CIMB Golf Club
CIMB Golf Club
Mark Twain famously said “golf is a good walk spoiled.” I thought about that phrase often as I was sat in the golf cart being ferried around the west course at Gunung Guelis on a recent weekend visit.
Admittedly there wasn’t a lot of walking going on. The rolling hills of the Puncak aren’t best conducive to folks clad in the latest golfing fashions doing too much striding.
Anyway, perhaps Twain never played golf in Asia where the game has taken on an almost mythical status among business high flyers and business wannabe high flyers.
Golf is a company thing, it’s a bonding event, it’s a time when perhaps just a little the office hierarchy can creak just a bit.
It is a time to impress the boss with your putting skills while he remains less than impressed with your sales figures over the last quarter. And most importantly, a round of golf is a time to network.
Indonesia boasts 121 banks of varying sizes. CIMB Niaga Bank is ranked the fifth largest lender by assets in that very large, competitive pond.
It is tempting to wonder how much of that success is down to business getting done on the golf course for CIMB Niaga are massively involved in the game.
The highlight, of course, is the CIMB Classic to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country from 24–27 October when the likes of Phil Mickelson will compete for the $7 million prize money on offer. But while the bank is active in the glamorous, upper echelons of golf rubbing shoulders with the top names and sniffing the rewards available to the very best, they know as well as anyone the hard work in creating, building and sustaining relationships goes on at grass roots and that is at the core of the CIMB Niaga Golf Club.
Chandra Hasan is responsible for internal communications, sponsorship and event management. A keen leisure golfer himself, he started the CNGC five years ago, seeing it as an opportunity for staff members from round the country to get together to discuss business in a convivial, relaxed atmosphere.
“I have been playing for 10 years. I thought having a golf club would allow employees the chance to get together. We have members across the country in different cities and if they just come to Jakarta for meetings everything is very formal and very rushed,” he explained.
The club meets four times a year at different courses. The September meet was at Gunung Guelis. The next one, either in December or January, will be in Bali. Other venues have included Bintan and Surabaya.
Over the years the club has expanded and currently has more than 110 staff members, 70 of which had turned up in Gunung Guelis. In addition, the CNGC have taken to inviting important clients to join them on the day out.
While networking obviously plays an important role in the club there is also an undercurrent of competitiveness. Not everyone is a regular player; I witnessed a good few hackers doing their best to scare the local wildlife as I was driven round the front nine, but several do take the game very seriously indeed and the club offers them a chance to prove themselves on grander scales.
“Some members will represent Indonesia at the South East Asia Games this year in Myanmar,” said Chandra proudly talking about the biennial event that will be held in December at the Royal Myanmar Golf Course in Nay Pyi Taw.
In addition, some lucky players will get to compete in the Pro Am that will precede the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in October when the bank will be travelling en masse to Malaysia’s capital.
“We are taking about 70 guests,” Chandra beamed, already looking forward to the only official PGA Tour event in Asia this year.
After enjoying snacks in the dining room of the club house and discussing club matters, Chandra as Chairman, was perhaps as busy as he is in the office dealing with queries and future plans, and the members started drifting away.
For them it had been a good day out. Playing on a spectacular course, enjoying good company, perhaps a massage and renewing acquaintances. For Chandra and the bank it was about cementing relationships and the promise of more interaction in the future.
As I watched standing at the entrance to the club house waiting for their cars I wondered how many of them would have agreed with Mark Twain’s words or taken issue with them.
All that remained was the arduous drive back to Jakarta along a slow moving, rain soaked Jagorawi toll road.
And the promise of KL next month!
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