| Final Shot
Louie Chan talks to the Hong Kong Men’s Close Amateur Champion about his best ever round, favourite courses and his amateur golf career.
Jonathan Lai, the Hong Kong Men’s Close Amateur Champion, talks about his best ever round, favourite courses and his amateur golf career.
When did you start playing and where?
I was born in HK then moved to Los Angeles at around 18 months. I grew up in Southern California, and I believe I was 4 when my dad took me to the driving range for the first time. He also had never played before, and I remember enjoying practising with him as he learned to golf. My first golf tournament was a US Kids Golf Qualifying event at age 6, but I didn’t start playing junior golf seriously until I was 9, and I’ve been playing ever since.
What’s been your best ever round?
I believe the lowest round I’ve shot so far was a 63 (-7) during the 2015 Ventura City Championship in California. But I think my personal “best” ever round was during an AJGA event at Sycuan Golf Resort in the summer of 2012. I was four over through my first nine holes, with my swing completely gone, so I decided to start half-swinging and chipping drivers 230 yards down the fairway. I miraculously managed to shoot seven under on the back (1 bogey, six birdies and an eagle) to shoot a 3-under 68. That was definitely the most memorable round I’ve ever played.
How would you describe your amateur golf career so far?
I think my amateur career has been very well balanced, as I’ve achieved many of my personal goals in golf while still maintaining my academics and my work career. Going to Yale to play for the golf team was an incredible experience for me to learn both in the classroom and on the golf course. Golf has given me the opportunity to travel to many different places in the world, and apparently, as a very competitive person, it provided me with a platform to compete against some of the best golfers in the world.
What has been your most memorable moment on a golf course?
I think the best moment I’ve ever had on a golf course was walking to the 16th tee at Cypress Point Golf Club during a Yale Golf Team trip. We were in the middle of a qualifier, and I’m usually very focused on the task at hand, but the view on that hole made me completely forget about my score. It was a moment where I completely forgot I was competing and just enjoyed the golf and the scenery. I actually made a double bogey, and I think only one guy on the entire team made a par, but nobody cared because of the surreal experience of playing that hole.
Do you have a favourite course?
The 16th hole at Cypress Point Golf Club makes the entire course one of my favourite in the world. The only other course I can think of is Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland. It was my first time in Scotland, so it was a new experience playing real links courses. On top of that, the views along the Scottish coast were breathtaking.
Who would be in your dream fourball?
I’m a huge NBA basketball fan, and even more so of Blake Griffin, so I’d definitely want to play with him. I’d have to take Tiger Woods; he was the best golfer of my generation. And lastly, this might be a little different, but I would pick M Shadows, lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, one of my favourite bands. I know he’s super into golf, so it’d be cool to play a round with him.
The 16th hole at Cypress PointGolf Club