Bruce Emond, WEEKENDER | Tue, 02/28/2012 2:41 PM |
Jimmy Masrin loves the game of golf. And he wants to give it a sporting chance in Indonesia.
Jimmy Masrin does big business from a light-filled office off Jl. Gatot Subroto in Central Jakarta. I have been warned that he is a very busy man – he heads a holding company with diversified interests, including chemicals – but he takes a few minutes out of his schedule to talk.
Dressed in a batik shirt, the tall, tanned and lean Jimmy (he also is an accomplished mountain climber), tells of transitioning from an interest in tennis to golf, first as a sport in 1984 while studying at the University of Oklahoma, and now with a greater mission to bring it to a larger audience of Indonesians. Part of that mission was realized with the debut of the 2011 Indonesian Masters, won by world number one Lee Westwood at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
The tournament, which is Jimmy’s commitment to establishing a world-class event in Indonesia, continues this year in April, with defending champion Westwood scheduled to return. He also is establishing the Leadbetter Academy, one of the world’s most respected golf schools, in the hope of producing future champions.
Jimmy speaks in the measured way of a cool-headed businessman, but there is no mistaking his passion for golf.
As soon as I understood the game, I became addicted to it. A year later, I moved from Oklahoma to Arizona, and my passion for the game and the desire to improve grew exponentially. Today, I am still a passionate golfer. The passion has expanded beyond playing but to introduce it to many more people.
It is a great game in which a person's character can be seen. Today, many business discussions and deals are made on a leisurely round of golf. It has become an integral part of my personal and business life. It is a sport that has given me a perspective on patience, discipline and perseverance.
I am a passionate and proud Indonesian citizen. When I see how this sport has evolved in our neighboring countries, how it has grown as a sport, how it has been the platform for promoting the country for example, I am both sad and enthusiastic. Sad, on the one hand, that we are behind in many ways. Enthusiastic on the other because the opportunities are vast. We certainly should have more professional players in the international scene, more amateurs at the US college level and more youths being exposed to this game. The key driving forces are, first, creating more interest in youths to play this great game, second, having more Indonesian players being able to compete in the world stage and finally creating awareness through golf about Indonesia.
My involvement in the Indonesian Masters was a combination of good timing and "reckless" passion in wanting to create a world-standard golf tournament in Indonesia. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to watch or play in the pro-am of many successful tournaments such as the Barclays Singapore Open, HSBC Shanghai WGC championship, CIMB Malaysia PGA tournament and etc. Each time, I noticed that the country ultimately gets good and positive exposure through the successes of these events.
I wanted to be involved in having Indonesia be exposed through golf in similar manner. With this in mind, we embarked on this project in 2010. I have been fortunate to be able to "partner" IMG and the Asian Tour in making the dream a reality. I first met Lee Westwood as a pro-am playing partner around 2006 in Shanghai.
We have a long ways to go to reach the standards of Barclays Singapore Open or HSBC Shanghai, but I look at it as a long-term investment. The first year, 2011, was a painful one. The Indonesian Masters was unknown and unproven. It was a year to say to potential sponsors, sponsors, media and other stakeholders that we are serious and that we will deliver value with this event. I have to truly thank those sponsors that believed in us in 2011 and their continued support in 2012.
In this sense we have made many strides since the beginning. I believe that people believe we will deliver value for the investment that sponsors make in the tournament.
Truthfully, once all is said and done, the burden is on us to be able to deliver this value. That is the commitment we make; 2012 will be a bigger and better tournament.
We also have had more internationally known players commit to join in 2012. So, yes, indeed, we have made some stride...slow and sure. If we continue to deliver the commitments we make, I am confident that the Indonesia Masters will be able to compete with other already successful regional/global tournaments.
Preparations for 2012 Indonesian Masters started a few weeks after the end of the 2011 tournament. We are committed to ensure year-long exposure for the event, linking youth and amateur developments as well as charitable commitments through the tournament. The preparation, I believe, is well organized. We have regular press conferences announcing new updates, we have regular meetings with sponsors, with the venue course, Royal Jakarta, with the Asian Tour and event organizers. There can never be enough preparations but I think we are on track for another successful tournament.
Improving the situation for the golf sector is a question with endless angles to it. Let me start by referring back to golf in Indonesia compared to our neighboring countries. If we look at golfers in general, there are many opportunities. The number of golfers locally is growing exponentially. As such, we will need to expand the number of golf courses soon. We have over 150 golf courses and they are jam packed on the weekend. The Indonesian Golf Association (PGI) should lead in governing the expansion of the number of youths and amateurs who can develop both locally and internationally. By this, I mean to say that we should all actively support youth golf. If we support youth golf, over time, the demand for golf itself with automatically grow and thus the entire sector grows as well.
In terms of golf sector and tourism, we haven't even touched the huge potential. Thailand’s tourism is an approximately US$19 billion industry, with golf-related tourism contributing $2 billion. For Indonesia, total tourism is estimated to be an $8 billion mark with golf-related tourism unknown and probably insignificant. Opportunities from the golf sector to support tourism is still vast.
The success of the Barclays Singapore Open, the HSBC Shanghai and the Malaysian tournaments is no doubt a concerted effort by the government indirectly and/or directly together with the sponsors. If government entities are able to link the Indonesian Masters as being the platform to "showcase" Indonesia, we can leapfrog many challenges.
My aim with the Leadbetter Academy is to develop globally competitive Indonesian players. To achieve this goal, it is my belief that we should have a locally available proven system of golf teachings. Not everyone has the capability to go overseas to get coaching so we wanted to bring the quality and proven coaching to the market here.
When I say coaching, it involved more than pure skills coaching. People tend to discount physical fitness, psychological preparation and nutrition, for example. The Leadbetter Academy will be able to provide a complete package to develop an individual to become a great "golfer". It is another passionate and long-term investment. Invest in the system and infrastructure, and the results will come in due time.
do I hope for in the future? In a discussion with the
PGI Chairman Arifin Panigoro, he shared with me his bold vision: 20 Indonesian
golfers globally competitive in five years, 50 new golf courses in Indonesia,
thousands of youths and accomplished amateurs in the pipeline, a significant,
yet to be identified revenue stream through golf-related tourism and much much
more. All this by the end of 2016. I couldn't have said it any better!