The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Golf Course in Hong Kong receives GEO Certified™ award

The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Golf Course in Hong Kong
The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Golf Course in Hong Kong

The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course, one of the busiest public golf courses in the world, becomes first GEO Certified™ facility in Asia-Pacific.

The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course (Kau Sai Chau), Hong Kong, has become the first golf facility in Asia-Pacific to achieve the coveted GEO Certified™ award – an internationally recognised sustainability assurance from the Golf Environment Organization.

The award, which recognizes Kau Sai Chau as one of the most sustainably managed golf clubs in the world, is a significant landmark in the transformation of the island landscape, a former military firing range that was shelled repeatedly between 1930 and 1975.

Opened in 1995 and now featuring three of the busiest public golf courses in the world, it has become a shining light of environmental innovation featuring solar-hybrid ferries for transporting golfers to and from the island, and the world’s first fleet of solar powered electric golf carts – both projects being part of a US$45 million environmental project initiated by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, in response to the pressing issues of global warming and climate change. These environmental initiatives have resulted in a restored landscape and thriving ecology at Kau Sai Chau which offers 54 holes of world-class golf, including the North and South Courses, designed by nine-time Major Champion Gary Player, and East Course, designed by golf course architects Nelson & Haworth.

Mike Carey, Head of Golf Operations at Kau Sai Chau, explained: “As a community project between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Hong Kong Government, the mission of Kau Sai Chau is to promote golf to the people of Hong Kong at affordable levels. In addition to this Kau Sai Chau has been restored into a healthy living landscape with diverse habitats through environmentally sensitive golf development.

“In addition to the practical challenges of developing island golf – rainwater capture, storage and reuse being the most significant – the vision for Kau Sai Chau was to provide the golfing public of Hong Kong with a world-class facility managed to the highest agronomic and environmental standards.

“The GEO Certified™ award recognizes the success of our efforts and, hopefully, is an inspiration for others, as the need for sustainable golf leadership in the booming Asian golf economy is more important now than ever.”

The GEO Certified™ award is the most accessible, credible and comprehensive sustainability certification in golf, benefiting the environment, communities and golf businesses. The award is earned after a golf facility works through the GEO OnCourse™ programme of practical step-by-step, on-line guidance, making improvements appropriate for their site and facility. At the end of the process, an independent, GEO-accredited Sustainable Golf Expert visits and verifies each golf course, and creates a three-year Continual Improvement Plan with targets to be achieved before re-certification three years later.

Ross Perrett, part of GEO’s global network of third party verifiers, undertook the on-site evaluation at Kau Sai Chau. (A full on-site evaluation report can be found here) He summarized his impressions by saying:

“With the vision and commitment of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it’s been possible to restore biodiverse habitats to Kau Sai Chau and a number of rare, protected and notable species are now thriving in the healthy environment.

Benjamin Warren, GEO Communications Director, said:

“It’s clear the Kau Sai Chau team is dedicated to the continued realization of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s vision for sustainable golf. In 15 years, the surface of the island has been transformed into a living landscape that now hosts a huge diversity of indigenous plant and animal life, including many rare and endangered species, with hundreds of thousands of people experiencing this richness.”

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Lee Westwood wins Golf Writers Trophy

lee westwood award winner
lee westwood award winner

While the unfortunate Tiger Woods saga fills the gossip pages, Lee Westwood has been hogging the golfing headlines. A week after winning the European Tour’s Golfer of the Year award for the third time the world number four walked away with The Golf Writers Trophy, also for a third time.

Seve Ballesteros is the only previous player to win the Golf Writers Trophy three times, so Westwood is in illustrious company and he said after collecting the award;

“I am delighted to receive the award once again. It is a particular honour to have been chosen for the third time and to become one of only two players, alongside Seve, to have won it three times. That means an awful lot to me, especially when I consider the great players we have had on the European Tour. It is Seve who stands out in my mind for his record and his charisma and to be linked with such a great champion makes the award all the more special.

I would also like to mention Catriona Matthew. She would have been worthy of the award considering what she achieved this year. To have won the Women’s British Open just weeks after giving birth to her second child was a spectacular achievement. I have no idea how she managed it”

Catriona Matthew was runner up to Westwood for the Golf Writers Trophy and was followed by the young Irishman Rory McIlroy in third place. McIlroy had further reason to celebrate with news that he has achieved the highest world ranking of any 20 year old ever when he moved up to ninth place in the list.

PGA Golf Catalunya Resort ranked among top European courses

PGA Golf Catalunya Stadium Course
PGA Golf Catalunya Stadium Course

The PGA Golf Catalunya Resort has once again been ranked amongst the Top Ten golf courses on the continent in Golf World magazine’s Top 100 European courses.

The acclaimed 36-hole resort close to Girona, Barcelona and the beautiful Costa Brava, which hosted the 2009 Spanish Open won by Thomas Levet, has consistently ranked in the magazine’s Top 10 since its opening a decade ago.

Now, with a new modernist clubhouse and the release of its first phase of exclusive residences PGA Golf Catalunya Resort is recognised as a world class golf estate in one of the most naturally beautiful and culturally distinctive regions of Spain.

While Golf World ranked the Stadium course in seventh position, the UK’s Golf Monthly magazine voted the course number three in Europe although both magazines confirm PGA Golf Catalunya as being second only to Valderrama in Spain.

Billy O’Sullivan, CEO of PGA Golf Catalunya Resort, said:

“To have maintained our position within the top 10 in Europe since opening is testament to the quality not only of the golf courses at PGA Golf Catalunya Resort, but the experience and service that visitors receive when they come to the resort.

We have invested heavily in the courses and the new clubhouse, and have the benefit of a hotel on site. To complement our new residences, which are available as plots, finished turn key villas and self-build, we also have plans to add a sports and tennis club, plus more spa facilities. PGA Golf de Catalunya is not just one of the finest golf resorts in Europe, it is a world class resort.”

The convenient proximity of the resort and its hotel to Girona-Costa Brava Airport  means that golfers from across the UK, Ireland and the Continent are less than a two-hour flight away.

Tee times, including special offers, are available to book via the PGA Golf Catalunya Resort website

Padraig Harrington – PGA Tour Player of the Year

As far as golf is concerned, 2008 belongs to one man, Padraig Harrington.

After winning two of the last five major titles, the PGA Championship and retaining the British Open, winning the European PGA Player of the Year and the Golf Writers Trophy, yesterday Harrington was voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Winning back-to-back majors was the highlight of Padraig Harrington‘s career so far, but he said winning the PGA Tour Player of the Year award was just as significant.

Padraig Harrington became only the fourth player to win the British Open and PGA Championship in the same season, and the first European player to receive the PGA Tour Player of the Year award since it began in 1990.

While Tiger Woods has been ruled out through an injury to his knee, Harrington is the only golfer who has been ready to step into his shoes.

In 2009 Harrington will face increased pressure as he will be among the favourites to win all five majors. Harrington will now realise the kind of pressure Tiger Woods is under every time he steps onto a golf course.

But is anyone seriously going to place a golf bet on Padraig Harrington to win a major title when Tiger Woods returns?

Padraig Harrington wins Golf Writer’s Trophy

This year just keeps getting better and better for Padraig Harrington. The Irish golfer has added to his growing list of silverware for 2008 by winning the Golf Writer’s Trophy for the second year in a row.

It is only the third time a golfer has won the trophy two years in succession and the first time since 1974 when Peter Oosterhuis completed the honour to follow in Tony Jacklin’s (1969-70) footsteps.

Speaking about this more than commendable achievement, Padraig Harrington said that it proves how rare it is for a golfer to hit their peak two years running. He then went on to say that 2008 has been ‘beyond anything’ that he could have hoped for.

When you consider that he has won two major titles, been named the European Tour’s golfer of the year and picked up the shot of the year award – this is hardly surprising. Now, to top it all off he has won the Golf Writer’s Trophy.

As sporting years go for individuals, it doesn’t get much better. I suppose the only thing missing for Padraig Harrington was the Ryder Cup victory. However, there is no doubt he will be part of Team Europe once again in 2010. Hopefully in as good a form as he has been during 2008!

The focus now for Padraig Harrington is next year of course and he knows that expectations are going to be ‘higher than ever’. Every tournament he enters, the golf odds are going to back him to be towards the top of the leader board and he will be under plenty of pressure to deliver.

The man himself though says that as long as he ‘stick to the same processes’ throughout 2009, then he is well in line for another fantastic year.