Gulf News caught up with 58 year-old Stephen Hong, MyGolf Dubai Academy Director at their facility in Dragon Mart to hear his Story.
Gulf News: Welcome Stephen to this golf interview. Tell us about your golfing career?
Stephen: I am originally from Singapore and will begin my journey from the 1990’s when I had my own Custom Fitting Golf Shop in Singapore. It was very much pioneer stuff and a first for Asia.
This is when we also introduced Video Teaching.
Gulf News: Then what was next in your career?
Stephen: TaylorMade approached me and from 1998 – 2003 I became an Official TaylorMade Repair Centre, Warranty Centre and I supported them with their TaylorMade Demo Days.
In 2003 they then offered me a full-time role to be their man on the Asian Tour in a sports marketing role.
There was so much Research and Development stuff happening at the time, we were using TaylorMade clubs that were not even on the market at the time.
Other rival companies were not then present on Asian Tour, only those providing balls and gloves to their players.
TaylorMade then became the World Number One Driver on all Tours: PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tours etc. They were great times and so much fun.
Gulf News: What do you consider your special golf skills?
Stephen: I am very proud of my club fitting and teaching skills. We focused on fitting golf clubs and equipment to players swings on Tour.
It was not just about swing speed or ball speed. It was all about the swing, body mass and core strength.
In 2003 on Tour we worked primarily by eye. Trackman and other similar technology came in later.
It was all about player reaction and peer feedback. No one, in those days, was paid to use our TaylorMade equipment on the Asian Tour.
Then I left the Asian Tour in 2007 for a TaylorMade training role to create a Tour experience at golf clubs involving Club Pros and Golf Academies.
All was going well, along with the internal restructuring at TaylorMade, and my new role was to take the TaylorMade Performance Lab concept, TMPL, into China.
Then in 2012 golf became a bad word in China and the business went down by 90% and it was not sustainable.
I then became the Assistant Golf Director in Teaching and the day to day running of the Golf Academy at Bayhood Number 9 in Beijing for seven years. After being in China 17 years in total, Covid hit us.
I took up cycling with my wife, Nancy, she is also a good golfer. My plan was to go into semi-retirement and to slow down.
Gulf News: How are you now in Dubai?
Stephen: I was approached by Michael Zhao, the founder of MyGolf Dubai. He sold me his concept of the multiple Golf Simulator Luxury Centre at Dragon Mart 2.
Our dreams were aligned. I arrived in Dubai on July 1st, 2022. MyGolf Dubai is a model I have seen operate successfully, especially in Beijing and China, where in their winter all the golf courses are closed.
I am very impressed with the MyGolf Dubai facilities, it is a world of its own with the 14 ‘best in breed’ Golfzon golf simulators that provide all the technology, swing replays and for the golfer to see all the numbers. There is, in my opinion, a place for this simulator tech style of teaching and this type of golf in Dubai.
I have a team of four qualified PGA Pros in addition to myself and I encourage all golfers to come to MyGolf Dubai, of all standards as well as beginners, and come and look at all the facilities. No one will be disappointed, it is world class. I hope everyone will agree.
We have an open and accessible platform at MyGolf Dubai, whether golf lessons, playing the game on almost golf courses or golf gaming, corporates, meeting facilities and a unique hospitality venue.
See you there.