Asia’s Golf Boom

Projected golf developments in several Asian countries are presented. One sign of the impending Asian golf boom was the number of participants and visitors at the Golf Asia conference held in Singapore. The predicted golf boom may last from 5 to 10 years and will be limited by environmental issues.

Golf Courses are Springing up as Destinations

Singapore has 21 golf courses and driving ranges. Malaysia has 91 existing golf courses. The Malaysian government intends to build 160 courses. In Thailand, more than 58 golf courses are planned over the next three to four years, which will double the number of facilities. Indonesia has 67 new golf course developments. In Japan, 95.2 million golfers visit some 1,818 golf courses. The number of golfers and the anticipated growth is as follows:

Golf is spreading in China as fast as the population is growing. There are plans to build 22 courses, more than triple the existing number. Investments made by foreigners in the golf industry exceed $500 million.

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According to the China Golf Association, China now has nine-and-a-half golf courses (a nine-hole course in Peking accounts for the half). Only one of these is Chinese-owned. America, by comparison, has 15,000 golf courses. Of the courses planned, most are in the south, either in Fujian province (to cater to Taiwanese investors) or in Guangdong province.

Hong Kong has no public golf courses, but four private ones. Compared to Southeast Asian designations, greens fees in Hong Kong are expensive, ranging from $33 to $100. Depending on the quality of the golf facilities, Singapore’s greens fees for visitors range from $30 for the weekday to $80 for the weekends. Compared to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, golfing in Singapore is about 30 percent cheaper. Golf in Malaysia has had favorable publicity due in part to the reasonable greens fees.

Of the 13 new golf projects, eight are in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, two in Negri Sembilan and one in Langkawi. Inbound golf business has spawned golf tour organizers throughout Southeast Asia. About 300 golfers arrive in Thailand through tour groups.

The turnout of exhibitors and golfers alike at the Golf Asia conference held in Singapore testifies to this rapidly expanding golf market. The conference attracted 15,925 trade and professional visitors, including golf companies, golf course architects and designers and golf clubs, plus 15,000 members of the golfing public. Golf Course News is launching an adjunct publication called Golf Asia. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America will hold its first meeting in Singapore concurrent with the Golf Asia conference.

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Incorporating a golf course in a master-planned community not only enhances the property image and values, but I also accelerate the absorption pace of real estate. Pension funds and private investors should explore investing in listed shares of Asian companies involved in the development and management of golf courses and master-planned projects. Investment pools have been formed to joint venture and acquire golf developments, especially in high-growth markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China.

The golf boom in Asia has spurred new business opportunities for American companies, including golf course designers, instructors, golf course equipment and cart suppliers, superintendents, hotel/resort operators and club managers. Growth will not continue unabated. This window of opportunity may be open for at least another 5 to 10 years. Issues such as environment, encroachment on national forest reserves and displacement of farmers will eventually impede that pace of growth in the region.

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These Boots Were Made For Riding: Shift Kicker Street Shoe

Golfing Around Taipei

About six years ago, I witnessed a dude fly out of his shoes after going down on his bike at about 45 mph. The craziest part was that his Chuck Taylors flew off at the point of impact while the poor guy rolled down the road like a rag doll. Why his shoes flew off probably has to do with the laws of physics or gravity or something to that degree (I’m not a scientist), but nevertheless, he wasn’t outfitted with proper footwear for riding. And because of that horrific image now implanted in my brain for the rest of my days, it taught me a very prolific life lesson: always wear protective footwear when riding.

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Always Wear Protective Footwear when Riding

The Kicker Street Shoes from Shift Racing ($129.95) are made from genuine leather/synthetic leather and aren’t your run-of-the-mill lace-up/slip-on boots. The Kickers feature a simplistic, sporty look (picture Michael Jordan-era basketball high-tops) with the lightweight comfort that works well for the long nights of cruising the streets on foot after the long days of carving the canyons on your bike.

After tying the double knot on the speed-lace system, and fastening the alloy buckle closed at the ankle, I knew that if I were to fly off my bike, the Kickers would stay where they were supposed to … on my feet. But after a long day riding and since my wife has a strict “no shoes on in the house” policy, they’re easy to get off, too.

Here at HOT BIKE’s in-house shop, the garage floor sometimes turns into a slippery mess because of oil, etc., but with the Kicker’s non-slip bonded soles there’s plenty of traction when backing up a heavy bike. Other boots I’ve used when backing a heavy bagger out the garage door have posed a risk of me losing my footing and worse off, almost dropping the bike because of the slippery surface. So far Shift’s soles do what they claim. Also, the soles stay firmly planted on my bike’s footpegs. There are no rubber inserts on the raw metal pegs and my old boots gradually slide around due to vibration.

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A Litte Time to Break in

The one little complaint if you could even call it that is that it takes a little time for the Kickers to break in. The upper part of the boots sort of dig into the lower shin area when the alloy buckle is tightened, and if you loosen it (it’s adjustable), you don’t feel as secure as when it’s properly snugged. It’s not too big of a deal, and once you get past that point, you’ll be a satisfied customer. Now that the testers are broken in, I spot them almost every day.

As of now, the Kicker’s only come in sizes 7-14 with no half sizes available. They’re available in all black (shown) or black and white with a funky pattern, kind of like you’d see from Shepard Fairey (OBEY), and at less than $150, you can put a reasonable price tag on safety.

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After almost a century-and-a-half manufacturing boots for Australian farmers and factory workers, Blundstone has expanded its range to embrace a line of children’s boots called Blunnies.

At Christmas, Blundstone launched a child-size replica of the company’s best-selling No. 500 style that has garnered a global cult following. Initially delivered in brown and black (in children’s size 7 to youth size 1), the boot is a side-gored Jodhpur with waterproof leather and a dual-density polyurethane sole.

According to marketing manager Barry Smith, over the years Blundstone has been approached by “lines of people” wanting to turn the brand into a concept or wanting to do licensed clothing. Smith said the company acquiesced and decided to do a children’s line only after intense lobbying from retailers and overseas distributors.

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Blunnies

“The brand values that underpin our success in the foreign markets we believe are all to do with authenticity, but mainly the fact that the product is genuine,” said Smith. “It’s not a contrived product. It’s not the name of a tractor put on a boot made in a factory in China.”

Based on the tiny Australian island of Tasmania, Blundstone is not only Australia’s largest producer of heavy-duty work and safety footwear, but it’s also the country’s oldest family-owned shoe manufacturer.

The company started exporting in 1969 and is comprised of two factories and a tannery. Save for a small factory in Auckland, which manufactures for the New Zealand market; Blundstone continues to make all of its product onshore.

The company manufactures more than one million pairs of boots per year in 80 different styles.

Fifty percent of the company’s AU$50 million turnovers is derived from safety-footwear sales, with 35 percent from farming footwear and the remaining 15 percent of exports to 22 different countries. Retail fashion accounts for 60 percent of all the company’s exports.

Blundstone’s evolution into a fashion brand came first by word-of-mouth — the natural extension of oyoung Australians traveling around Europe and the United States wearing Blundstones. Australian surfers, in particular, are credited with pushing the brand on the West Coast of the United States.

During a four-year period, Blundstone produced almost 20 different short-run fashion variations on the Blundstone theme, including a No. 500 in white leather, as well as blue-suede and high-leg versions in various leathers.

“[The fashion boots] weren’t particularly successful,” Smith said. “In our opinion, [they] cut across the brand’s values, and although the leading edge of fashion was very important for the hype and publicity, it’s not where the sales were.”

Tony Stacey, CEO for the past 27 years, said, “The important thing was establishing the brand as a brand — a genuine brand, a classical brand.

“People had been coming to Australia for years and were aware of our product,” she continued. “But it was the sort of interest that was generated at this time — where workwear became high street fashion — that started to establish the brand. We’ve built on that a lot since then, but that was virtually the start of it.”

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Picking up the Fashion Gauntlet Once Again

The company is now picking up the fashion/leisure gauntlet once again.

Last year, a product-development manager was appointed to oversee the launch of a series of new product. Blunnies was the first to roll out, along with a range of safety footwear for working women, a line of sandals and hiking footwear.

“Our expertise is making footwear, ” said Stacey. “We do a line of Blundstone socks, Blundstone belt, and Blundstone shoe-care products, and we may well extend that in the future. But it’s important that whatever we do carry the sort of character of the brand and the character of Blundstones.”

Blunnies have been selling well, according to Ian Scandrett of Sydney’s Hylands Shoe City, a 1,000-square-mile shoe emporium, specializing in comfort and safety footwear; that is the largest single retailer of Blundstones in Australia.
Blundstones account for 35 percent to 40 percent of the business in Scandrett’s industrial-footwear department and 10 percent of his overall sales volume, which amounted to 50,000 units

“Blundstone’s an icon,” said Scandrett. “It’s reached that status now — there’s no doubt about it. It’s certainly up there with RM Williams and Vegemite.”

Scandrett said that no matter which way Blundstone chooses to go, the company would do well to heed the experience of another workboot brand which made the fashion crossover: Dr. Martens, whose local distributor unsuccessfully attempted to take the brand from niche retailers into the mainstream overnight.

“[Dr. Martens] opened up into [the] Myer/Grace Bros. [department-store chain] and [the] Big W [discount department-store chain], and the company immediately, within a season, had devastating results,” said Scandrett. “People just didn’t know where to buy the original Docs. You could buy these locally made ones for $79, with the English ones sold for $145. So they destroyed the brand by fiddling with it.”

Blundstone, on the other hand, has been more cautious, according to Scandrett. “[The company doesn’t] jump quickly. If anything, they’re probably overly cautious. I think they’ll be [around] for a very long time.”

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When considering the range of outstanding golfing getaways in Asia, Taipei may not spring instantly to mind. However, boasting 25 courses within a one-hour drive of the city centre, Taiwan is an attractive and viable destination.

With a flexible schedule and visiting at specific times, you’ll be rewarded–and surprised–at the array of golfing facilities offered, many representing good value for money.

Although the majority of the clubs are purported to be “members-only”, most happily welcome visitors–particularly on designated “golf days“, which tend to be Monday and Tuesday when green fees are reduced by up to 30%. Special rates are also available at some clubs if you tee-off early, while discounts can be negotiated if you’re part of a group or society.

Most Taipei hotels will be able to assist you, not only in booking tee-times but also in arranging transport.

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TA SHEE RESORT

Where is it? Set amid rolling hills and surrounded by scenic spots in Tao Yuan Province, Ta Shee Resort is about 35km south of Taipei and a 50-minute drive from Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) International Airport.

What’s it like? The 27-hole Ta Shee opened in 1994 and had since then established itself as the best-known golf resort in the country. Set in an 102-ha area, the facility was the idea of a Taiwanese designer, then later renovated by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Since hosting one leg of the Johnnie Walker Super Tour in 1997 and 1998, it has staged other high-profile tournaments, including the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic, which saw Tiger Woods being beaten by New Zealander Michael Campbell, and the inaugural BMW Asian Open in 2001.

Facilities: Three nine-hole courses named East, Centre, and West. The championship course comprises the East and Centre, measuring 7,150 yards from the back tees and playing to a par of 72. The West Course is lit for night play. The driving range is open daily from 0630 to 2200.

After the golf: The Club boasts a 208-room resort with all the facilities. Try Champions Punch, a blend of punch and local rice wine.

MIRAMAR GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

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Where is it? A 20-minute drive from CKS International Airport or about 40 minutes from downtown Taipei.
What’s it like? With two 18-hole courses sculpted by Jack Nicklaus, Miramar is a definite favourite of many local golfers. It appeals because unlike the majority of undulating, physically punishing courses close to the capital; its layouts are relatively flat. However, keeping with his course design philosophy, there are all the usual trademarks of the Golden Bear, namely deep bunkers and large water hazards.

Facilities: Two 18-hole courses, both measuring slightly less than 6,000 yards from the white tees, a driving range and two practice greens. Locker rooms have a sauna.

After the golf: Attached to the clubhouse is a 100-room hotel featuring various dining outlets, function rooms, a reading room as well as rooms for billiards, bridge, and chess. Stay and play packages are available such as a TWD5,500 (US$158) rate for an overnight twin share stay, including green fees (with caddie or cart) for two, breakfast and local transport.

SUNRISE GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

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Where is it? South of CKS International Airport, but conveniently located near the main freeway out of Taipei or about a 45-minute drive from the city.

What’s it like? The first foray of designer Robert Trent Jones Jr into Taiwan, Sunrise is a stunning mountaintop course with numerous dramatic elevation changes–the result of a vast earthmoving exercise that saw the terraced hillside at Yang Met transformed into fairways, greens, and tees. Six major lakes are a feature, ensuring the availability of a myriad of strategic alternatives with every hole. With a high slope rating, tight fairways, and windy conditions, it is, in the view of many, the toughest golfing test in the country. Sunrise hosted the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Cup Qualifying Tournament in 1993 as well as the Taiwan Open on several recent occasions.

Facilities: One 18-hole course, playing to a par of 72 and measuring 7,091 yards from the championship tees. Also a driving range and putting green.

After the golf: A resort-style complex, Sunrise encompasses four main areas: the sprawling clubhouse, recreational facilities, golf practice areas and the course itself. Both the clubhouse and locker rooms are among the largest in the world. Opulence abounds–massive marble columns greet you as you enter the main building that boasts panoramic views of the course. Incorporated within the clubhouse is an 83-room hotel. There are also 114 residential units and a condominium.

TAIWAN GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

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Where is it? About an hour’s drive north of CKS International Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Tamsui.
What’s it like? Widely regarded as the Home of Golf in Taiwan, Old Tamsui, as the club is known, has been the breeding ground for many of the country’s top professionals. With so many caddies having learned their trade here, the club is also affectionately referred to as the “cradle of the golfers.” First constructed in 1914 with only three holes, the opening nine were ready by 1919. A decade later, Japanese designer Akahoshi Shire completed the 18-hole layout. To this day, the club retains a splendid air of tradition, featuring mature, tree-lined fairways and postage-stamp-size greens. The club also maintains an experienced all-male caddy force, among the most skilled in the region.

Facilities: One 18-hole, par-72 course, measuring 7,015 yards from the championship tees. There is also a driving range and putting green.

After the golf: An understated old-style clubhouse with all the essential elements.

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Besides the best shoes for your foot pain, such as the best shoes for plantar fasciitis, orthotics and arch supports are inserts designed to support the middle section of the foot or mid-foot arch. This area of the foot is where most people experience pain and discomfort due to lack of support. Orthotics will help correct two of the major foot problems: pronation and supination. Pronation occurs when the foot turns inward excessively and then strikes the ground unevenly. Pronation can lead to flat feet, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, as well as hip, knee and back pain.
Supination occurs when the foot turns outward excessively and can lead to ankle sprains, ligament strains, and tendonitis.

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Would you know what to do if your hunting partner had a serious injury and was losing blood fast?

A bleeding wound is deemed “serious” if the rate and level of blood loss are potentially life-threatening. This type of wound could be the result of a gunshot, animal attack, or motor-vehicle accident. The wound itself could be a deep laceration or cash, an impalement, or the partial or full severing of a limb or appendage. These are ghastly things to see or experience, but they happen. Since a person with a punctured or severed artery can bleed to death in as little as three minutes, it’s important to know the right way to respond, and to proceed quickly.

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Think you don’t have to be prepared to survive just because you’re hunting with a guide? That can be a dangerous assumption. When the wind picked up late in the day and snow began falling heavily in Montana’s Gallatin Mountains, my friend Chris wasn’t worried. Not at first, anyway. His hunting guide said, “We’d better head back to camp. This storm could get hairy.”

An hour later the snow was blowing sideways and visibility was dose to nil. Chris countered his growing nervousness with a reassuring thought: He’s the guide, he knows the country. He knows the way back.

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If you don’t recognize heat-related illnesses before they sneak up on you, they could ruin your hunt
One of the common myths about heat-related dangers is that they are a concern only in extremely hot weather. Not true. Heat-caused illness, including fatal heat stroke, can occur in ambient air temperatures as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Another mistaken notion is that heat exhaustion and stroke afflict mainly the elderly and the infirm and those in poor physical condition. Also not true. Heat exhaustion and exertional heatstroke (EHS) can overwhelm anyone, including Olympic athletes in peak condition.

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The nurses in a nursing home very busy. Even they have the best shoes for nurses, their pressure may not reduce. The subject of nursing homes is one most people would just as soon avoid. Yet most adults are likely to be involved in the selection of a nursing home or the best nurses at some time, either for themselves or for an ill or aging relative. Statistically, up to 40 percent of those aged 65 and older will enter a nursing home at least once.

Admittedly, there are reasons for the poor reputation of nursing homes. Studies suggest that a third fail chronically to meet health and safety regulations. But there are also good nursing homes, homes that Dr. Vivian Tellis-Nayak, a sociologist at Chicago’s St. Xavier College who has studied “exemplary” nursing homes, says care for the elderly “with love, dignity, and professionalism.” The task is to find them.

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What is the most common type of outdoor injury, aside from minor skin wounds? According to the people who quantify such things, damage to the “musculoskeletal system” accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the injuries suffered in wilderness settings. Translated into ordinary language, this means strains, strains, bone fractures, and joint dislocations. Most of us have experienced some or all of these maladies firsthand–or first wrist, foot, knee, elbow, etc. These “extremity” (arm or leg) injuries are not only painful, they often raise some worrisome questions. What’s actually happened here? Is this just a strain or bruise that will pass, or did I rupture something? Is it a bad sprain, or is it broken?

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