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BWM Asian Open 2006

This weekend I went to the BMW Asian Open at the Tomson Golf Club in Shanghai. This event, part of the Asian tour, has been organized in Shanghai for the past 3 years at this golf club, and it is attracting quite a crowd.

Yesterday was the last day, and Jim and I decided to get there early to walk with some of the lower placed players. Jim’s driver dropped us off at the entrance, saving us a 15 minute walk from the parking lot. We watched two players tee off at the 10th, and then went over to the 15th hole, where fellow-Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen was playing. We followed him for 3 holes, with a small group of other people.

It’s amazing how good these guys are. It seems none of their shots go wrong, it all seems so easy. At the 17th par 3, there is a water hazard over the full lenght of the hole, and the green is right behind it. I would always opt to go for a first shot to the fairway on the right of the lake, but these guys go directly for the green – and manage to get there with one shot as well. As Jim said:”We will never be good at this sport, because we just don’t have the guts to make such a shot”.

Tomson Golf Club is surrounded by some very nice villa’s. However, some of the (mainly Chinese) occupants overdid the decoration: fake Louis XVI interiors could be seen in several houses around the course, as well as people who managed to build a complete pagoda in their front yard. The villa’s don’t come cheap I suppose, a BMW 7, Porsche Cayenne or Mercedes S-Class seems to be the standard car for the people living here.

After a quick lunch (mediocre food, the catering was done by a Chinese fast-food chain that among others offered a noodle hot dog: a bun filled with spicy noodles – no sausage to be found!) we went on to look at Fernandez-Castano and Stenson’s tee-off at the 1st hole. They both seemed quite relaxed. After their tee-off the crowd grew too big, and we went over to hole 4 and 5, where we watched among others Colin Montgomerie. The finale of the Asian Open was great: In the final 3 holes Fernandez overtook Stenson, but Stenson took a huge risk at the 18th and managed a birdie. Then a play-off was necessary in which Fernandez saw his tee shot land in the woods. But with a superb second shot, followed by an amazing chip that landed the ball only centimeters from the hole, he managed to grab the title.

I am not a big fan of watching golf on TV. But seeing this sport live, and being able to interact with the top players (there are not many other sports where you can do that), is a different story. The atmosphere was great, although some of the audience should have stayed home: some did not turn their mobile phones off, were talking loudly with business guests they brought over, or took their little kids here that scream for attention during the silence of a tee shot. I’ll be back next year!

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  1. I did not see any protests, also did not read about it this year. But the marketing director of BMW said that he is not sure if they will organize it again at the Tomson Golf Club. Not sure if that is related though.