The Amateur Golf Confederation of Asia was formed in 1963 at a meeting of three countries – Japan, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei – to run the Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship’s Nomura Cup.
Since then, the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) has become a prominent organisation in world golf and is responsible for running the major international amateur championship in the region and promoting golf.
This is by no means a definitive history or even a narrative of the APGC; it could more aptly be called a chronicle of APGC action over the years. Unfortunately, many of the APGC’s early records have not survived and the original office bearers have passed on. While some facts are missing, this material does present a good overview of the APGC and provides valuable historical information that may have been lost if not for the foresight of APGC chairman Tommy Lee to commission this task.
The brief history of the APGC provides an overview of the major steps and achievements throughout its 45-year history.
A number of appendices list information such as APGC office bearers, milestones, attendees at the biennial congresses and winners of APGC championships. There is also a complete list of results for the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy and a list of the Asian Tour Awards when the APGC was responsible for the tour. Unfortunately, some of the information and names of early office bearers are missing because of incomplete records. If anyone can provide this information and fill the gaps it would be greatly appreciated.
– Dominic Wall, Director, The R&A - Asia
The Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship had its beginnings in 1962 during the Eisenhower Trophy in Kawana, Japan, when Manuel “Dindo” Gonzales, of the Philippines, proposed a tri-nation tournament between the Philippines, Japan and Chinese Taipei. Shun Nomura, vice-president of the Japan Golf Association, embraced the idea and the inaugural championship was planned for the following year.
The inaugural Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship was held in the Philippines from January 24 to 27, 1963, between Japan, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei, with a trophy donated by Shun Nomura that became known as the Nomura Cup. On the final day of the championship a meeting of the three countries was held and the Amateur Golf Confederation of Asia was formed with Gonzales elected president and Leonardo “Skip” Guinto secretary-general. Articles of Agreement were signed which were later replaced by Constitution and By-Laws at Nikko, Japan, where the second championship was held in 1965.
Chinese Taipei was the third venue in 1967 and the format of the best three scores out of four was adopted and is maintained today. Also at this championship, a number of other countries entered and it was decided to hold the event biennially during the years when the World Amateur Teams Championship was not played. It was also decided to hold congress just before the championship and the name of the organisation was changed to the Asia Golf Confederation. Guinto was appointed permanent secretary-general.
The fourth congress was held two days before the 1969 Nomura Cup in Seoul, Korea. A system of election of officers was adopted and, as a result, Korea assumed the presidency and India the vice-presidency as the next host. Unfortunately, India was unable to host the fifth Nomura Cup with the role going to the Philippines.
Also in 1969, the confederation assumed responsibility for running the Asia Golf Circuit, forerunner to the Asian Tour. The circuit was made up of a number of National Opens which were run by various national golf associations – the same bodies that were members of the confederation, so it was a logical step for the confederation to take control. A committee to run the circuit was formed, rules were drawn up and Guinto appointed chairman and co-ordinator.
The sixth Nomura Cup and biennial congress were held in Jakarta and the seventh in Japan. By now the AGC consisted of 14 members – Burma, Ceylon, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. During the seventh championship, the procedure for determining results through playoffs for the Nomura Cup was adopted and is still in use.
The eighth championship in 1977 was held in Malaysia with a then record of 10 nations competing. The newly elected president, Malaysia’s Justice Tan Sri Dato Abdul Hamid, proposed to invite Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea as members. This was agreed unanimously and the three countries accepted the offer to join. The name Asia Golf Circuit subsequently changed to Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation.
The 1977 Biennial Congress was significant because Guinto resigned as secretary-general because of health reasons and was replaced by Edmund Yong, from Malaysia, who remained secretary-general until 1996. As a result, the secretariat and day-to-day operations of the confederation moved from the Philippines to Malaysia; the move was significant on a number of fronts and helped shape the future of the APGC.
In 1978 a new constitution was approved and it was decided to hold APGC meetings in the years between biennial congresses. This meant the APGC now met annually and was able to expedite its decision-making process.
Singapore staged the ninth Nomura Cup in 1979 with another record entry of 13 countries. At the congress held before the championship, Guinto was elected first patron of the APGC in recognition of his service.
The tenth Nomura Cup in 1981 was held in India at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club with 10 countries competing. At the congress amendments were made to the constitution approving creation of the executive committee and post of vice-chairman. Four geographical zones were also created – north, south-east, west and Pacific.
Korea staged the eleventh championship in 1983 with Chung Koo Hur becoming president. Hur was to play an important role for the APGC during his term and, in particular, offered to design a logo for the APGC which was adopted in 1984 and is still in use today.
The year 1985 was important for the APGC on a number of fronts. It was the first time the biennial congress and Nomura Cup were staged outside Asia when both were held in Adelaide, Australia. A match was held between Asia and Australia/New Zealand (with Asia winning) and the APGC agreed to take over the operation of the Asian Ladies Circuit, subsequently launched in 1987 with a five-year sponsorship from Kosaido Development Corporation. The circuit became a prelude for other tours for women professionals at the beginning of the year and was co-ordinated by Mrs Rae Vadee T. Suwan, from Thailand.
In 1986, the APGC added a new championship with the inclusion of a senior amateur championship. The first championship was help at the Royal Selangor Gold Club in Malaysia and was won by Bernie Bell, from Australia, with a two-round score of 146. The trophy was presented by Chief Justice Tan Sri Dato Abdul Hamid and was subsequently called the Abdul Hamid Cup. More than 70 golfers from nine countries competed in the championship. The second event was held in Chinese Taipei. By 1991 the championship had become so popular it was decided to make it an annual event.
The 1987 Nomura Cup, played in Thailand, produced the first and so far only tie in a championship which resulted in a play-off between Australia and Japan with Japan victorious on the first play-off hole.
Chinese Taipei hosted the 1989 championship and, at the biennial congress, Tun Adbul Hamid Omar, APGC president from 1977 to 1979, was made the second patron of the confederation. The year 1989 also marked a number of major changes to the Asian Golf Circuit, including establishment of a circuit end-of-season prize, an order of merit system and appointment of Thai Airways as official carrier.
In 1990, three awards were approved for the 1991 circuit – Order of Merit Winner (“Skip” Guinto Award), Rookie of the Year (Tun Abdul Hamid Omar Award) and the Lowest Stroke Average Winner (Kim Hall Award).
The 1991 Nomura Cup and Biennial Congress were held in the Philippines with Atushi Kida, of Japan, and M.J. “Dindo” Gonzalez, of the Philippines, unanimously elected patrons of the APGC.
The Asia Golf Circuit continued to grow and in 1992 a company called Spectrum was appointed overall sponsor and was responsible for television and marketing rights. This turned out to be an indifferent arrangement and by 1994 the agreement was terminated. Also in 1992, a number of discussions began between the circuit and Australasia PGA Tour about a possible merger. This did not eventuate and by 1994 APGC members rejected an offer to merge with Australasia.
In 1993, the Nomura Cup was played at Royal Selengor Golf Club for the second time and proved another important year for the Asia Golf Circuit. The circuit name was changed to the Asia Tour, an all-exempt tour format was adopted and a special tour committee established with the responsibility of running the tour. But probably the most significant development was the Singapore Open leaving the Asian Tour to join the Australasian Tour, a move that signalled major changes on the horizon for the Asian Tour. At the time, Singapore wanted to stay part of both tours but an agreement could not be reached about the number of exempt players from each tour allowed in the field.
Perhaps sensing some issues in the market, another Asian golf tour (which would become the Omega Tour) was launched in 1994 by the Asian Professional Golfers’ Association. Ironically, this tour would lead to the demise to the Asian Golf Tour within six years.
New Zealand hosted the second Nomura Cup and congress held outside Asia in 1995 and Guinto, the APGC’s first secretary-general (1963-1978) and patron (1979), died on September 25. An executive committee was also established to run the day-to-day affairs of the APGC.
Edmund Young, secretary-general of the APGC, died in July, 1996. He had made significant a contribution to the APGC, serving in various positions for 19 years, including being the APGC’s rules officer to the R&A. David Lee, of Malaysia, replaced Young but he also passed away in August 1997. The confederation then appointed Bertie To Jr, from Hong Kong, who served as secretary-general until 2002 when Indian Dilip Thomas took over and still held the post in 2008.
In 1997 the Nomura Cup and Biennial Congress were held in Hong Kong and a number of discussions were held about areas of mutual co-operation between the Asian and Omega tours. By 1999, these discussions eventually led to the Asian Golf Tour being discontinued and the limited company which was set up by the APGC to run the tour was wound up. This effectively ended the APGC’s 30-year direct involvement with the tour and professional golf.
A biennial match between nations of Great Britain and Europe against Asia-Pacific was introduced in1998 and first played in Australia. The event, named the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy after the former R&A secretary and leading international amateur golfer, has been played every two years since 1998. Europe won the inaugural match and Asia-Pacific Team victories (2002-2004) were under the captaincy of Tai Kawata, from Japan.
Also in 1998, APGC Limited was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands with all member countries becoming directors. It was decided the chairman of the executive committee would become the administrative head of the APGC while the president would act as titular head. This led to Tommy Lee becoming the first official chairman of APGC at the 1999 Biennial Congress held in Pakistan, an appointment that has helped the APGC grow into a major force in international golf.
The 1999 Biennial Congress was also the last time the presidency would be offered to the host of the next Nomura Cup with China’s Tu Ming becoming president from 1999 to 2001. At the 2001 congress held in China, Japan’s Eddie Tsuji was unanimously elected president, a position he would hold until he retired in 2007 when he was elected the APGC’s first honourary president.
The R&A started to help the APGC in 2002 when they offered to provide financial support for running the Nomura Cup. The APGC accepted this support and rather than use the funds in tournament operations, they decided to distribute the funds to all countries that entered the championship to help offset their travel costs. The first time this happened was the 2003 Nomura Cup held in Port Douglas, Australia.
It is interesting to note that originally the Nomura Cup was scheduled for the United Arab Emirates but was moved to Australia less than 12 months out from the championship. Concern was expressed about hosting an event in the Middle East after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US and tensions in the region.
As well as the 2003 Nomura Cup being held in Australia, the APGC secretariat was also relocated to Australia and based in Melbourne at the officers of the Australian Golf Union. The AGU’s offer to host the secretariat was well received by the APGC and resulted in considerable savings to the confederation.
The 2005 Nomura Cup was held in Japan at Narita Golf Club and was won by Australia with a record-equalling low score of 814, 50 under par. This equalled the 2001 Australian Team score in China at Wu Yi Foundation Palm Golf Club and again highlighted the high quality of amateur golf from the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2006, the APGC added a new event to the calendar when it staged the first Asia-Pacific Open Amateur Championship at Mission Hills Golf Club, China. This will become the premier individual amateur golf championship in the region and Mission Hills have agreed to sponsor and host the championship for 10 years. The inaugural championship was won by Englishman Gary Boyd.
At the 2007 Biennial Congress held in Taiwan, the APGC decided to run the Asian Junior Championship, a biennial team event. The APGC has previously been associated with the championship which was held for many years in the Philippines but in2007 decided to take a more active role in the operation and staging of the championship. The first championship was scheduled for 2008.
Also at the 2007 congress, Kwangsoo Hur, from Korea, became APGC president, taking over from Eddie Tsuji. This was a notable appointment given Hur’s father, Chung Koo Hur, had been president from 1983 to1985. This was, therefore, the first time both father and a son had held the APGC presidency.
Another important milestone was reached at the 23rd congress when Fiji won the right to host the 2011 Nomura Cup. This would be the first APGC event to be held in the Pacific islands and highlights the reach of the APGC, from the Middle East to Asia, Australasia and the Pacific.
The year 2008 saw the APGC take further steps in its evolution when it appointed its first employee with Australian Dominic Wall taking up a part-time position as the APGC’s championship tournament director. His is an active role co-ordinating all the APGC’s championships, working closely with member countries and clubs in staging the tournaments.
The APGC has come a long way in more than 45 years ago when representatives from three countries met to form the Amateur Golf Confederation of Asia. It now runs four regional championships and an international team match, is recognised as the international governing body of the Asian, South-east Asian and South Pacific Games, is financially secure, has 28 member countries and close links with R&A, is actively involved in helping the golf industry in the region grow and has passionate people who want to see the great game of golf develop. With the APGC’s custody of golf in the region, it looks to be in good hands.