by Eric Lim
If you have been following this blog, you may recall that yours truly wrote about visiting Kuala Kubu Bharu or KKB in short, in September. Well, guess what, I was back to good old KKB just last week (November 16) to participate in a golf competition organized by K.G.C.K.K.B ie Kelab Golf & Country Kuala Kubu Bharu.
The last time around, the whole country was facing the haze problem and it peaked at A.P.I reading of 367 “hazardous” level in Sri Aman, Sarawak on September 17. At this juncture, our country was fourth on the World Air Quality Index’s list of countries with the worst air quality. Just for the record, Mexico was reported to be numero uno on the list at that time with a reading of 882!
With the haze issue gone, we are now smack right at the beginning of the monsoon season, the North East monsoon to be precise. It usually starts in the middle of October to the end of March. It brings a lot of rain to the East coast of the Peninsular and resorts located in Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Redang and Pulau Tioman are closed during the monsoon season. In ancient times, the North East monsoon would bring traders from China to South East Asia. The Chinese came as early as the 8th century c.e, at about the time of the Song Dynasty, then through the Yuan Dynasty and the great Ming Dynasty. At Gallery B in the National Museum, visitors can see display of old time and antique pottery that Chinese traders brought for trading. These pottery were discovered from shipwrecks, mostly Chinese junks, in the South China Sea.
The golf game was scheduled in the afternoon and most of the players were anticipating rain to stop the game at some point but it turned out to be “blue skies and everything nice” throughout. Even then, many players were still complaining about their high score at the end of the round. Unlike basketball, football or hockey, in the game of golf, you need low score to win. As a non-contender, I had expected the highs and lows and was satisfied with the end result. More importantly, I was happy to finish the game.
KGCKKB was officially registered as a club in 1969, and this year is the club’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Incidentally, Sesame Street, US children’s television series also celebrate its 50th Anniversary, it premiered on November 10, 1969. They have lined up a series of events, like Show Special, Fan Games etc to mark its Golden 50th celebration. For KGCKKB, it is practically non-existent and many members are not even aware of its significance. Vijaya, a long time staff here, confirmed that the club was registered in 1969 and had its official opening on 3 July 1971 by the then Second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak. Vijaya also said that the plaque is no longer in the club and it may have been stolen. It is hoped that the piece of history did not land up as scrap metal. The first President of the club was the late YB Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh who managed it from 1968 to 1972 and this was followed by YB Encik Chan Keong Hon (1972 – 1980).
The idea for the formation of a golf club in the Ulu Selangor district actually came from YB Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh way back in 1965 when he was a Member of Parliament for Ulu Selangor (P078). YB Tan Sri Khaw was a strongman from MCA and he was also Minister for Local Government and Housing in Tunku Abdul Rahman’s cabinet. He went on to be the MP for two terms ie 1964 – 1969 and 1969 – 1972. Barely two years later, KCKKB was in full swing and the course was ready for play. In 1968, he was made the First President of KGCKKB. A close scrutiny of YB Tan Sri Khaw initials reveal that it is KKB, and what a perfect union! KKB heading KKB. On another front, YB Tan Sri Khaw and the late Tun Tan Siew Sin were instrumental in the setting up of Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) in Setapak, KL. Today, two of the buildings in the campus are named after them. By coincidence, November 16 was the by-election at Tanjung Piai in Johor and one of the key factors on the minds of the voters was the issue concerning TARC, now known as TAR UC. YB Encik Chan Keong Hon together with Kien Toh set up Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB) when Chan was given a mining lease for his involvement in getting independence for Malaya. SDB went on to become the first Malaysian company to have its own tin dredge in 1967, and was then regarded as the largest in the world. In those days, only British companies were able to own tin dredges that cost millions of dollars. SDB’s tin dredge was put to use at a village specially built for tin mining and it is aptly called Kampung Selangor Dredging. This village still stands today in Dengkil, Selangor. Six years later, another tin dredge was commissioned close to the first site. Today, the site is known as Paya Indah Wetlands. YB Encik Chan was the Selangor State Assembly Representative for Kuala Kubu Bharu from 1969 – 1974. Currently, the District Officer of Ulu Selangor district automatically becomes the President of the club.
Some of the earliest Life Members of the club include the who’s who in KKB town like Wong Swee Soon who was a two term Selangor State Assembly Representative for KKB (1959 to 1964 and 1964 to 1969); local businessmen Ngui Thong Ling, Lee Siak Wah and Sia Yew; Coates Theater owner Lim Yau Tuan and S.M.J.K (Ing) K.K.B former Headmaster, the late A.M Francis. Moving forward to 1974, a swimming pool was built next to the club house as a remembrance of YB Tan Sri Khaw for the founding of the club as well as his sacrifices and contributions made to the club. YB Tan Sri Khaw’s wife came to declare it open to club members and the public. The pool was used for underwater filming for the making of a Malay movie entitled “Potret Mistik” on 21 April 2004.
By the 80’s, KGCKKB was growing in status as a premier 9 hole golf course in the country. The design of the course had made full use of its natural surroundings and as a result, it had a hilly character which was very demanding and challenging for golfers, with some golfers calling it a commando course. Another special feature at KGCKKB is the suspension bridge that link the clubhouse to the golf course. It was then a landmark for KKB. Today, the bridge is hardly used due to the use of golf buggies.Golfers who insist on using the bridge are advised to cross with caution. Yet another special feature of the club is its wide affiliation agreements with other clubs in the country, including major clubs like Royal Perak GC, Royal Pahang GC, Royal Johore GC and Seremban International GC. Today, the club still keeps affiliation arrangements with more than 20 clubs in the country as well as three overseas clubs; in Singapore, in Zhuhai, China and in the Hunter Valley, Australia. As a matter of fact, this affiliation list may put a lot of big clubs in the country to shame.
Come the 90’s, there were huge transformations in KGCKKB, akin to the coming of the Neolithic Age. The exploits of members of the club who did very well in local competitions and these put the club very much in the limelight. P.Gunasagaran who used to be caddying at the club to earn pocket money during his younger days, represented the country in the 1989 SEA Games in KL and he won the Gold medal in the Team event. He then turned professional in 1992. His moments of “near “ glory came in March 1994 where he nearly captured the prestigious Malaysian Open that was staged at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in KL. He lost out in an eight-hole playoff to Sweden’s Joakim Haeggmann. Later that year, Guna, as he was popularly known, partnered his uncle M.Ramayah in the World Cup of Golf held in Puerto Rico and they came out in ninth position, the best finishing for the country in this event. They were paired again for the 1999 edition that was held at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Seri Kembangan. Sadly, Guna had passed away in 2017 at the age of 53.
KGCKKB became the talk of the local golf fraternity when the club came out top in the 2nd Petronas Inter Club Team Championship in 1995. It was held over two days (7th and 8th April) at two different courses, namely Perangsang Templer Golf Club and Templer Park Country Club, Rawang. KGCKKB beat 49 other teams to be the Champion and the victorious quartet comprises of Wilson Liew (Captain), A.Durairaj, Jefferson Tan and R. Nachimuthu. It was even sweeter when the same quartet retained the team title the following year, held on 19 and 20 March 1996 at the Tropicana Golf and Country Club. They beat the second placed team, Kajang Hill Golf Club by a massive 10 strokes. They were not satisfied with just the team title as R.Nachimuthu captured the individual title when he carded an 8-over 152 to take home the title. Nachimuthu is still actively competing in the local Professional Golf Malaysia circuit.
A new wing was opened in 1993 and by now, there was talk of developing the second nine holes. As far as club competitions were concerned, there were easily two or three every month and practically, members were spending most of their weekends at the club. I could remember very well that a Malay golfer friend told me that GOLF means Golongan Orang Lupa Famili (Group of people who forget their family). One particular competition that yours truly remember and find it to be interesting was the Ulu Semangkok Trophy. It was a team competition and competed amongst four clubs namely, Bentong GC, Raub GC, Frasers Hill GC and KGCKKB. It was held annually and each club would take turns to host the event and most of the time, the hosting club would win the trophy (talking about home advantage!). Incidentally, Ulu Semangkok is a name of a mountain that sits on the Main Ranch, within the borders of Pahang and Selangor and its height is 1,394 metres. It is a popular destination among hikers in and around the Klang Valley. Golfers from Klang Valley were making a beeline to join the club and soon, the new second nine holes were opened to upgrade the course into a full 18-hole course. It had its soft opening of the second nine holes on 31 December 1999.
For a rural club to come this far is indeed no small feat. For that, due recognition must be given to the Committee Members who have been working tirelessly to ensure that the course is kept well and that scheduled competitions are run come rain or shine. Yours truly know of bigger clubs who have stopped organizing Monthly Medal competitions for their members for many years now. Also, KGCKKB is lucky to have members who are still active playing in the club competitions and supporting all the club’s activities. At the just concluded Deepavali Golf Classic event, the organizing committee generously handed over a cash sum of RM 10,000.00 to the club. It is hoped that such contributions from the members would continue to keep the club moving forward to achieve the next ten years just as the country is targeting to achieve the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.