Fanling Golf Course [1911- ]

Submitted by David on Sun, 10/24/2010 - 11:52
Current condition
In use
Date completed

Notes from the Hong Kong Golf Club website:

Between 1906 and 1910 E.R. Halifax was the District Officer North at Taipo and he used to shoot and walk over Fanling. With his foresight and a few others, protracted negotiations took place with the Government and local farmers to secure sufficient land to build a full 18 holes. This was in 1911.
The Club then gradually moved from strength to stength. The Old Course was laid by the end of 1911 and additional land was acquired in the late 1920's for the New Course which was opened for play in November 1931. ((Should be 'November 1930' - see comments below.))

Photos that show this Place


Submitted by
Michael Mabbs (not verified)
Wed, 11/24/2010 - 20:43

Having defeated the British in December 1941, the Japanese army used the golf club buildings until their own surrender in August 1945. The buildings (and the course) seem then to have lain derelict until 1949 when 1st Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers arrived from Malaya and based a platoon in the spartan Fanling G C outbuildings (but at least there was a roof and windows which was a serious step up from living in tents). We built an airstrip on the 9th fairway to service the very light 2-seater spotter aircraft of the Royal Artillery who were to patrol the nearby Chinese frontier. This was not as drastic an operation as it might sound : we bulldozed out a few bumps and then laid a flat heavy steel open-mesh through which the grass continued to grow (it was not playable of course).  Within weeks we moved on (tents again) to Laffan's Plain and built the jeep track to the summit of Robin's Nest., carefully siting it behind an old Chinese cemetery so as not to interrupt the magnificent panoramic view enjoyed by the departed.

There's an interesting anecdote in Pete Moss's "No Babylon" about a pig being found on one of the greens at Fanling during the time of some of the skirmishes at the border.

It turns out the pig had been on a south bound KCR train (headed to an abattoir?) shot by a stray Chinese bullet and the Chinese delivery crew threw the dead pig off the train so as to get rid of any potentially incriminating evidence proving the Chinese had been shooting into HK. By sheer coincidence they had been passing Fanling Golf Course at the time and the pig had landed on the green.

Micahel, thanks for that piece of history. The Golf Club website doesn't say much about that time...

The end of the War saw the Club virtually bankrupt with the courses at Fanling and Deep Water Bay in very poor condition. However, things moved ahead with strong support from members and local companies, to the extent that a third course, the Eden, was added in 1970.

... so it's good to fill in some detail.

And I wonder if the rule book has any guidance on correct protocol when the path to the hole is blocked by a dead pig?!

In his 1934 book "The Spirit of St Andrews" Dr Alister Mackenzie tells the story of the designer of Fanling. Mackenzie was in the main room at St Andrews in 1923 discussing various courses with friends. An old man was in his usual seat by the fire. Known as the Stout King he rarely spoke, but after his 14th bottle of stout interposed that he knew the best course in the world - Fanling. Asked who had designed it he replied that he had and no further word could be got out of him. I wonder who the Stout King actually was. Mackenzie tells the story to illustrate the danger of getting a course designer to nominate the best courses in the world - he will pick his own, but Mackenzie picks St Andrews Old course.

The new course at Fanling was opened on 2 November 1930 and the first match played on it was between Governor Peel and Rear-Admiral Hill. The Governor won by a hole. Hong Kong Daily Press 3 November 1930 refers.