To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh Has Balls

The recent flying visit of Spurs into HK albeit as a preseason promo, made me wonder what other sports might draw spending hordes here. For example would you come to play or watch Golf here ? Probably not if you lived in Ireland ... but then again.....Portugal is popular with Irish Golfers... so why not... I mean professionalplayers are coming for the UBS Hong Kong Open 12 Nov - 15 Nov 2009 to play for a purse of US$2,500,000.

Personally I don't play Golf although I did once lived opposite an 18th Hole - we suffered the odd broken window as a result of over enthusiastic and misjudged drives onto the green.... and I had a friend who went for a round whilst on holiday in Thailand. When she returned from the golf course she discovered that her beach hotel had been tsunami'd and swept out to sea - just as well she didn't go swimming that day!!.

OK is there a compelling reason for coming to HK for a Golf (other than the purse or as an excuse to visit the old man) and is it a feasible proposition for the average player?.

Now if you were to believe the HK Tourist board the answers to both questions would be yes. There are lots of Driving Ranges; Golf Courses and Societies in HK. HK Culture & Leisure lists public facilities and additionally many estates including my own have rooftop putting facilities (we even apparentl have andoor golf simulator) . Golf is very popular here and many locals go to China to play because its cheaper and easier. (Overseas visitors will need a Mainland China Visa to vist the Mission Hills Course in Shenzhen)

If you were coming from say, Cork, as an individual player it would propably be difficult to justify. Although green fees etc are competative they wouldn't offset travel costs etc and since many club/courses etc are private you might find it difficult to get a game (recommended that you bring your club handicap card etc).

However if you came with a group probably a different story...

The trick would be to get a party together and get your local Golf Club or Society to write to clubs and societies here in Hong kong explaining the group would like to visit and was there a possibility for a reciprical competition and/or group visitor rates etc. Reciprocity is key - The carrot to HK club members may be the chance of coming to Europe and playing competatively against a local club. More importantly it opens up the opportunity to solicit (even in these credit stapped times) sponsorship to cover costs.

So envisage this: You live in Cork and were a member or have friends who are members of

Technically it would be better if societies and clubs were registered with the Golfing Union of Ireland

You get the club/society secretary to email/write (classier) to societies and clubs listed in Hong Kong Golf Association site, and when you receive a favorable response you invite sponsers (eg local hotels, golf equipment suppliers, car companies etc ) inticing them with the prospect of selling products/services to wealthy Chinese players on the return match back home in Cork. Think of it as a kind city of twinning at golf club level which may open up all sorts of commercial/job possibilities (in these times is not a bad idea) and your club/Society obviously gets the opportunity to provide members with something slightly more exotic than a trip to Birr.(Not that there is anything wrong with Birr other than the chinese takeaway simply can't compete with HK)

You organise group fare to HK (Emirates/Qatar airlines do deals I understand) and group hotel booking etc to drive cost down. There are even specialist agencies who can help you organise golfing holidays and HK Golf Association may make suggestions.

So whilst the golfers indulge themselves on the course and in the bar (before/afterwards) and their spouses go shopping (Tax free in HK) sight seeking etc .. there might even be time to visit the old man ...

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