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Winning not an obsession for these golfers

Three teams in the BT Corporate Golf League share the same philosophy for the competition

Now into its eighth year, The Business Times Corporate Golf League has created a niche for itself among companies and corporates in Singapore.

Like any golf league, there is, no doubt, a competitive element to it. After six legs at different courses, winners will be crowned eventually.

They will be honoured. There will be celebrations. Prizes galore will be showered on them.

But the primary function of this three-month league is a potpourri of fun, camaraderie, networking and building relationships.

This year the BT League has attracted 12 teams for the main competition and 11 for the social event. They range from banks, big corporates, a food outlet to an accounting firm and a whisky company.

We begin our series featuring them with a look at three of the participating teams - Hugo Boss, Team Gayatri and Team Macallan.

Team Boss

The German luxury fashion house is a newcomer to the main competition, but it has been associated with the BT League for a few years now by providing one of the main prizes - the Hugo Boss Longest Drive competition where the final winner after six legs will be suited with a Hugo Boss outfit.

Making its debut this year, Hugo Boss has drawn some serious longstanding players and a host of social golfers to the team to put up a reasonable showing in the competition.

"The BT League was a good platform to develop our golf brand in the local corporate community. Golf is one of the sports that Hugo Boss focuses on and it made its first foray into golf sponsorship in 1985 by supporting German ace Bernhard Langer," said Steven Lam, the managing director of Hugo Boss South-east Asia.

"For many years Hugo Boss has traditionally supported top-tier tournaments in addition to outfitting players like Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer."

"We have a decent team with ace players such as William Tay (who topped the Seletar leg with 41 points), but our long-term mission is not to go all out for victory but to enjoy the competition," said Hugo Boss team captain Ivan Chua, a familiar face in the BT League, having played for former champions Team SunMoon previously.

Also in the team is Colin Schooling, the father of Singapore's only Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling. There are plans to include Joseph Schooling in one of the remaining legs.

The team also includes professional Timothy Low, one of the longest hitters among the local golfers. He is the team's coach and plays only in the social events.

Team Boss is currently lying ninth in the 12-team league after a solid showing in the third leg at Seletar where they garnered 107 points for a three-round total of 306 points.

Among their other players are Steven Lam, Ben Fones, Terence Yong, Shaun Tay and Christopher Taw.

Team Gayatri

The popular Indian restaurant has been a great supporter of the BT League. It has not only competed as a team (previously combining with Seagull Marine) but has also been a major sponsor.

Gayatri's providing of Indian snacks (vadai, popiah, etc) and coffee at one of the holes at all six legs is something the golfers always look forward to.

For that, the players are grateful to Gayatri boss G Shanmugam, who also plays for the team and provides lucky draw prizes on a regular basis.

Shan, as he is popularly known, often cites the age-old Olympic mantra of "not to win but to participate". His brief to all his team members is to play well but not to make winning an obsession.

In fact, Shan has a rotation system where all 12 team members get at least one opportunity to play, irrespective of their handicap.

After a modest 96 points and ninth place, Gayatri moved up to joint-seventh spot with Bank of Singapore on 307 points following good rounds of 104 and 107 points, when star player M S Maniam played a key role.

Among the other players in the Gayatri team are Bernard Chia, Chong Yeem Kwoi, Albert Tay, Susan Gan, Michael Gan, Ajaib Haridass, Denny Chong and Godfrey Robert.

Team Macallan

It was no surprise that the whisky company decided to join the competition after being a regular sponsor for the previous events.

Macallan has been a generous sponsor both at the golf games and the dinner sessions that followed each round.

The popularity of the whisky brand has grown among the mediamen and business partners after Macallan became the sponsor of the BT League over the last two years.

Besides that, the Near the Macallan Flag challenge at the six legs has become such a popular event that low handicap players have abandoned distance and targeted the 12-year and 18-year whisky offered as prizes for the golfer nearest the two flags.

In fact, a single handicapper sacrificed almost half his distance and used a nine-iron to get near the flag at 150 metres on the 17th hole during the Seletar leg to win the prize.

The generous company has also hired pretty ladies to offer its best whisky to golfers at one hole at each leg.

Team Macallan is lying 10th in the league with a total of 282 points. Among its players are long-hitter Mike Kerr, the former CEO of the Asian Tour, George Lowe, Anthony Maniam, David Pattison, Kosho Hagino, Clarence Tan, Melvin Kwek, Gary Ong and Jeffrey Tan.

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