One of South Africa’s top-senior golfers Tony Bailey (currently ranked 19th on the SA Seniors Order of Merit) had a strong performance at the recent Hong Kong Senior Open with a 7th place.
Bailey (De Zalze) was asked to give his feed-back regarding his experience at this tournament:
“I was invited to play the Hong Kong Senior Championships some years ago, but I just could not commit to play. In fact, it was when I was running Western Province Golf so, I couldn’t really justify the trip.
As my situation has changed - I currently do business with people in China and they happen to live in Hong Kong - so I could justify the trip.
The tournament was played at The Hong Kong Golf Club. There are 3 courses at the club. The Old Course, The New Course and The Eden course. Originally, the tournament was to be played on the Eden course but with preparations in place to play the Hong Kong Open there, they moved our tournament to The Old Course.
What a beautiful course. Undulating greens, green speed of 13 on the stimp meter and very tight lies on the fairways and green surrounds make it all about ball striking. Lots of bush and beautiful old trees line the fairways.
I’m not sure what grass they have, but I’ve never experienced greens like these. There seems to be no resistance from the grass and the putting stroke should be just that ! No hit in the stroke. The ball just rolls beautifully along the surface.
The very fast greens made chipping and putting extremely difficult. After a disappointing first round of 78, I realized that everyone was finding it difficult. Even the seasoned visitors to this tournament battles. I was in 12th position after round 1 and John Winter from WP was in 36 position.
On day 2, I felt a little more comfortable and really felt I hit the ball well. I scored 73 and that elevated me into T2 going into the final round.
Sadly day 3 was probably one round too many for me. (It was our 4th round -1 complimentary practice round on Monday) I didn’t feel in control of my game and didn’t have the same confidence on the greens, as I had on the first 2 days. I scored 83 which dropped me back to T7 for the week. I guess it’s not on bad for the first time on the course and learning how to negotiate the grass etc.
I must compliment the Hong Kong Golf Association. I relate most tournaments to the manner in which WP and Boland run their events, but this event was exemplary.
From registration, to the check in on the 1st tee, to the announcing of the players to play. They had Course Marshall’s and referees. An independent tournament director works directly with the course superintendent leading up to the event and lays out exactly what and how he wants the course prepared and set up.
I’m not sure if this was extra special this year because of the preparations of the European Tour event, which should have been played a week or so before but the course was immaculate. We commented on the perfect cutting of the holes on the greens to all aspects of the course.
I think what made this special, was the fact that we were so welcomed by all staff and players. They really appreciated the fact that we made the effort to travel all the way to play in Hong Kong.
Of course, the trip would not be the same if we didn’t socialize with a lot of the guys who also travelled to play. There were players from Scotland, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
We promised them that we would promote the event and try and get more players to play next year.
The entrance fee was HK$750 (SAR 1440 ) Obviously it’s not cheap and a long way to go, but it was certainly a wonderful experience.”