Meet the Golfer: Johannes Irwan Dermawan

Simon Reynolds

Sep 9,2014

At 44 years of age - Johannes Irwan Dermawan has no plans to stop playing and competing in local Indonesian professional events. Photo courtesy of An An Arto.

2014 has been an exciting year for Indonesia’s professional and leading amateur golfers. With the help of generous sponsorship from the LINC Group and the Event Organizers OB Golf – The Indonesian Golf Tour kicked off for its first year under the PGTI: Professional Golf Tour of Indonesia. This new tour guarantees more top quality professional tournaments for Indonesia’s top players with decent prize money to be won each event. Along with Indonesia’s Majors: The Open, PGA and Masters along with ADT and several other regular domestic events the 2014 Indonesian professional calendar has 17 tournaments for Indonesia’s top players to play, compete towards developing the standard of Indonesia’s golfers. Golf Indonesia sat down with the chairmen of the PGTI: Johannes Irwan Dermawan 44 years of age, who plays on the Indonesian Golf Tour himself and has been competing on Indonesia’s Golf Tour for many years whilst also managing Emeralda Golf in the past.

Q – You managed the Emeralda Golf Club successfully for nearly 10 years, now that you are chairmen of the PGTI will this be your one and only focus?
A- Yes indeed, I will no longer manage Emeralda, as this is an important inaugural year of the IGT: Indonesian Golf Tour. Our focus now is to look after it, sustain it and attract the new sponsors to support us. As you know golfers in Indonesia have not really been exposed to top quality golf tournaments on a regular basis, more tournaments played generally translates to better performance and experience.

Q – What are your main priorities and challenges for the INDONESIAN GOLF TOUR and PGTI during this first year of operations?
A – We want to create and build a platform for the local pros, up and coming young pros to be able to play regularly throughout the year at good venues, challenges courses and amongst strong competitive fields with good prize money on offer.

Q – The LINC Group have been declared as the main sponsors for the IGT, have they committed to a long-term sponsorship and support of the tour and the PGTI, with Rp 200 million available as prize money during each event?
A – They have kindly committed to a three year deal, which is huge and provides prize money and earnings for the local pros throughout the events. By local standards there is decent money to be earned with event winners earning Rp 32 million, and the Top 10 players all having a good chance of making money each event. The first year we are proud to offer Rp 200 juta per event and next year we hope to increase the total prize purse to Rp 250 juta.

Q – What is the reason behind 3 day events unlike the traditional 4 day events we see on other professional tours worldwide?
A – The prize money is still small, we have to factor in the expenses of the players who require paying out money for the caddy fees, and tips. Perhaps, when we are able to offer a total prize purse of Rp 300 juta we will increase the events to 4 days.

Q – The Indonesian Golf Tour events have an inviting setup for younger and amateur players, who are encouraged to join and compete for the low amateur award. Talented amateurs are free to sign up and compete in all IGT events to improve their games and gather playing experience. What is the process to qualify as a professional player earning money on the Indonesian Golf Tour?
A – in 2015 we will have an official IGT Qualifying School, to earn your playing rights on the IGT Tour as a playing professional.  Players competing in the 2015 have to finish within the Top 70 to maintain their playing card for the 2016 season.

Johannes Irwan Dermawan, at the IGT Matoa Nasional event presenting the trophy to winner: I Ketut Sugiarto. Photo courtesy of Adil Anselm OB Golf.
Johannes Irwan Dermawan, at the IGT Matoa Nasional event presenting the trophy to winner: I Ketut Sugiarto. Photo courtesy of Adil Anselm OB Golf.

Q – This first year of the Indonesian Golf Tour has seen a whole host of new professional events on the local professional playing circuit. How would you compare this year’s playing calendar in comparison to the 2013 professional calendar?
A – In 2013 there only 6 local professional golf tournaments, now we have 13 local professional events. Every month we have at least one local professional tournament not including the ADT, Asian Tour, ASEAN PGA or OneAsia events. Including these high profile events the top Indonesian professional have 18 professional events to play and compete in.

Q – Indonesian professional golf can look towards our neighbors Thailand as inspiration and the number of top quality players they have produced over the years: What will it take for Indonesia to produce it’s very own Thonghcai Jaidee or Thaworn Wiratchant?
A – First of all, Thailand’s professional golfers have huge financial backing from Singha. They have approximately 26 local professional events every year, they have 2 or 3 local domestic golf tours going. It boils down to the sponshirship, as Singha’s huge financial backing funds lots of playing opportunities for Thailand’s top players. Also with the success of Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee in Asia and internationally, the local players have been inspired to follow in their footsteps and replicate these legends success themselves.

Q – When did you get into the game of golf yourself and when did you start playing professionally?
A – I really got into golf and started playing at a high level during my university studies at Hawaii Pacific University. Having graduated I moved to the East Coast in 1992 and started playing and competing on the mini-tours. After a couple of years of playing on the mini-tours I felt the urge to return to my roots and family here in Jakarta Indonesia. I was recruited to set up, build, operate and manage the newly developed: Rancamaya Golf and Country Club which had just been established. After successfully setting up Rancamaya I was recruited by Emeralda and I managed the golf club there for 18 years. During these 18 years I have been actively playing and competing on the local Indonesian golf circuit whenever possible. I recently quit Emeralda and I now will focus 100% on the Indonesian Golf Tour whilst playing the odd domestic professional event when I feel my game is at a good level.