Hong Kong: Alan Sutcliffe, a doyen of the Asian golfing scene who took part in the inaugural Hong Kong Open in 1959, has passed away at the age of 86.
Sutcliffe – fondly known as Uncle Al and a founder of the Open and the Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) – had been suffering from lung cancer, which was diagnosed last year.
“Uncle Al was an absolute gentleman right until the very end,” god-daughter Christine Smith-Mann said in a Facebook post.
Sutcliffe was one of the top amateurs in Asia in the 1950s and 1960s and was part of Hong Kong’s winning team in the inaugural Putra Cup in 1961.
“The Hong Kong Golf Association is deeply saddened by the news that Alan Sutcliffe has passed away,” said HKGA chief executive Tom Phillips. “Uncle Al was a huge part of golf in Hong Kong throughout many years … in the founding of the Hong Kong Open in 1959 and then, in 1968, the establishment of the HKGA to assist in the running of the championship.
“As a player, Alan enjoyed much success for Hong Kong, winning many tournaments and representing Hong Kong on numerous occasions. Among these, he was crowned Hong Kong Open Amateur champion in 1959. Even when he wasn’t playing, Alan remained a strong supporter of Hong Kong golf.”
Sutcliffe joined the Hong Kong Golf Club [HKGC] in 1954 and it had become virtually his second home since.
Ian Gardner, General Manager at the HKGC, a Golf Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, said: “His list of honours as a player is lengthy, but it was what he gave back to the game and to the club that endeared him to his many friends and fellow club members.
“Alan joined the Hong Kong Golf Club in October 1954 soon after arriving in Hong Kong and quickly established a reputation for being one of the top amateur golfers.
“He served as the club’s captain in 1986 and contributed greatly to every aspect of the club’s development over the last 61 years as a committeeman and a source of encouragement and inspiration to golfers of all ages. In 2011, the club recognised his many contributions by awarding him life membership.
“Uncle Al was a gentleman to the core; a highly respected and well-loved member of this club who will be sorely missed by his many friends and the staff of the Hong Kong Golf Club.”
-Article and picture reproduced with kind permission of the South China Morning Post