Hainan, China: St Andrews Links Trust has announced plans to license its first overseas Golf Academy in China.
The new project, which will see the creation of a St Andrews Links branded Golf Academy in Simapo Island, Hainan, will look to harness the renown and reputation of the Home of Golf in order to help develop the game in one of the world’s biggest emerging golf markets.
The Links is working in partnership with White Horse Holdings, who are developing a golf complex on Simapo Island, to deliver an innovative facility with the latest technology and an expert team of PGA qualified instructors.
St Andrews Links Trust Chief Executive Euan Loudon told Golf Business News: “St Andrews has a long-standing reputation of introducing others to its values and expertise, those fundamental to the game of golf itself, around the world.
“In the 19th and 20th century competition, caddies, golf equipment manufacturing, greenkeeping techniques, which were all born and evolved over hundreds of years in St Andrews, were shared with the wider world and the popularity of the game grew and grew, culminating in it becoming the global sport we see today.
“As we look forward to this exciting new venture we wish to build on those traits by harnessing our renown and reputation as the Home of Golf, with values so intrinsic to St Andrews and golf, and sharing them in a country where passion and interest in the game is at the beginning of a very exciting era.
“Our Golf Academy has built a reputation for expert instruction and innovation, linking the values of the past with state-of-the-art technology of the present to position itself in the vanguard of instruction.
“This approach has ensured we have welcomed some of the best young talent in Scotland, such as Amateur Champion Bradley Neil and the University of St Andrews Golf Teams, through our doors in recent years.
“This and the continued success of the St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association (SALJGA), which strives to introduce every child in St Andrews to the game and encourage knowledge and understanding, has helped us to understand what we could do and how we could deliver a project of this nature overseas.
“Working with Mr Han [Ziding, Chairman of White Horse Holdings and Chief Executive of Golf Channel China] and his team we believe our practices, which will be reflected in this new facility, can become a gateway for golfers of all ages and abilities in China to learn about the game and encourage participation in golf.”
Han said: “I have been in the golf industry for 10 years and in that period, myself and the White Horse Group, including Golf Channel China, have been very fortunate. We have developed trusted relationships with many great golf organisations, such as the US PGA, European Tour, R&A and the USGA, which has enabled us to telecast more than 100 leading international golf events annually.
“We have become a bridge between Chinese golf fans and the international community. And like our audience, our knowledge of the game has grown exponentially too.
“I first came to St Andrews on my birthday seven years ago and wanted to try and play the Old Course. There were no tee times but I approached the starter and somehow after just a few minutes I was on the first tee of the world’s most famous links. What followed was a wonderful experience and the beginning of a special affinity with this special place.
“Luck shone on me that day and it did so again when I returned on my 50th birthday last year. The Island project was already underway and I walked into the St Andrews Links Golf Academy and met Director of Instruction Steve North. I quickly realised that the Golf Academy’s reputation for excellence and innovation, combined with what St Andrews means around the world were the perfect fit for our project.
“Over the past 18 months we have worked closely with Euan Loudon and his team to make this project a reality. The Golf Academy on The Island carries our mutual dream to share and promote the values of the Home of Golf to China.”
Loudon added: “We have explored similar projects elsewhere and sought a partner who shared our philosophies and a project that matched our abilities and ambitions. In Han Ziding, White Horse Holdings and this remarkable site in China we could not have wished for a better way to begin the next chapter in the rich history of St Andrews Links.”
Work is already underway on the new facility, which will neighbour an 18-hole course, which has already been built on the island by White Horse Holdings. It is hoped the Golf Academy will open for business in April 2015.
PGA professional Richard Sheridan, who has extensive experience of the golf market in China, has been appointed Director of Instruction at the new facility, which will be comprised of six instructors with St Andrews Link Director of Instruction North offering support.
Loudon added: “We look forward to the opening of the Academy at Simapo Island and hope to see future generations of golfers pass through its doors, learning not just about technique but how the game and its values have evolved and developed over hundreds of years at the Home of Golf.
“We look forward to the prospect of connecting with golfers in China and hope to assist Mr Han with the development of the game and future champions, who will one day, come and compete across the famous links at St Andrews.”