed by the arrival of all things digital. Now, in addition to getting as much real-life practice as possible, would-be Jack Nicklauses can also access endless streaming YouTube instructional videos and get swing ideas from various dedicated online nooks. In addition, many real-life tour-level coaches – including Mike Bender, Zach Johnson’s coach, who shares snippets of his daily lessons on Instagram, and George Gankas who invented the bizarre swing of professional Matthew Wolff – are also among the virtual resources many are only too keen to make the most of. Also worth tracking down is the Skillset app, which connects you with a variety of driving range exports,

A little closer to home, the Upper Loft in Sheung Wan boasts a state-of-the-art Korean indoor golf simulator. It also offers PGAcertified professional coaches, while giving you the opportunity to virtually travel the globe and digitally practice your swing at any one of 200 internationally renowned golf courses, including St Andrews and Pebble Beach.

Multimedia Magic

Gone are the days when there were only a relatively small number of outlets providing golf news and gossip, most of which were dominated by worthy and lengthy equipment reviews. Now, in line with the overall transformation of the sport, there has also been something of a golf media revolution, one driven by a desire to share the love of the game and challenge any preexisting notion as to exactly who can take part. Those now keen to gen up on the latest golfing happenings have a wide selection of  sources to choose from, including podcasts, magazines and online communities, as well as such dedicated organisations as No Laying Up, The Golfer’s Journal and Random Golf Club.

Media Personality Pros

Aside from dominating tournaments and collecting record purses, Tiger Woods, arguably, did more to popularise golf than any other player in history. While his heyday may be long gone, his legacy lives on and his mantle has been taken up by a new generation of hugely popular, eminently media-savvy players. Among the most notable has been Max Homa, the US professional prone to live tweeting about the game like any try fan even while in the middle of actually losing a tournament. Then there’s Joel Dahmen and Harry Higgs, two players whose physique-flashing tendencies may in part account for the growing number of ladies confessing a love for the game. The game-enhancing appeal of those pros is likely to be given a further boost by their appearance in Drive to Survive, the popular Netflix sports series.

Crossing the golf gulf

The world has long been divided neatly into two – those who love golf with an intensity that borders on obsession and those who despise the game with an equal and opposite passion. For the most part, such negative perceptions have been down to a somewhat dated view of golf aficionados, one that has seen them largely dismissed as snooty, weirdly-clad, fifty-something males who are far from keen on sharing their hallowed green with any notably different demographics.

It is, however, clear that this view is now every bit as dated as the tartan trews that was once de rigueur on-courses wear for the golferrrati. It should now be obvious that this sport has ably courted participants of every rank, gender and age group, effortlessly reinventing itself as a non-pareil equal access pastime. Should any doubts be lingering, a quick tour of your nearest green should quickly overcome them and convince you that, no matter who you are, it really is tee time for one and all.


(Text:Joseff Musa)

2023-01-27T11:36:07+00:00 January 27, 2023|Lifestyle|