Hong Kong: England’s Aaron Rai, the newly crowned Honma Hong Kong Open champion, said the Fanling course is a rare gem in world golf and it would be a shame if the Government were to raze the site and build public housing on it.
US Masters champion Patrick Reed joined Rai and other golfers in expressing hope that the Hong Kong Golf Club (HKGC) courses are saved.
When asked how he would feel if he were to return to Hong Kong in 10 years and find that the New Territories venue had been turned into buildings, 23-year-old Rai said: “It would be a real shame if that was to happen.
“We play so many amazing courses on the European Tour, and sometimes the players as a whole are very hard to please and you kind of get mixed reviews about courses week to week.
“But this is one of those rare venues where 99.9 per cent of the people love it. It’s not crazy long. It’s tough,” said Rai, who shot a course record nine-under-par 61 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Matthew Fitzpatrick in the 60th edition of the tournament.
“You have to think well and you have to play well. There are not many courses like this in the world,” he added.
Talk of turning Hong Kong golf course into housing dominates city’s first public forum on land supply.
Earlier this year, a Government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply was given five months to carry out a public consultation to address the shortage of land for housing and economic development. Using the 170-hectare Fanling site, home to three courses, for housing was one of 18 options put forward. The Government is expected to announce the results of the consultation in December.
The site has been run by the HKGC since 1911 under a Government lease that expires in August 2020. The Government’s decision could affect up to HK$6 billion worth of corporate memberships.
In May, then club captain Arnold Wong said the club would fight to protect all its courses and would not accept any proposal to redevelop even part of the grounds.
Reed said he would be disappointed if Hong Kong were to lose the Fanling golf course. “I love the golf course. I’ve always enjoyed coming here to play in the golf tournament … the fans, the people, the golf course, everybody around here have been welcoming and friendly so for me I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t still here.
“But at the same time, I want Hong Kong to do whatever is best for Hong Kong. At the end of the day, whatever is good for Hong Kong, the best decision needs to be made.”
The Hong Kong Golf Club is a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
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