Council unhappy over golf club being run by third party
By JOSEPHINE JALLEH firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGE TOWN: The liaison council of the Bukit Jambul Country Club (BJCC) that is at the centre of a buggy rule controversy has hit out at the state government for “outsourcing” the club’s management to a Japanese company.
BJCC secretary Alfred Beh claimed members were upset over the state’s decision as the company’s primary objective was “profit driven”.
“The state government and Chief Minister (Lim Guan Eng) have failed to consider the members’ interests,” he said.
“Golf courses are places of sporting and recreational activi- ties, not institutions to rake in profits.”
Beh was responding to Friday’s dispute between the club’s disgruntled members and its management, with both sides lodging police reports against each other following the compulsory buggy rule effective Feb 1.
Club managing director Datuk Eiro Sakamoto had said the rule was to ensure golfers “maximise their time on the field” and that there was no walking on the course.
He also claimed that the club rules allowed such a rule and majority of the 2,800 club members were happy with it.
Beh said the BJCC golf course was built in 1984 as a “walking course” and that the club did not have a buggy track incorporated in the original layout.
He also claimed there were only 700 golfing members out of the 2,800, with the rest being social and associate members.
“And among this 700, probably only half play the game regularly,” he added.
Golf truly a walking game
I AM the secretary of the Liaison Council of Bukit Jambul Country Club (BJCC) and wish to clarify some of the statements issued by club managing director Datuk Eiro Sakamoto, as reported in The Star on Feb 10.
Members of the club have never challenged the proprietary status of the club.
Please allow me to provide some background of BJCC, so you can understand the situation that has led to this clash with the club management.
1. Island Golf Properties Berhad (IGPB) is the developer which operates and manages BJCC which is a proprietary club and is required by law to comply with Division 5 of Part IV of the Companies Act 1965 and the Policy Guidelines and Requirements for Sale of Club Membership dated Sept 8, 1992, and updated on July 31, 2002.
2. The club’s objective is to promote golfing, swimming, tennis, squash and other forms of sporting, social and recreational activities for members.
3. The developer (IGPB) is the registered lessee of the land [No:P.T.258, Mukim 13, Daerah Timur Laut] leased from Penang Development Corporation for sixty (60) years commencing 01/02/1985 and expiring on 31/01/2045.
4. The developer is by law required to appoint a trustee to act in the interests of club membership holders.
5. There must be a trust deed to benefit and protect members. The principle deed of trust between IGPB and the trustee and several persons who acquire/have acquired membership mentioned in respect of BJCC (the members) was signed on Nov 2, 1993.
To date, seven supplemental trust deeds have been entered into.
6. The BJCC golf course was built in 1984 as a ‘walking course’. BJCC did not purchase golf buggies nor did it have a buggy track incorporated in the original course layout. Even a buggy shed was not incorporated into the building design.
The first set of 30 buggies was acquired only in 1990 and their use was not compulsory.
Those who purchased membership as from 1984 did so on the explicit understanding that they would be able to walk the course when playing golf whilst carrying their golf clubs or pulling the same on a golf trolley.
7. One has to just take a look at how this game is being played around the world.
Watch how Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the many heroes of the game play it. They walk the golf course through 18 holes.
There had never been an international or a national game (in Malaysia) or tournament where all players ride motorised carts to move around the course.
This is how the game has to be played, with the player playing against the terrain of the course, the different conditions of the fairways and the different types of grasses on each fairway. They challenge their stamina to play the game.
Therefore, it is only natural that members of a golf club would want to play this game the same way great sportsmen play it.
8. However, over time, more and more golf clubs started to think of the golfers who become physically disabled and still wish to play the game.
That gave birth to the motorised carts. But the introduction of these carts was never meant to replace the true and correct game methods.
9. The crux of the matter is that golf has to be properly played to be called golf.
But we need to cater for the unfortunate golfers who become physically incapable of walking.
The clash with the club management did not arise from a minority few, as stated by Sakamoto.
There are some 260 golfers who were affected and are now aggrieved, not the 50-odd claimed by him.
Another claim he made which I feel was misleading was that the club has 2,800 members and all of them are happy with the new rules.
What he failed to impress to the press is that out of the 2,800 members, there are about 700 golfing members, with the rest making up the social and associate member categories.
And of this 700, there are probably only 50% of them who play the game on a regular basis.
The golf course at any day can accommodate only about 280 players, so declaring that he has 2,800 members happy with this situation is misleading.
Before the management introduced the reduction in the time meant for golfers to walk the course, there was an average of 85 to 110 members each morning and about the same number in the afternoon visiting the golf course each day to play this game.
The first change was introduced in December 2010. Several members became disgusted with the changes and stopped playing or they went to other places to play the game.
Members are now up in arms over the disruptive changes.
They bought transferable memberships through a sales pro- spectus given by IGPB, which among others, promises certain facilities for members to use and enjoy.
The aggrieved members bought their membership on the premise that they could use the golf facilities as they saw it then (i.e with people playing the game by walking the course, which then confirms that this is indeed the correct place to play the game). This gave them true enjoyment of the game.
To change any of these, the members contend that the club management (now outsourced to this Japanese company which has no roots in our state and country) has to comply with the Trust Deeds as enforced by the Companies Acts.
And the developer needs to seek the members’ agreement on any change that affects the members’ rights to use and enjoy the facilities for which the members pay a monthly subscription.
This is not an easy matter to comprehensively cover in full and to get clear understanding of. The intent of this statement is to counter the misleading claims, so that Penangites understand the implications.
To highlight a few points in summary:
(a) Golf is a walking game, same as any other game.
(b) Most golf courses today have motorised carts to give players a choice, either to use them or not to. But a choice must exist.
(c) BJCC members are displeased with our state government which outsourced the management of the club to a foreigner whose sole objective, we believe, is profit-driven.
The state government and the Chief Minister have absolutely no understanding and appreciation of the game of golf and have failed to consider the interests of the members at large.
(d) It is common knowledge that golf courses are places of sporting and recreational activi-ties and are not institutions to rake in profits. Sports clubs are social obligations to the commu-nity.
Thanking you in anticipation.
ALFRED BEH,Secretary,Liaison Council of BJCC, Penang.
The Star Feb 15, 2012
BJCC wants 10 to face the music
Sunday February 19, 2012
GEORGE TOWN: The compulsory buggy use issue has further ‘heated up’ after 10 Bukit Jambul Country Club (BJCC) members were hauled up for disciplinary action.
More then 50 people, believed to be BJCC members, turned up at the club to show support for the 10 who were accompanied by their lawyers.
“The 2pm hearing (yesterday), was postponed as the members decided to seek another date after being told by the disciplinary committee that no legal representation was allowed.
“The members have instructed their lawyers to send a notice (tomorrow) to the committee to place on record as to what had transpired at the hearing,” said the group’s spokesman Alfred Beh.
He said the members had allegedly teed off despite not being allowed to register as they refused to abide by the compulsory buggy use ruling implemented on Feb 1.
On Tuesday, the club’s disgruntled members and its management lodged police reports over the issue.
Beh claimed that members were also upset with the state’s decision to “outsource” the club’s management to a Japanese firm which had failed to consider their interests.
BJCC managing director Datuk Eiro Sakamoto could not be reached for comments.
He had said that the new rule was to ensure golfers could “maximise their time on the field” and that the majority of the 2,800 club members were happy with the decision.
Japanese firm Taiyo Resort (KL) Bhd took over the club’s management in 2010 and signed a leasing agreement with Penang Development Corporation and Island Golf Properties Bhd.