Comparing golf in the UK and Indonesia

William Ashbee

Jun 6,2013

UK and Indonesia golf

Golf has come a long way since it was first exported from the sandy links of Scotland. Over five centuries of evolution, the current game is unrecognisable from the original stick and balling stumbled upon by some hardy Anglo-Saxons.
Four hundred years of uninterrupted gradual change was accelerated with the huge popularity of the game in the world’s most powerful county, the USA. Think Ely Callaway, buggies, three majors in one country and decades of American dominance. Many believe this uni-polar golfing dominance is slowly eroding away to the pace of change in the world economy, with the might of Asia seeing a shift to a more multi-polar golfing scene.
Throughout all this, the UK has managed to just about keep up, struggling to evolve with quite often a conservative outlook of etiquette and tradition, honouring the origins of the game. The ‘Five Cs’, cadies, courses, club houses, clothing and cuisine will help compare golfing stereotypes and allow for sweeping generalisations in this East meets West comparison.


Temperate weekends in the UK see junior members and more hardened stalwarts bleary-eyed in the caddy shack slurping Cuppasoup and dressed in ill-fitting luminous bibs. Usually for a bit of pocket money before being allowed to play in the afternoon, caddying is very much a parttime profession. These days, with most carrying or remotely zapping an electric trolley, they are a dying breed with buggies often anathema.

Other than being far more common place, caddies in Asia offer somewhat more distraction. Wholly professional, well versed in line and length and a constant smile on their face, anyone who has played in Asia knows their sense of warmth and fun.


Many British secretaries fear altering their prized Harry Colt layout or quite often lack the funds to do so. Without the shackles of history and tradition, Asian courses see big name multiple major winning architects, imported sand, specialty grasses, buggy paths and practice facilities all amalgamate to create a new golfing paradise.

Kingsbarns Golf Club, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland – Copyright @ Fore Linksters

Club House

International television viewers will instantly recognise the neo gothic or art deco temples of Wentworth or Royal Birkdale, with reality far more understated. Often reeking of history and tradition, they act as a simple shelter from the elements. As temples to the golfing gods, Asian clubhouses allow players to pay homage through pro shop consumption, spa meditation and breaking the finest bread and wine. Smaller comparisons arise with an assortment of creams, gels and powders compared with a five-year-old comb in a cylinder of Barbicide. Staff are numerous and attendant, their contemporaries back home being the elderly locker room attendant. Post communal shower, GMTgolfers don jacket and tie and sit down in a wooden panelled room whilst their contemporaries sit under whirling fans in flip flops.


Nick Faldo’s Open triumphs immortalised British golfing fashion around the globe. Pringle’s Argyle jumpers became the uniform, the brand synonymous with golfing kitsch. Usually accompanied by turtle necks and bobble hats, long socks with shorts in summer and strict tailoring rules, it’s a far cry from the synthetic sweat absorbent, colourful and eclectic fashion of Asian tracks.


Unchanged for decades, leather-bound British menus are frozen in time. Containing little variety on a club sandwich, hearty classics and steamed spotted dick, this is washed down with foaming ales in a dark and cosy bar. Compare this with thoughts of pitchers, free flow and sun drenched terraces, for me I can’t choose between the two.

1 Comment

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