Sports / Golf

Ladies golf ceremony looks to past and future

By Tym Glaser ( Updated: 2014-03-06 17:39

As far as opening ceremonies go, the launch of the 2014 Ladies Championship golf tournament in Haikou, Hainan province, was certainly very different.

Of course the usual platitudes were exchanged between the hosts and guests - just your typical dial-a-quote type event before the real stuff begins. However, it was the setting that made it most interesting, or bizarre, depending on your taste.

Hundreds of media members were transported by buses from the host venue, Mission Hills Haikou, to the nearby Movie Town.

From the main road it looks like a clump or gray, old buildings. Upon arrival it seems to be a throwback town and, upon closer inspection, a hollowed out ghost town.

The turn-of-the-century style buildings are real brick and mortar constructions, but there's nothing in them - nada! They are elegant, signposted and line paved streets. But to walk alone among them makes you feel as if you have fallen into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

And that's not far from the truth as Movie Town is actually a movie set/film theme park and the brainchild of popular director Feng Xiaogang, the Huayi Brothers Media Group and Mission Hills.

In keeping with the back-in-the-day concept, the tournament's four premier golfers, Koreans Park In-bee and Ryo So-yeon, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and China's Feng Shanshan were decked out in 1930s-style Chinese dresses and driven to the dais in a jaunty jalopy.

Even security staff at the launch wore old-style police uniforms.

Up onstage though, the message was about the future of women's golf in the region and the 2016 Olympics, when the sport will once again be part of the Games.

"This tournament with its three-in-one (individual, team, amateur) format conforms to the stroke-play style to be played at the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro," said Ivan Khodabakhsh, chief executive officer of the Ladies European Tour, co-sanctioner of the event along with the China LPGA Tour.

"It is a unique and exciting development and I hope we will see more events of this type in the future … fresh and innovative ideas like this are attracting more people to the sport."

After the final speech was made and question asked, the guests of honor hopped into brand-new limos and were driven back to the present.

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