Final Shot with James Robinson

The former Executive Director of Hong Kong Land talks to Charles McLaughlin about his best ever round and the most memorable moment on a golf course

When did you start playing golf and where?

I was probably 9 or 10 years old when my father gave me some sawed-off golf clubs and taught me how to hit plastic whiffle-ball type golf balls in our backyard in Lake Bluff, a northern suburb of Chicago. At the same time, I was taking up my number one sporting passion, ice hockey (or just "hockey" to my Canadian friends) which also requires excellent hand-eye coordination in striking with force and accuracy a stationary object towards a target. My younger brother Harry (who was and still is a much more accomplished golfer than myself) and I were fortunate in middle school and high school in that the highly-regarded Lake Bluff Public Golf Course was opened in 1968, only a 5-minute bike ride from our home.  Our summers were always spent playing golf, while my winters (and later year-round) were spent playing competitive ice hockey in the Chicago area.

How often do you play?

I came to Hong Kong as a young architect/engineer in 1978, carrying one suitcase, my ice hockey equipment duffel bag, and a set of my father's golf clubs (Wilson Staff irons as I recall).  I immediately joined The American Club and it's well-organised American Club Golfing Society which held regular golf matches against other local Clubs.  A few years later in 1987, I purchased a golf debenture at Discovery Bay and also put my name down on the waiting list for The Royal Hong Kong Golf Club.  I joined the latter in 1997 (1st July to be exact) and now play most Saturdays at Fanling with friends, the Jimmy's Kitchen Golfing Society, and sometimes on Sunday afternoons with my wife Yuni who also loves to play golf.

What's been your best ever round?

My best round of golf was a nifty 75 at the original 18-hole course at Discovery Bay, the challenging Diamond and Ruby Course.  I was playing with one of my best friends in a morning match, however, because of a ferry delay, I could only join the game on the 2nd hole.  Then magic struck, and I completed the long par-5, 18th hole at just three over par; as I recall, three birdies and six bogies.  My good friend Steve Marcopoto turned to me and said, "you have to complete the round, and I will caddy for you to play the 1st hole."  So, after a quick drink to calm my nerves, we headed back out in the late afternoon, and I sank a long putt for a par-4 and a full round of 75.  Then the beers started to flow over our late lunch.

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