HKGC was founded in 1889 with the original course and clubhouse being located within the race course in Happy Valley. The Old Course at Fanling was built in 1911. The Old Course is the oldest 18-hole course in Greater China. It was followed in 1931 by the opening of the New Course and in 1971 by the addition of the Eden Course. All three are 18 holes, internationally acclaimed championship golf courses.
The clubhouse at Fanling opened in 1914 and is a Grade II Heritage Building. The Pavilion on the Old Course was opened in 1916 and is a Grade III Heritage Building. The Fanling Lodge was built as a residence for the former Governors of Hong Kong in 1934 and is used to this day as a residence for the Chief Executive. It is a Grade I Heritage Building.
There are 68 ancestral graves and more than 74 urns located throughout the three courses at Fanling. Some of the graves date back several hundred years to the Qing and Ming dynasties. The graves are the ancestral burial places for the five clans of indigenous villagers that still live in the communities surrounding the Club.
HKGC, the host venue of The Hong Kong Open, was voted by the professionals as the Asian Tour Tournament of the Year and the Golf Course of the Year in 2018. The dual accolade further cements HKGC’s position as one of the top tournament-grade golfing venues in Asia and an important part of Hong Kong’s golf legacy.
In 2015 HKGC was selected by an international panel of journalists and industry experts as being a ‘Platinum Golf Club of The World’ with a ranking of 71 out of the top 100 golf clubs in the world. Only four other clubs in Asia achieved a higher ranking. In 2019 the list was updated with the Club moving up to a ranking of 56 out of the top 100 clubs in the world. In 2021, the Club rose higher and is now ranked 52 in the world. This rare and treasured distinction underlines Hong Kong’s status as ‘Asia’s World City’.
In 2008 the Club was honoured to host the equestrian cross country event of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games. The course was laid out over the New and Eden Courses at Fanling. Several of the jumps have been retained for posterity’s sake.
The Club’s facilities are open to the public from 7am to 11pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays) throughout the year.
In 2019, a total of 129,559 rounds of golf were played on Fanling’s courses. 59,983 or 46.2% of the total rounds played were played by non-members.
In 2019, to mark the Club’s 130th anniversary, HKGC staged several events with a green fee of only HK$130, while those aged 16 – 21 again played for free.
In addition to being able to make tee-time bookings through a dedicated online visitor platform, visitors can also enter the Club’s ‘Ballot Days’ – an additional option for Hong Kong residents to apply for a round at Fanling.
HKGC and The Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) run a Junior Golf Development Scheme whereby 30 talented juniors have been identified and provided full access to practise and play at both Deep Water Bay and Fanling. This is in addition to HKGA squad games and amateur tournaments regularly held at the Club involving hundreds of juniors. In 2019, the HKGA ran 41 local and international tournaments for amateurs and 23 of these events were played on HKGC’s courses at Fanling and Deep Water Bay. No green fees are charged for participants in these events which represents a cost saving of over HK$10 million a year for the HKGA.
In 2013, HKGC initiated a golf development programme for the schools in Fanling and Sheung Shui, followed by an offer of golf training to underprivileged students under the InspiringHK Sports Foundation. A total of 10 schools currently send students for weekly classes conducted at the driving range and on the courses at Fanling.
In 2021, the Club launched a HK$3 million collaboration with Lok Kwan Social Service, which includes golf and environmental experiences at Fanling for 1,000 children and family members from low-income families over a 12-month period.
In 2017, an “introduction to golf” programme was offered to physical education (PE) teachers from schools in the North District. In 2019, HKGC provided the venue and golf coaches to support HKGA in conducting training for PE teachers recruited from local primary and secondary schools through the Education Bureau. 30 PE teachers from 20 schools throughout Hong Kong attended the last training conducted at HKGC. These activities remain ongoing.
The access to practice facilities and playing opportunities at HKGC has been a major factor in the recent individual and team successes of Hong Kong’s growing group of talented young golfers. The results achieved by these young players have opened the door for academic opportunities including full scholarships at universities in the USA. Recent notable achievements include the following:
In early December 2017, HKGC member Tiffany Chan achieved a first for any Hong Kong player by placing 2nd overall at the LPGA Tour’s Qualifying School in the USA to earn a full card for the 2018 season and take her place among the very best lady professionals in the world. In 2019, Tiffany, who represented Hong Kong at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, enjoyed her best season on the LPGA to date.
Tiffany has represented Hong Kong twice at the Olympics – in 2016 in Rio and in 2021 in Tokyo.
At the 2019 Hong Kong Open, four Hong Kong male golfers, including three amateurs – Alexander Yang, Leon D’Souza and Terrence Ng – made the halfway cut – a new record.
In May 2018, HKGC hosted the first Hong Kong Inter-Secondary School Golf Championship. Supported by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation and the HKGA, the inaugural event included teams from 20 local and international schools throughout Hong Kong. The second edition of the event was staged in May 2019, once again over the Old Course.
Major International Events
The first Hong Kong Open (HKO) was played in 1959. HKGC and Augusta National Golf Club are the only two clubs in the world that have hosted the same professional tournament for more than 60 years. The HKO celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2018 and achieved a record attendance of over 49,000 spectators. The tournament was also broadcast live to over 400 million households around the world, putting Hong Kong firmly on the map of global golf. Some of the best players in the world to have ever played the game have competed in the HKO and the event has been won on 14 occasions by a major champion. The HKO is played on the world renowned Composite Course comprising selected holes on the New and Eden Courses.
At the 2017 HKO, HKGC worked with Formula-E and the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) to collaborate in the international promotion of the HKO, Formula-E Hong Kong and the International Horse Races. These three mega events happen on consecutive weeks in Hong Kong and collectively provide a unique opportunity to promote international tourism and enhance Hong Kong’s reputation as ‘Asia’s World City’.
The first ever Hong Kong Ladies Open (HKLO) was played on the Old Course at Fanling in June 2015. The event provided a platform for Hong Kong’s talented young amateurs to compete with professionals from around the world. This was the first ladies event played in Hong Kong in which the participants earned Rolex World Ranking Points. The 2016 HKLO was won by Tiffany Chan while she was an amateur player. The Rolex World Ranking Points won by Tiffany at the event ensured her qualification to represent Hong Kong at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where she was one of only three amateurs participating in the event.
The 5th HKLO was played on the Old Course in May 2019 with 123 players from 14 countries and territories participating. The event was title-sponsored by EFG Bank AG (for the third consecutive year) and tri-sanctioned by China LPGA, Taiwan LPGA and the Ladies Asian Golf Tour. HKGC’s Old Course uses turfgrasses and drainage that are designed to maintain the playability of the course in Hong Kong’s very hot and humid summer conditions and is the only golf course in Hong Kong that can host a major international event in the summer months. China’s Liu Yan claimed victory on a dramatic final day of action, while Tiffany Chan received the Leading Hong Kong Player Trophy. Approximately 5,000 spectators attended the event.
Charitable & Community Support
The Club hosts more than 200 non-member outings a year. These events include charity golf days, corporate events, golf competitions that are open to the public and golf society days. In 2019, HK$27 million was raised for charities at events hosted by the Club. Fundraising events include HKGC’s own ‘Cup of Kindness’ which in 2018 raised over HK$4 million for local charities.
At the 2015 UBS Hong Kong Open, a Charity Cup event was launched to raise funds for local charities. One of the beneficiaries was InspiringHK Sports Foundation, a charity that supports children from underprivileged backgrounds by introducing them to regular sports instruction provided by professional instructors. 25 students were selected from two schools in North District and all receive 3 hours of professional instruction per week provided by HKGC professionals at the Club’s facilities. The event has continued to benefit local charities following the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 HKOs.
In December 2019, organized by ISA Hong Kong Chapter, the Club hosted the first Tree Climbing Championship cum Arbor Fun Day on the Old Course. The event was open to the public and attracted more than 2,000 Hong Kong citizens participating on the day.
40 members from the Starian, an academic society set up by various universities in Hong Kong and China and majoring in historical studies, visited the Club in early January 2019 for a trees, graves and heritage tour.
In late January 2019, Caritas Hong Kong celebrated their 65th Anniversary and held a charity walkathon event at the Club. They succeeded in breaking the Guinness World Record for the most participants in a three-legged race. More than 2,000 people participated on the day.
HKGC has over 400 full-time staff in addition to 300 caddies. Most of these come from the surrounding communities in the northern New Territories. Many families have been working at HKGC for 3 or 4 generations.
HKGC’s Old Course is the venue of an annual charity fundraising walk organized by the North District Hospital Charitable Foundation to raise funds for the North District Hospital. The last event raised over HK$3 million for the Foundation.
In July 2022, and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong SAR, the Club held The Hong Kong Golf Club Open Day, which saw over 5,000 members of the public visit the Old Course to participate in a wide range of activities – including tree climbing games, mini-golf and woodball and nature tours of trees of conservation value and the Club’s butterfly garden.
Support Diversified Sport Development
Since 1979 the Old Course has been the venue of the Hong Kong Schools Cross Country Championship. More than 3,500 runners from 154 schools and the local running clubs participated in the 2019 event. In December 2017, the Club also hosted the Asian Schools Cross Country Championship, with over 165 boys and girls from 9 Asian nations participating in the event, run by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation.
In December 2019, the Club hosted the Inter-school Cross Country Competition, the Hong Kong Jing Ying Cross Country Tournament and the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association’s Cross Country Championship on the Old Course. A total of about 1,400 runners participated in the above events. These events are scheduled to take place again in 2022.
In September and October 2016, the Club hosted the Ching Ho Chinese National Day Cup, a junior 5-a-side football tournament, for over 1,500 juniors from clubs throughout Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. The event was held on the Club’s multi-purpose sports courts located on the Old Course. The Club hosted another event for over 600 local football players on 24 December 2017. The Club continued to host the Ching Ho 5-a-side football tournament in December 2018 and December 2019 with 350 juniors participating.
The Club hosted the 2021 HKGC Futsal Competition, a junior event featuring 200 children from teams based across Hong Kong. The event was held in May 2022.
The Club’s Multi-Purpose Sports Court hosts training for the Hong Kong Football Association’s Futsal League and the Ching Ho Football Club’s training multiple times per week.
In January 2019, the Old Course was the venue for the 3rd HKGC-sponsored Ultra-Marathon. The event was attended by 1,200 participants and raised funds for the Hong Kong Single Parents Association. Besides a 24-hour race, there were also races for schools, corporations as well as a families and a pets’ race.
Old & Valuable Trees (OVTs)
The Fanling property, with 44.3% of the site covered by trees, is estimated to have a minimum of 409 potential OVTs (minimum DBH of 1,000mm or above). If registered as OVTs, the Fanling property would be home to 46% of the total number of OVTs in Hong Kong which would be the greatest concentration of OVTs per hectare in Hong Kong. The 409 potential OVTs include 114 that are rare and protected species, and others which would qualify as OVTs based on their age, height and their DBH.
The Old Course is home to particularly rare trees, including a wild stand of 38 Chinese Swamp Cypress trees, a species that is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). IUCN estimates there are fewer than 250 of these trees left in the world. The presence of these trees is considered by ecologists as one of the major botanical discoveries in Hong Kong in recent times.
In 2020, HKGC was successfully certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, one of only 13 golf courses in Asia to hold this designation. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, which is endorsed by the United States Golf Association, enables golf facilities to protect the environment by enhancing precious natural areas and wildlife habitats. In achieving Audubon certification, the Hong Kong Golf Club has demonstrated that it is maintaining the highest degree of environment quality in many areas, including: Environmental Planning; Wildlife and Habitat Management; Outreach and Education; Chemical Use Reduction and Safety; Water Conservation and Water Quality Management.
In 2020, 2021 and 2022, HKGC was nominated by the World Golf Awards as the “World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility”.
HKGC was a finalist in the 2021 Golf Environmental Awards.
The golf courses at Fanling are maintained to world class standards without taking a drop of water from Hong Kong’s potable water or ground water supplies. Since 1985 HKGC has pumped partially treated sewerage effluent to the Club along a 3km pipeline built and maintained by HKGC from the Drainage Services Department’s Shek Wu Hui Sewerage Treatment Works. The water, which would otherwise have been discarded into the Shenzhen River, receives a final treatment before it is used to irrigate the golf courses at Fanling.
The Fanling property is also home to a huge variety of birds, insects, reptiles and other wildlife including a resident colony of Common Birdwing butterflies – Hong Kong’s only protected insect species – and the globally endangered Reeve’s terrapin. Other rare and endangered species recorded during the faunal surveys conducted at HKGC include:
• Brown Fish Owl
• Reeve’s Terrapin
• Somanniathelphusa zanklon (a fresh water crab that is endemic to Hong Kong)
• Masked Palm Civet
• Small Indian Civet
• Common Rose Butterfly
• Red Muntjac Deer
• Chinese Water Snake
• Leopard Cat
Properly supervised and professionally guided nature trail tours are conducted at HKGC for communities from all over the city to educate people about the diversity and environmental importance of Hong Kong’s indigenous flora and fauna. These include universities, schools and interest groups.