It was a veritable gathering of who’s who in Malaysian golf at the ParGolf Awards 2011 Gala Night, held on Friday, 23rd March at the Concorde Hotel in Shah Alam.
The highly-anticipated second edition of the annual event, organised by ParGolf Magazine, saw award nominees and their families, members of the ParGolf Awards selection panel as well as invited guests from all facets of the Malaysian golfing industry gather for the glitzy gala dinner, styled after the Academy Awards. The awards were presented to individuals, golf clubs and golf equipment based on performances in the year 2011.
“We have introduced a few new categories for the ParGolf Awards 2011, including gender-based categories for Malaysian Junior Golfer of The Year and Malaysian Amateur Golfer of the Year, plus a Best Maintained Golf Course Award,” said Suzannah Gun Palmer, the publisher of ParGolf. “There are not one but three awards for Most Innovative Golf Equipment, plus a new Merit Award for Services to Golf to recognise those who have made significant contributions to golf in this region. We have also introduced a new Special Award, dubbed the Young Gun Award, for juniors aged 10 and below, to recognise our young prodigies and to spur them on to greater heights.
“Except for the Special Awards, all awards were decided using three channels, i.e. voting by a 50-strong panel of golf industry personalities appointed by ParGolf, an online poll on www.pargolfmagazine.com and ParGolf’s management selection,” she added.
The highlight of the night was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to the former executive director of SportExcel, Teng Mui Ngee. The former headmaster of St John’s Primary School joined SportExcel in 1998 and played a pivotal role in the development of the national junior golf circuit until his retirement last year.
In the Malaysian Professional Golfer Of The Year category, Malaysian No. 1 Danny Chia won the award for the second year running. Chia, 39, finished 2011 as the highest-ranked Malaysian in the Official World Golf Rankings and the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, and had a great outing in the PGA Tour co-sanctioned CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, claiming joint 13th spot. He also won two titles on the local PGM Tour in 2011. The other nominees were Nicholas Fung, Jean Chua, R. Nachimunthu and S. Siva Chandhran.
Women’s World No. 1 Yani Tseng was a clear winner in the Asian Golfer Of The Year category, easily winning the award ahead of KJ Choi, Juvic Pagunsan, Hideki Matsuyama and Na-Yeon Choi. Tseng won seven LPGA titles including two Majors in 2011, as well as four other tournaments.
Fifteen-year-old Low Khai Jei was named as the winner of the Malaysian Amateur Golfer Of The Year – Male award, ahead of Kenneth De Silva, Gavin Kyle Green, Arie Fauzi, Mohd Azry Asyraf Noor Azam and Hisyam Abdul Majid. Low made headlines in 2011 as the best Malaysian in the Asian Amateur Championship in joint 12th place and he won the individual title in the Lion City Cup in Hong Kong as well as the TSM Golf Challenge. In the SEA Games in Jakarta, Low was in contention for the men’s individual gold but fell victim to food poisoning and had to withdraw after two rounds.
Kelly Tan meanwhile received the Malaysian Amateur Golfer Of The Year – Female award, edging Vivienne Chin, Aretha Herng Pan, Nur Durriyah Damian, Iman Ahmad Nordin and Michelle Koh. The 18-year-old golfer won three titles at home and three in the United States in 2011 and was the best Malaysian in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in 65th spot.
Thirteen-year-old Chang Ervin was selected as the Malaysian Junior Golfer Of The Year – Male for 2011, ahead of Paul San, Amir Nazrin Jailani, Lucas Yee, Aerishna Shahshty and Low Khai Jei. Ervin picked up four titles on the local scene as well as the prestigious Greg Norman International Junior Masters in Australia in 2011.
Kelie Kan’s strong performances in 2011 earned her the Malaysian Junior Golfer Of The Year – Female award. The 12-year-old had an excellent year on the local amateur circuit in 2011, which saw her getting a call-up to the national development squad earlier this year. The other nominees were Siti Zulaikha Shaari, Loy Hee Ying, Jolene Kam, Sarfina Seretharan and Ong Shi Qing.
The inaugural Young Gun Awards saw three promising youngsters, Marcus Lim Pang Chuen, Winnie Ng Yu Xuan and Natasha Andrea Oon, take to the podium. This special award was created to recognise talented juniors aged 10 and below.
The special Merit Award for Services to Golf went to Malaysian-based Australian golf coach Tony Maloney, who is currently the head professional of the JNG Golf Academy at Saujana Golf & Country Club. Born in Sydney, this Australian PGA AAA teaching professional first came to Malaysia in 1999 and has been very much a pioneer of junior development in this country.
Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) meanwhile reaffirmed its status as the premier golf club in the country when it picked up the Golf Club of The Year – Malaysia award for the second year running. KLGCC continued to make headlines in 2011 when it hosted the Maybank Malaysian Open at the West Course for the third consecutive year as well as the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on the East Course for the second year in a row. The other nominees were Kota Permai Golf & Country Club, The Mines Resort & Golf Club, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club and Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.
The new Best Maintained Golf Course award was deservedly won by Kota Permai Golf & Country Club ahead of KLGCC, The Mines, Horizon Hills and Glenmarie Golf & Country Club. With its super-fast greens and vibrant club atmosphere, Kota Permai is one of the success stories of Malaysian golf and returned to international prominence in 2011 when it hosted the Asian Tour’s Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.
In the Most Innovative Golf Equipment special award category, three products launched in 2011 were deemed worthy – the TaylorMade R11 Driver, the iPing App and the Callaway RAZR Hawk Driver. The striking white-crowned TaylorMade R11 driver was a huge hit in 2011, boasting a range of adjustability features that create up to 100 yards of side-to-side trajectory adjustment. The innovative iPing app allows golfers to determine their stroke types by hitting five putts with their iPhone 4 or iPod Touch attached to their putter. The Callaway RAZR Hawk driver utilises the new Forged Composite material developed in collaboration with Lamborghini to allow weight to be positioned where it maximises power.