Singapore: A busy year of championships lies ahead as the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) makes up for lost time with events in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Spain.
“This is a very big year for our championships because it’s a catch-up year really after three long years of Covid delays,” said John Hopkins, Chairman of the APGC’s Championship Committee.
Perth-based Hopkins is bullish about the APGC’s expanded calendar of events for 2023 which includes the launch of the APGC Mid-Amateur championships, scheduled for Malaysia’s Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in early June.
“This year we’re inaugurating a Mid-Amateur Championship for both men and women. It’s for those in the region that are aged between 25 to 54 and are perhaps past their golfing prime, but not at senior level. We’re creating playing opportunities for them,” said Hopkins, who has served on the APGC Board since late 2017.
Also to look forward to is the resumption of the Bonallack Trophy and Patsy Hankins Trophy. The Ryder Cup-style match play events, which pit the leading players from the Asia-Pacific against their counterparts from the European Golf Association, will be held at Spain’s La Manga Club in the first week of August.
Hopkins said: “They were last held five years ago in Qatar. That’s the impact that Covid had. We were meant to have these championships in 2020.
“It’s a very big event. We were reflecting on some of the players that have played in the past – we’ve had Shane Lowry and Jon Rahm on one side and Hideki Matsuyama and Cam Smith on the other.
“When I first got involved in that in 1998, Justin Rose was part of the European team and Geoff Ogilvy was part of the Asia-Pacific team. So, it’s got a very rich tradition, even though it was only established in 1998.”
The Patsy Hankins Trophy was inaugurated in 2016 with the Asia-Pacific triumphant on the two occasions it’s been held. Major champions Yuka Saso and Patty Tavatanakit along with Atthaya Thitikul, winner of the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) who rose to number one in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking last year, were all part of the 2018 team.
Hopkins, who was present at the APGC Board meeting held during the sixth edition of the WAAP in Singapore last week, also highlighted the return of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) to Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the first time since 2014. The event is scheduled for the final week of October.
“We’ll be playing the Composite Course again – one of the best courses in the world. Royal Melbourne is delighted to be holding the AAC again. I was there the week before last and played the West Course and it’s in fantastic condition,” said Hopkins, Chair of Golf Australia from 2011 to 2019 and an Advisory Member of The R&A Rules and Amateur Status Committees from 1996 to 2008.
“I know the members of Augusta National are very keen to come back down to Australia as, I’m sure, are members of The R&A. And, of course, the players will be overjoyed to play a course of that quality. It’s rare for them to be able to play a top-five course in the world.”
More immediately, there are two significant junior events on the schedule – The Royal Junior Tournament at The Royal Golf Club in Tokyo next month followed by the APGC Junior Championships at Orchard Golf & Country Club in the Philippines in May.
The year of APGC tournaments will be concluded with the APGC Senior Championships for men and women in November.
Hopkins said: “It’s exciting times for the APGC. We’ve grown enormously since the days when we just had the Nomura Cup every couple of years.
“It’s great to be involved in developing the game in our own way through championships around the Asia-Pacific region.”
APGC CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR 2023
April 22-24: The Royal Junior Tournament, The Royal Golf Club, Japan
May 15-18: Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation Junior Championships, Orchard Golf & Country Club, Philippines
June: APGC Mid-Amateur Championship, Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, Malaysia (dates TBC)
August 3-5: Bonallack Trophy, La Manga Club, Spain
August 3-5: Patsy Hankins Trophy, La Manga Club, Spain
October 26-29: Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia
November: Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation Senior Championships (dates and venue TBC)