This quarter I begin with the exciting news that the R&A will invite the winner of our Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) to compete at the Open Championship beginning with the winner from Royal Wellington in October 2017 playing in the Open Championship in 2018.
The R&A had a long-standing policy of not allowing the winner of a closed event (the AAC only allows entrants from members of the APGC) to gain automatic entrance to the Open Championship. It is a very defensible position but I am only guessing that due to the status of the AAC the R&A has changed its mind. That will make it a busy time for our men’s champion as he will be invited to play at the Masters Tournament, The Open Championship as well as the Qatar Masters and probably other events as well. I wish I was young enough and good enough to be able to compete.
The AAC in Royal Wellington will more than likely have an entrant from Iraq which speaks volumes of what the APGC stands for, given the problems that have confronted that country. The Middle East is a growing region for amateur golf and I am delighted with the progress in Lebanon by introducing golf into schools of both sexes. I have mentioned it previously that I think young Muslim women are under-represented. However, thanks to Board member Raybe Abbas from Malaysia, women’s golf in Iran is beginning to take off and now with this initiative in the Lebanon, I am hoping to see greater representation at the Mitsubishi APGC Junior Championships in Hong Kong from the Middle East region. The Board member representing that area, Mohammed Al Naimi, continues to do a great job promoting golf in that region and he will help developing nations by providing practice facilities where he can.
A very important event coming up in May in China is the Queen Sirikit Cup (QSC) – the APGC International Teams stroke play event which is the proud baby of RaeVadee Suwon, Board member from Thailand. What an inspiration she has been to women’s golf in our region and I very much hope that she will remain on the Board until the 2018 QSC in her home country in Thailand, which she could host as a farewell to being the Secretary for this event.
At the end of this month, there will be a statement regarding the Women’s Amateur – Asia Pacific (WAAP). I will not pre-empt what may occur but the need for this event only continues to grow.
With that event, our championship program will be reasonably complete and we can concentrate on making our events even more attractive to member countries and ensuring that the standard of the events continues to grow. This has been greatly added to by the R&A’s contribution of allowing Nick Shan to be our permanent Tournament Director. He has taken to the role like a duck to water and his enthusiasm is catching.
Lastly, I continue to be amazed at the contribution of our Secretary KJ Lee. He is about to depart to Royal Wellington on a site visit and then will join our Vice Chairman, Kei Muratsu, and myself at the Masters Tournament where not only will we watch the tournament, but also meet with our partners in the AAC, The Masters Tournament and the R&A, to devise further strategies for ensuring the success of this great event. Fortunately for KJ, he is his own employer because if he was my employee, I would seriously question his devotion to his day-time job. As an aside, he also needs to spend more time practising his golf.