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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We’re Not in Iowa Anymore! Part 1



Here is another guest post from Damian Richardson who is working at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Damian's note is below:



When I did my interview with the Hong Kong Golf Club for my internship, I asked what would be some of the biggest differences I will encounter as I make such a cultural transition. Their reply, “Things will look very different.” Not only do things look different, everything seems to work different. Light switches and door locks are backwards compared to the States, I always hit my head on low hanging items in stores, and they drive on the opposite side of the road here!

As I began work, and started networking and meeting other professionals in the turf business, I have realized there are big differences in the way golf operates and is viewed out here. Here are a few statistics to look at in regards to the sport of golf here in Hong Kong as compared to Iowa:

Area:
Iowa = 56,272 sq miles
Hong Kong = 426 sq miles

Population:
Iowa = 3,007,856
Hong Kong = 7,055,071

Population Density:
Iowa = 53.5/sq mile
Hong Kong = 15,737.9/sq mile

Golf Courses:
Iowa = 441
Hong Kong = 5

People : # of golf courses:
Iowa = 6820 : 1
Hong Kong = 1,411,014.2 : 1

# Courses : Land (sq miles) Ratio
Iowa = 1:127
Hong Kong = 1:85

(sources)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa
http://www.golflink.com/golf-courses/state.aspx?state=IA

Being a member of a golf club is very exclusive here with one club having a membership as low as ~300 people. The Hong Kong Golf Club has a membership of 2,400 people, with a 25-year waiting list for membership. There is only one public course in Hong Kong and all others are reserved only for members and guests.

That being said, it is very uncommon for local people to have any understanding of the game of golf, and that has been a challenge when training workers to set up a golf course. With many of the workers having no understanding of the game of golf, they didn’t know why tee markers should point down the fairways and not in to the woods, or why a flagstick should be straight up and down.

While I have been here, I have gotten to meet our various chemical, fertilizer, and equipment salesmen and have learned the differences of ordering and purchasing in HK as opposed to the US. When we order chemical, fertilizer, or equipment, the waiting period maybe be anywhere from one month to six months and sometimes even longer.

It gets very expensive to just ship two pallets of fertilizer on a plane from the States, so the salesmen must make sure they have enough product to fill a container, put the container on a ship, wait for it to arrive, wait for it to be inspected and pass through customs, and then finally delivered to the purchaser. Government politics may also slow things down as well.

We purchase all our sand from China, which is then put on a compartment in a barge, floated down to HK, unloaded, and shipped by trucks to our course. We are lucky enough to have many areas to store sand on the property so we are able to take an entire compartment of a barge (800 metric tons.) The other courses in Hong Kong usually have to share a compartment when purchasing sand, as you cannot buy less than 800 metric tons at one time.

To continue to keep articles brief here on iaTURF, I will be posting another article soon about some more cultural differences on the golf course at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Damian Richardson

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