The organizers of the Asia Pacific Golf Summit announced yesterday that Gary Player was returning for the third straight year, this time to accept induction into the Asia Pacific Hall of Fame, which is administered by the group that runs the annual Summit. For Player this is yet ‘another distinguished honor to add to his list of international achievements.’ And, might we suggest, another opportunity to use his golfing celebrity to spruik for course design work in the Asia region.
Excuse the cynicism, but back in 2009 Gary Player was a special guest at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit, presenting a ‘major keynote address’ to delegates about the game in the region, and speaking of ‘his vision for the future of golf.’
Then last year, he returned to the Summit for what was described as a ‘special encore appearance’ and to be presented with the ‘prestigious Asia Pacific Life-Time Achievement Award for golf.’ He also delivered another keynote address in 2010 and was described by Summit managing director Mike Sebastian as ‘our VVIP guest.’
Now, in 2011 Player returns to what must be seen by his company as fertile business ground to accept yet another accolade – this time induction into the Asia Pacific Hall of Fame. As the Summit’s press release noted, ‘to mark the induction, a special acceptance interview with Player will be featured on the programme of the Asia Pacific Golf Summit where the legendary golfer will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the golf industry today.’
Those challenges are likely to include the challenges of building good golf courses, and the opportunities are likely to be the opportunity to employ Gary Player Golf Course Design to build your course.
There is no doubt that bestowing accolades on famous golfers is good for both the business of the Asia Pacific Golf Summit as well as the design business of the celebrity in question. But is it good for the business of golf in Asia?
As we’ve said previously, there is no doubt that Gary Player was a champion golfer and by all accounts is a wonderful person as well. But the questions remain, ‘what exactly has he done in Asia to warrant such honours and is it appropriate for the Asia Pacific Golf Summit to continually wheel him out year after year to receive ‘awards’ and present his ‘design vision for the Asian region?’
Not only might delegates reasonably expect a more balanced line up of experts in this area, but surely the organizers risk undermining the value and credibility of these newly established accolades, by continually giving them to the same people. Prior to Player receiving the Asia Pacific Life-Time Achievement Award for Golf and being inducted into the Asia Pacific Hall of Fame, Jack Nicklaus received the exact same tributes.
Again, no doubting the worthiness of the recipients but to present such awards under the guise of an Asian Summit aimed at educating and improving the local industry does seem a stretch. Plus lets not forget we already have a World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida, so do we even need an Asian Golf Hall of Fame if it only exists to honor foreign tournament stars who primarily won outside the region?
The reality, of course, is that these awards were created because the Summit organizers appreciate the publicity generated by attracting celebrity golfers to their event. Equally, famous golfers are grateful for the accolade and happy to appear in person to receive the applause, and talk directly – again – to delegates about their design business.
One wonders whether Gary Player or Jack Nicklaus would have accepted the Asia Pacific Life-Time Achievement Award for Golf or induction into the Asia Pacific Hall of Fame in person had it not been timed to coincide with the Annual Golf Summit?
Clearly the Asia Pacific Golf Summit has its strong points, but if it still aims to raise golf design standards across the region then delegates need to experience a broad range of architectural viewpoints and they deserve to learn about ‘proper’ golf course architects, rather than just signature design companies.
Perhaps next year will prove more fruitful in this area, although our guess is that within APGS headquarters the race is already on to come up with another honour to lure Player back for the 2012 Summit. Our suggestion, the 2012 Asia Pacific Golf Person of the Year award!