The 2014 Asia Pacific Golf Summit ended in Singapore over the weekend on a high note with members of the golf industry given the event the thumbs up for setting the tone and providing a positive outlook for the future of golf in Asia.
Staged over November 14-15 at the iconic world-class Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, APGS 2014 broke away from the doom and gloom mood that hovers over the global golf industry and instead explored solutions to the problems faced by the industry in general.
In his opening address, Mike Sebastian, chief executive officer of Asia Pacific Golf Group, the owner and producer of APGS 2014 called on the golf industry in Asia to become more self-reliant and to strive to seek out innovative ways to help grow the game of golf. “Let us take charge of our own destinies and let us not fall into the same traps that have resulted in the decline of golf in the Western hemisphere – we have a youthful population in Asia and we should seek out ingenuous ways to attract and engage with the youth of Asia to play the exciting game of golf.”
His call for innovation and Asian leadership to grow the golf initiative in Asia was picked up by Tenniel Chu, vice-chairman of the giant Mission Hills Group who delivered the keynote address. In reference to adapting the game of golf to modern market demands, he said, “If you are flexible, if you think left-field and accept the world is a different place now compared to when you were young, then golf does not have to be hushed voices, rigid clothing regulations and clubhouse exclusivity. No. Golf can be invigorating, challenging, innovative, entertaining and – above all – a lot of fun.”
Chu was especially bullish of China leading the thrust to grow the game and keep it healthy in Asia. He said, “China’s booming middle class – with its desire to travel, spend and enjoy new-found leisure time – is the key factor.” There are now 300 million middle class Chinese and by 2020 this will be 600 million, a 40 per cent of the population will be middle class.
“These astonishing growth figures are fantastic news for the golf industry, since the expanding middle class is taking to golf in rapidly increasing numbers, both as a leisure pursuit and as a sign of status. Given such statistics, it is no surprise to learn that China has the world’s fastest growing golfing population – three million and counting,” Chu added emphatically.
Combined with the growth of Southeast Asia and India, which collectively account for a population base of more than 1.7 billion and a rapidly growing middle class, the stage is set for the growth of golf in Asia.
More than 20 world class speakers addressed over 200 delegates over the two-day event. The highlight of APGS 2014 was the induction of the following luminaries into the Asia Pacific Golf Hall Of Fame: Mr Murdaya Widyawimarta; Tun Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid; and Mr Thongchai Jaidee
Top awards also went to Vietnam’s Mr. Le Van Kiem who was honoured with the Asia Pacific Philanthropist Award and the Asia Pacific Golf Personality of The Year Award. Madame Nguyen Thi Nga was bestowed the title of the Asia Pacific Golf Woman Entrepreneur of The Year Award.
Reaction from delegates to APGS 2014 were extremely complimentary. “I would like to thank you and your team for organizing a very successful APGS 2014 in Singapore. We enjoy the conference every year and the content of the programme. The message was very clear from the event and we have a responsibility to be one of the region’s change drivers with innovation, creativity and fun for our customers and future customers,” said Stacey Walton, General Manager of the award-winning Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.
One of the stalwarts of Asian golf Jim Prusa, Director of Sky 72 Golf Resort in Seoul, South Korea said, “You and your team were awesome! The new award categories were awesome and will build solid relations. Keep up the great work.”
Perhaps the one comment that serves as a wrap up of APGS 2014 came from PGA Master Coach Joe Thiel who remarked, “Many congratulations again for the successful staging of the 2014 Asia Pacific Golf Summit. As I have said, what you are doing for Asian Golf would forever be remembered and the way we stay united to bring Asian Golf to the World is truly remarkable.”
All speeches, presentations and photographs of APGS 2014 will be progressively loaded up to its web-site at http://www.golfconference.org/