Whilst The European Tour’s presence in Hong Kong is focused primarily on staging the UBS Hong Kong Open, a secondary aim is to leave a lasting legacy by working alongside the Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) in developing its burgeoning Elite Junior Programme.
Since The European Tour began promoting the US$2million tournament in 2010, the programme has benefitted hugely from a percentage of the substantial sanction fee received by the HKGA through its partnership with the Tour.
The programme is run free of charge by the HGKA and is attended by approximately 80 local youngsters, who are coached and mentored by former Asian Tour member Brad Schadewitz.
Schadewitz oversees the juniors’ fitness training programme and accompanies them to international amateur tournaments, including the Eisenhower Trophy.
The scheme has been a resounding success, with three of the junior girls having recently been offered scholarships by universities in America.
Peter Aherne, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said: “We’d like to thank The European Tour for their help and support over the past three years. Their commitment to growing the game in Hong Kong is very much appreciated by everyone at the Hong Kong Golf Association, and we look forward to working alongside them in the years to come.”
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour, said: “The Hong Kong Golf Association does a superb job in running its Elite Junior Programme, and we are fully committed to supporting the development of the game in Hong Kong. The sanction fee the HGKA received from the Tour this year and for the past two years will assist in its efforts to produce talented young golfers, and we are already seeing the fruits of their labour.”
In addition to the Elite Junior Programme, the promotional budget also enabled The European Tour and the HKGA to run the ‘Golf in the City’ initiative, which included the junior golf clinic conducted on Wednesday afternoon by American John Daly, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez and Italian Matteo Manassero, who passed on their wealth of experience to 140 local schoolchildren.
Jointly organised by the HKGA and The European Tour and sponsored by Mega Events Fund, ‘Golf in the City’ aimed to increase awareness and interest in both the tournament and the game in general.
A series of fun golf-related games and challenges for the general public were run free of charge last week at Chater Garden, in the city’s Central District, where the Urban Golf Challenge was also held.