Hong Kong: With just days to go before the UBS Hong Kong Open tees-off, the tournament’s community outreach programme is already in full swing.
With enhanced accessibility to the tournament a priority for the organising partners, the tournament is set to host a wider audience of local community groups than ever before in 2016.
Following the success of last year’s free entry to the tournament’s opening day, which saw over 10,000 spectators attend on ‘Free Thursday’, the 2016 Open is doubling down by offering complimentary entry for all on both Thursday and Friday, while visitors under the age of 21 can attend the tournament for free across all four days.
In addition, 5,000 tickets have been distributed to over 30 community groups covering non-governmental organisations, ethnic minority groups, and health and wellness and youth related charities. The initiatives align with the tournament objective to grow the game of golf in the broader community with the support of the Mega Events Fund (MEF).
The first community initiatives will be rolled out prior to the start of the tournament with participating stars Ian Poulter and Rich Beem conducting a golf clinic for members of the HKGA Junior Golf programme at the Tuen Mun Golf Centre.
The sharing sessions will continue into the opening days of tournament play with hosted visits to the Open for schools from the Hong Kong Golf Club’s after-school programme on Thursday.
On Friday, some of the star players participating in the UBS Hong Kong Open will support golf clinics run for the Hong Kong Special Olympics Golf team and the Hong Kong Blind Sports Federation.
Title sponsor UBS is once again making outreach the centerpiece of its sponsorship, with over 100 students to be hosted at the championship on Thursday and Friday.
The students come from three local schools: the YCH Chan Iu Seng Primary School in the New Territories, the Confucian Tai Shing Primary School in Wong Tai Sin and the Sheung Shui Wai Shui Public School. The schools are all affiliated with the UBS supported Hong Kong Council of Early Childhood Education Services (CECES) programme.
During their visit to Fanling, the students will enjoy a unique opportunity to learn more about the game with an ‘introduction to golf’ session that covers rules and etiquette basics, followed by a volunteer-led opportunity to watch the action on the course.
After watching the action live from the fairways, the students will return to the UBS children’s zone in the Spectator Village for some short English-language learning sessions focused around golf terms learned earlier in the day.
They will then be able to enjoy some free-time playing SNAG golf and participating in the 45-minute UBS Junior Art Hub sessions in the Village, before being treated to lunch.
The Honorable Jeffrey Lam, Chairman of the Mega Events Fund Assessment Committee, said: “MEF is committed to supporting mega events in Hong Kong to promote tourism, raise the profile of Hong Kong internationally and promote Hong Kong as an events capital of Asia.
“The UBS Hong Kong Open, a prestigious tournament with a wide international appeal, has always attracted the highest quality field and plays an important part in showcasing Hong Kong as a vibrant city and a top destination for leisure and business travel. With the support of the Mega Events Fund, we are pleased to know that the community outreach programme ‘HK18’ will not only enrich the travel experience of visitors, but also engage a broader local community to take part in this iconic sports event.”
The community benefits of the UBS Hong Kong Open are underscored by the second staging of the UBS Hong Kong Open Charity Cup, which raised in excess of HK$2.3 million (about US$290,000) for three local charities in 2015, and has been expanded to include a fourth beneficiary in 2016.
UBS is also staging a charity hole-in-one campaign on the 12th hole in 2016 in support of Operation Santa Claus. The first player who cards a hole-in-one during tournament play will trigger an automatic donation of US$10,000 for Operation Santa Claus with a further US$10,000 won by the player.
Supported by the Hong Kong MEF, the UBS Hong Kong Open is the longest-running sporting event in Asia and is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association.
The event takes place at the Hong Kong Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Hainan Island, China: Yalong Bay Golf Club, one of China’s best-known and most prolific tournament venues, has joined the Asian Golf Industry Federation.