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Heritage

History of the Royal Perak Golf Club


Dato' Dr Sarjeet Singh Sidhu

In its not-too-brief history the Royal Perak Golf Club (RPGC) has gone through several phases and events which have shaped it into its current form; a remarkable transformation from its humble beginnings to what it is now: the undisputed premier Club in Perak.

The RPGC, once a Members' Club is now a Proprietary Club; and to distinguish between the two entities the former will hereinafter be referred to by its Bahasa Melayu acronym, KGDP, and the latter as RPGC.

 

Early History

The original old wooden clubhouse built in 1900

[This is taken entirely from "The History of Royal Perak Golf Club" by Michael Lim, published in MALAYSIAN OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP MAGAZINE 1990, and we will let Mr. Michael Lim tell his story in his own words].

It all began with the Ipoh Golf Club which was first formed before the turn of the century.  Its members played on a nine hole course on the race course.

 

By 1932, the membership has grown to such an extent that the nine hole course became inadequate, so 180 acres of secondary jungle, stretching from Tiger Lane to Gunung Rapat were acquired from the State Government for the construction of an 18 hole golf course.

One story has it that the survey was carried out from the air by the Perak Flying Club, the photographs sent back to Scotland, and the course laid out by a golf architect.  How well the course was laid can be illustrated by the fact that experts subsequently found no room for improvement when measures were taken to alter the course.

Just prior to World War II, the old wooden club house which has been standing at the race course since 1900, was dismantled, moved over to its new Tiger Lane site and rebuilt with some additions and improvements.

The turbulent war years nearly spelt the end of the Tiger Lane course.  During the Japanese Occupation, the whole course was put under cultivation, and the greens and fairways planted over with tapioca.  Immediately after the war, the club house area was used as a hard standing for heavy transport belonging to Dutch troops bound for Indonesia.

In 1946, the rehabilitation problems facing the Ipoh Golf Club committee seemed insurmountable, but they were determined men.  They sought and obtained the help of the Perak Turf Club (PTC) which, with the aid of expertise under the leadership of the then Secretary, Mr. Bunny Byers, and cash assistance of $100,000, transformed the situation.  By 1947, the golf course was again in play and a new body called the Ipoh Sports Club was formed to run the course.  Tennis course were also constructed.

Tuanku Abdul Rahman photograph at the 4th hole

At this juncture, it is pertinent to chronicle a story of historical interest. In 1976, the Committee had a most pleasant surprise when informed that "a silver cup belonging to Ipoh Golf Club" engraved "1910" was found in the rubble of a small building in the village of Long Phuoc in Phuoc Tuy, Vietnam by a US Army Colonel in 1966.  Unable to find out where Ipoh is, Col. Lewis H Goad took this monthly medal prized trophy to America, and then to New Delhi, and only after 9 long years was he finally informed that Ipoh is in Malaysia.  When this bit of new was published in the Straits Times, the curator of Muzium Negara contacted the Committee and indicated in his letter that the museum was very short of contributions for its sporting trophy collections, and requested that the "Vietnam" trophy be donated in view of its interesting historical background.  After displaying this trophy at the club house for several months, it was finally sent to its permanent home in the National Museum where it now reposes.

 

Following this story, two more silver trophies of this Club awarded in its early days were also recovered. One was the "Ipoh Golf Club Monthly Medal 1909" trophy and the other engraved "Armistice Medal". The winner of both these trophies was the late Mr. PG Short, a past president of this Club. Unfortunately, the custodian of these trophies, Mrs. Nellie Corbett, the daughter of the late Mr. PG Short, is unable to fill us on the early history of the Club.

By 1950, the expense and organization of running the 18 hole golf course and the six tennis courts proved too much for the resources of the Club and once more the PTC was approached this time to take over the full time management of the Club.

Once again, the PTC, this time under the chairmanship of Mr. JP Hannah made available its considerable resources of men and money, and the Perak Turf Club Sports Club (PTCSC) was born.

For the next 18 years, the 68 year old wooden clubhouse continued to welcome not only generations of golfers from all over the country at the annual golf championships hosted by the Club, but had staged numberless dramatic performances and social functions the like of which will probably never be seen again.

On November 10, 1968 the then President of the PTCSC, the late Almarhum DYTM Raja Muda Perak, Raja Musa Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Aziz, declared open the new $500,000 club house. This was the culmination of a farsighted and ambitious scheme by the then PTC's dedicated Chairman, Dato Yeoh Cheang Lee, to create for Ipoh a first class sports complex which included facilities for squash, billiards, a six-lane fully air conditioned bowling alley, and a spacious dining hall and kitchen.

Bowling soon proved to be a new popular sport for members. The low rates of entrance fee to join the Club, and a still existing levy of 50 cents per bowling game for members, which many consider the cheapest in the world, soon resulted in an influx of new members until the Club counted well over 1200 names in its membership register in 1973.

A new annexe to the dining room, situated on top of the bowling alley was built by PTC and officially declared open on 19 August 1973.  PTC also constructed a new kitchen adjoining the new annexe to the dining room and made improvements to the men's changing rooms.

Members had long felt the need for a swimming pool as a worthy amenity to complement the Club's existing facilities, but when the motion was put to a vote, it was surprisingly defeated at a meeting held on 16 March 1975.  Despite this setback, the incoming 1976 PTCSC Committee under Club President Tan Sri Radin Soenarno Al-Haj, secured majority support from members, and also succeeded in getting PTC to agree to contribute a dollar for every three dollars PTCSC collected. Construction work on the 30m by 16m pool commenced in early 1980. The swimming pool complex, which includes two additional squash courts, was finally completed and in use from 31 August 1981 and duly declared open on 23 September 1981.

The opening of the swimming pool complex created a new atmosphere at the Club. The number of wives and their children patronizing the Club increased tremendously, especially in and around the swimming pool complex.

A new chapter was added to the 78 year old distinguished history of the Club when PTC finally decided to lease the Club land and buildings with their contents to PTCSC for an annual nominal sum. Having now received the mandate for autonomy, an EGM was held on Thursday 23 November 1978. In his opening address, the then Club President, Tan Sri Radin Sornarno Al-Haj reiterated the PTC's decision to cease any further financial assistance to the Club from 1979.  After an unanimous 'aye' from all members present, the Royal Perak Golf Club (RPGC) was born on 1 January 1979 with the word 'Royal' incorporated in its name by Royal Charter, with the consent of DYMM Sultan Perak, the Patron of the Club.

In the succeeding years, many renovations and improvements to update the facilities of the Club were implemented, viz, an elevated covered terrace linking the swimming pool complex to the dining room/mixed lounge, air conditioning to the latter, an exclusive Tiger Bar behind the bowling alley for members who may wish to drink in a comfortable and congenial ambience, a new open terrace surround the mixed lounge, and the expansion of the existing kitchen.  The Club now provides the following facilities:

  • Swimming pool
  • Six lane fully air conditioned bowling alley
  • 8 all weather tennis courts
  • 4 billiard tables
  • 4 squash courts
  • Games room
  • Card room and
  • Gymnasium

The Club may well be forgiven if it proudly boasts the fact that the Tiger Lane course had produced many of the country's golfing talents for national representations in the Putra, Eisenhower and World Cups.

In 1974, the Club was given the signal honour to host the Malaysian Open Golf Championship when, for the first time since its inception, the Championship venue was changed from the Royal Selangor Golf Club, Kuala Lumpur to RPGC. Graham Marsh was the winner, and Sukree Onchum of Thailand established a course record when he carded a 65 in the first round of the Tournament which still remains unbroken.

RPGC organized the 1979 - 1981, Mizuno Tournament Championship outside Japan.  Representatives of Mizuno Corporation attributed our superb handling of the 1974 Malaysia Open and our challenging golf course as being the deciding factors for the Club to organize the Tournaments.

US Masters Champion, Fuzzy Zoeller and former US Open Champion Hubert Green also brought a touch of class to the Club when they played the Benson and Hedges International Golf Series 3rd round match here in December 1979.  It was the first time that Royal Perak played host to two champions of the caliber of Zoeller and Green.  At that time, they had to contend with two different types of greens - cow grass on the 1st Nine and Serangoon grass on the 2nd Nine. Since 1986, the greens have been turfed with a hybrid of Bermuda grass called Tydwaf with the exception of the 18th which is still Serangoon grass.

The Perak Masters Open Championship, a brain child of DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, was inaugurated and played off in November 1987 as an added boost to the game and became a regular fixture on the MGA calendar.

Recent History

In 1979 the PTC leased out the Clubhouse and the land around it, as well as the golf course land, to PTCSC for a nominal annual fee. With this autonomy the PTC's financial support was withdrawn, and the RPGC (KGDP) as it had then become, having been given the Royal status by Royal Charter, was set to run the sports club and golf course independently from the PTC.

And so the KGDP functioned independently, with the land on which the golf course lay still being leased to the Perak Turf Club. That lease expired in 1991.

Thereafter KGDP entered into negotiations with the State Govt. over the extension of the lease. In 1996, after the State Government negotiations with KGDP failed, the land was leased by the Government to State Secretary Incorporated (SSI), and KGDP entered into negotiations with SSI.

When negotiations again failed to produce any satisfactory solution, in 2006 Royal Perak Golf Club Bhd (RPGC Bhd.) was formed as a wholly own subsidiary of SSI, to operate the new Club, to be known as Royal Perak Golf Club. Eight Directors were appointed to RPGC Bhd to manage the new club:

    1. Dato Abdul Habib Mansur  - Chairman
    2. Dato Seri Lee Oi Hian
    3. Dato Shamsul Bahari
    4. Dato Poo Tak Kiau
    5. Dato Hj Abdul Samat
    6. Dato Mohammad Hamzah
    7. Dr. James Low
    8. Dr. Sarjeet Singh Sidhu

The RPGC Bhd Board of Directors subsequently held several meetings with the Management Committee of KGDP to iron out issues prior to Bhd taking over completely.

By the end of December 2006 all issues outstanding between RPGC Bhd and the KGDP Management Committee and the PTC were resolved, and Bhd took over management of the Golf Course on 1 January 2007. On 1 March 2007, the Club House and its facilities were also completely handed over to Bhd, a new era under RPGC Bhd began.

The Board of Directors then went about the unenviable task of renovating the Club to put it on a new, invigorated footing. Dato' Habib Mansur often had to keep the Board meetings extending to beyond midnight. After much deliberation, and after looking at several options, the Board finally felt that it would be more prudent to tear down the old buildings and to build the Club house and its ancillary facilities from scratch.

The immediate problems surrounding the negotiations with KGDP having been finally and firmly resolved, and with plans to build everything anew having been finalized Dato' Habib Mansur, Chairman of the RPGC Board of Directors, and Dato' Mohamad Hamzah, a Director resigned from the Board on account of pressing business commitments; and Dato' Seri Talaat Hussin and En. Mohamed Razali Halib @Khalid joined the Board, with the former taking over as Chairman. The Board currently has eight members, with Dr. James Low having left at the end of his tenure, and Dato' Seri Dr Abdul Rahman having joined the Board.

The time after this was spent in endless meetings and discussions; the demolition of the old structures and putting up of the new involved long and tiring discussions. Fortunately Dato' Seri Talaat Hussin, a retired top Civil Servant, brought with him his experience as an administrator and took to the task with ease; it did, however, mean Dato' Seri having to undertake late night drives to or from Kuala Lumpur.

And after a hectic 18 months or so the 'new' Royal Perak Golf Club stood before one and all.

Grand Opening of the New RPGC Clubhouse - 8th August 2009

The new Clubhouse was formally declared open by our Royal Patron, DYMM Sultan Perak D R, on 8th August 2009. It was a celebratory occasion for more than one reason: we had a brand new clubhouse, soon to be the envy and talk of other clubs nationwide, and we were celebrating the Silver Jubilee of HRH's ascension to the Perak Throne. To add to the festivities, the opening ceremony was held in conjunction with the 'DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah Silver Jubilee Golf Tournament' held over two days.

Given that the massive building complex was put up in record time, it is actually a matter of pride that the high quality structure is also beautiful and imposing. Much of this is on account of the vision and support of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah.

The Golf Tournament, held over two days was 'booked' to capacity and we regret that many members had to be left disappointed in that they could not take part in the tournament.

The inaugural winner of the coveted 'Silver Jubilee Cup' was Dato Abdul Puhat Nayan and the Overall Ladies Champion was Ms Ashvin Kaur:

The formal dinner to celebrate the occasion was attended by our Royal Patrons, and also saw a full house with so many VIPs.

In XXXX the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dato' Seri Talaat Hussin, resigned and Dato' Jamalludin Al Amini B. Hj. Ahmad was appointed Chairman, and the current Board has 10 members, including the Chairman.

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29 April 2011