Monday, September 21, 2009

Hospitality in China

This past week I had the unique opportunity to be a guest speaker at the Les Roches Jin Jiang International Hotel Management College. One of my good friends is a lecturer for the college and knowing my background in hospitality, invited me to come speak. The day was interesting as I made a presentation to five different classes about my various experiences in hospitality. I was honored to accept this invitation as it allowed me to share my experiences of graduating from Florida State University's Dedman School of Hospitality. I gave the students a valuable insight into our program at Florida State and furthered my knowledge of hospitality education by observing one of the China's top hospitality schools.

Shanghai Normal University, located in the Southeast part of Shanghai, oversees the college and has teamed up with Les Roches, a famous Swiss-based hospitality school, and Jin Jiang, China’s largest hotel management company, to run the program. Les Roches has been named one of the top three hospitality schools in the world and currently operates five campuses worldwide. The hospitality program here in Shanghai allows students to complete their two-year associate degree before transferring to Les Roches’ main campus in Switzerland to finish their bachelor’s degree.

Over 95% of the students enrolled in the program are Mainland Chinese with the college opening its doors to foreign students just two years ago. In 2008 a total of 5 foreigners enrolled in the program with this number now increased to 27 in 2009. Students are now coming from all over the world to start their hospitality career in China and during my one-day visit I was able to meet with students from each of the following countries: Germany, Spain, Sweden, Panama, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

One of the biggest attractions for the Mainland Chinese is the opportunity to finish the program in Switzerland. This gives them valuable international experience that will set them apart from their peers in the industry. The first step for all students is to pass the IELTS exam (International English Language Testing System). Upon enrollment in the college, students are separated into five different levels depending on their English proficiency.
Here is a picture of me visiting a classroom, observing students practicing their oral English. Passing the English test depends on how diligent a student works. Some students who apply themselves can pass the test in only a few months, while others take as long as a year before they are able to pass the exam. The students are given the freedom to work as hard as they want but only after passing the IELTS exam are they allowed to officially start their hospitality classes. After passing the IELTS exam, students need another two years to complete their hospitality training. During my visit to the college, I was given a tour of the entire facility and found it to be an ideal learning environment. Students have access to everything they need to successfully learn about the hospitality industry. The campus features three restaurants, a commercial size restaurant kitchen, and several mock hotel rooms, allowing students to learn all the basics in restaurant and hotel management. Here are some pictures from the campus restaurants:

#1 – A modern casual café with outdoor seating providing coffee and small snacks
#2 – The formal dinning room staffed by students in the program
#3 – The main dining room features a buffet lunch everyday. This is where students and faculty eat their lunch everyday.

I felt the strongest advantage of the program is its ability to give students ample “hands on” experience. Students rotate through all departments of the school gaining valuable experience in the Front-of-House (FOH) operations serving as servers and server assistants as well as the Back-of-House (BOH) operations by prepping, cooking, and plating the food for each campus restaurant The school’s Executive Chef Francois Chevallier of France oversees the kitchen operations and together with an Australian Sous Chef educate the students on the culinary aspects of the industry.

#1 – A team of student chefs work together to prepare the food for the day's lunch buffet
#2 – A poster on one of the walls as seen in the hallways of the college
#3 – Student hanging out in the recreation room, playing ping pong with one of their professors

The purpose of my visit was to give students an insight into another sector of the vast hospitality industry by telling them of my experiences of working in China’s rapidly growing golf industry. Similar to our program at Florida State, one of the college’s main attractions is a 95% job placement after graduation. This is critical for a college in an extremely populated country like China.

Overall I had a wonderful experience at the college and really enjoyed spending the day visiting with the faculty and students. All the students were very welcoming and very interested to hear about my experiences coming from a well-known hospitality school in the US. I believe last week’s visit to the school won’t be my last as I’ve been invited back to be a guest lecturer at some time in the future. I’m looking forward to visiting the college again and helping out in any way that I can. I'll finish this post with one final picture. This photo is a picture of a dialogue that was written between two Chinese students in their speech class. After writing this they performed the dialogue in front of the class. I absolutely loved the speech and if you are a native English speaker I think it will bring a smile to your face, enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Valley Shanghai

After staying busy the past few weeks with work and several side projects, I decided to take a day off and pay a visit to China’s newest theme park Happy Valley Shanghai. With almost 3 years of construction and occupying a space over 10,000,000 square feet Happy Valley Shanghai is China’s largest amusement park and interesting enough located directly behind my place of work, Sheshan Golf Club. Over the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the theme park grow everyday as the park’s main attraction, a large inverted steel roller coaster, can be clearly seen from Sheshan’s 16th hole.

Below is a picture of Sheshan’s 16th Green. This picture was taken on a cold, winter day in January. The object sticking out over the horizon is the beginning of the roller coaster.

Now fast forward seven months and here is the same picture taken on a beautiful sunny day in August, with the completed roller coaster seen clearly in the distance.

Happy Valley features dozens of attractions but for me the highlight of my visit was the interaction with the locals. With virtually no foreigners visiting the park that day, it seemed like I had become one of the newest attractions as everyone wanted to come and speak with the “tall blond-haired American”. Even though I’ve been in China for 2.5 years now I still get a kick out of interacting with the locals. I enjoy speaking Chinese with them and happily take pictures with them, as many Chinese love having their picture taken with a foreigner.

That day the main buzz was Happy Valley’s giant coaster. We referred to the coaster as “jiu shi du”, which directly translated mean “90 degree” in English. The nickname comes from the fact that the coaster features … you guessed it … a 90-degree angle vertical drop from the top. Now many of my friends here in Shanghai questioned my willingness to ride a "Chinese-built" roller coaster in China, due to “safety issues”. But after doing some research I found out that this coaster, was designed by one of America’s top roller coaster engineering companies and is the exact replica of “SheiKra” the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay! Check out the following link:

Overall it was a wonderful day at the park. I went on a Monday and spent the day with some of our caddies from Sheshan Golf Club. We rode rides all day, ate KFC for lunch, and rarely had to wait in line for any of the rides. Some of you may be wondering how China’s largest amusement park was allowed to be built so close to a private golf club. Well this is something everyone at Sheshan is all wondering now. We’ve had some complaints from some of the members about the noise and that the roller coaster is a huge “eyesore” but instead of joining the protests against the park, I decided to join the park. I enjoyed it so much I picked up a membership card for only 388 RMB (about $56), not bad for unlimited access for the following year. We’ll see how Tiger reacts when he comes and plays the course this November. Stayed tuned, but for now here is a breakdown of the six remaining pictures:

#1 - Close Up picture of the "90 Degree" Roller Coaster

#2 - At the top of the "Sky Tower" Ride overlooking "Fireball" China's first wooden roller coaster

#3 - View from the top of the "90 Degree" with Sheshan Mountain in the background

#4 - At the top of the "Sky Tower" Ride overlooking the park's lake and largest water ride

#5 - View of the "Sky Tower" Ride and "Fireball" Wooden Coaster

#6 - Some very interesting themes are located throughout the park

Monday, September 7, 2009

China's Real Estate Part II

Over the past 25 years China has experienced a tremendous amount of change. In the early 1980’s the communist government gave its citizens the right to start their own businesses. This capitalistic initiative was the beginning of the raging Chinese economy that the world has come to know. Over the past two decades, China has produced a multitude of success stories, as many of its citizens have risen to an elite social level and thus defining a new status – the Chinese Upper Class. Although most of the world quietly waits the end of the current financial crisis, China seems to be the one country where luxury brands are still performing well. This week’s edition will continue on the topic of Chinese real estate by giving an inside look into China’s most expensive residential development…Sheshan's Sede Bella project.

Built on a private island bordering the 13th, 14th, and 15th holes of Sheshan Golf Club, Sede Bella features twenty uniquely designed mansions each constructed with one of the following four architectural designs: Tuscan Enchantment, French Romance, Spanish Passion, or Italian Nobility. Accessible only by bridge, Sede Bella is a truly a one of a kind development in China and seeks to provide the ultimate combination of island and golf course living.

The average size of each of these villas is 13,000 square feet and carries an average price tag of $15 million dollars. Although this might seem like an expensive price to pay, it is the top in Chinese real estate and for the elite few who are able to purchase one of these properties, the ultimate symbol of Chinese status and wealth.

So why has the real estate market in China developed into one of the world's fastest growing markets? You may be unaware that for many years, tough visa restrictions have always plagued Mainland Chinese from traveling outside of China. As many Chinese began to accumulate wealth, they needed a place within China to invest their money hence spurring a recent boom in luxury Chinese real estate.

Interesting enough, Sheshan Golf Club, home to the Sede Bella project, is just two months away from hosting Asia’s largest golf tournament, the HSBC Champions. With Tiger Wood’s attendance already confirmed, any idea which Shanghai hotel will be graced by the presence of the World #1? It won’t be the Ritz Carlton or Grand Hyatt. Tiger will be staying in one of the "French Romance" designed mansions during his time in Shanghai, I guess just another perk for being the best golfer in the world.

Here’s a breakdown of the pics, enjoy!

#1 - Scale model of the private island overlooking all 20 mansions

#2 - 150:1 scale model of one of the mansions

#3 - One of the mansion overlooking the golf course, built in the "French Romance" design

#4 - Another look at one of the island's beautiful homes

#5 - Playing golf at Sheshan's Tiger's mansion serves as a good aiming spot for this tee shot!

#6 - One of my favorite designed mansions, this house features some amazing design concepts

Monday, August 31, 2009

Real Estate in China

This week’s edition features an insight into one of most important aspects about life in China…finding a place to live.

As many of you know I have been living in Shanghai, China for the past 2.5 years. Its been a great experience to live in a big city and I’m amazed at how much Shanghai has grown since when I first arrived. With over 20 million people living here, this city is the NYC of Asia, the country’s economic powerhouse and is quickly establishing itself as one of the premier cities in the world. The city’s reputation will be further enhanced next year, when Shanghai hosts the 2010 World Expo.

With a rapidly developing city and more and more people coming here to work, finding a place to live is an important decision for anyone living in Shanghai. For most people coming to China, renting an apartment is the easiest option. Unlike Western countries, one of best advantages to renting in China is most apartments come fully furnished with everything from beds, sofas, televisions, and kitchen appliances. It’s an ideal situation for someone leaving their home country and coming to a foreign land to live and work. For these past couple years I have lived in a furnished 2-bedroom apartment about 30-40 minutes from the downtown. Because of the lower cost of living here in China, my monthly rent is quite reasonable coming in at RMB 2,500 each month (about $365).

According to Chinese culture, one must first arrange some of life’s most important needs before they can settle down. Finding a home, purchasing an automobile, and finding a stable job are probably the three most important things someone can do before looking to settle down. Most Chinese value the purchase of a home as the single most important purchase one can make, so it’s with great honor that I am excited to announce I have taken that first step in Chinese culture and purchased a property here in Shanghai!

I’ve purchased in a rapidly developing part of the city called “Jiu Ting" pronounced “Geo Ting” in English. The property is very unique and I’ll share some interesting facts about the house. The previous owners come from the Northeast part of China that borders South Korea and speak Korean not Mandarin as their native tongue. Despite being Chinese the previous owners are quite partial to Korean culture and it is reflected in the remodeling of the house. One of the most interesting parts of the home is its hardwood flooring. The wood was imported from Korea and installed with a heating system since most people from that area prefer to sleep directly on the floor instead of on a bed.

The "Jiu Ting" area of Shanghai currently has about 200,000 people living there, a large city by Western standards but only a small part of a big city here in China. Located 15 minutes from my work, living here will make life easier with shorter commute and easy access into the downtown as the house is within walking distance to Shanghai's #9 Metro Line. It will take about 4-6 weeks to complete the transaction before I am able to move in but looking forward to moving into the house in mid-October. The next question is who is going to be the first person to come visit me and stay in the house? Here's a breakdown of the pictures:

#1 – Chairman Mao had his little red book, here’s my little green book, the key part in a Shanghai Real Estate deal

#2 – Outside of the compound with guarded security entrance into the property

#3 – Outside the building that’s soon to be called home

#4 – First look at the hardwood floors as seen from the kitchen

#5 – A look standing in the living room

#6 – Bathroom furnished with nice marble and a super deluxe Korean toilet, haha!

#7 – A look from outside the property with a view of the outdoor patio area

#8 – A look at some neighboring apartment buildings in the area

Monday, August 24, 2009

China’s Caddy System

This week’s edition will feature an inside look into one of the most interesting things about playing golf in China, the mandatory use of caddies. In golf, a caddy is someone who carries a player’s bag and gives advice on how to play the golf course. Caddies have had a long history with the game of golf and many professionals working in the golf industry today got their start by working as a caddy at their local club.

Caddies were once very popular at many private golf clubs throughout the United States. But with the advancement of golf carts and GPS systems, caddies are now considered a luxury and the market for caddies has all but disappeared. Nowadays only a handful of golf clubs in the US still offer caddy services.

It was not until I arrived in China, that I was able to play my first round of golf with a caddy. For anyone fortunate enough to play golf in Asia, they have experienced playing a round with their own personal caddy. I believe there are two main reasons that caddies are mandatory at all clubs in Asia. The first reason is job creation. In the greater Shanghai area there are over 35 golf courses with each facility having between 125-200 caddies available. That’s almost 5,000 jobs created for the local job market.

The second reason caddies are mandatory is it’s an economic win-win situation for both parties involved. The average cost of a caddie for a full round of golf in China is RMB100 about 14.60 USD. Compare this with the average cost of a caddie in America being $40-60. Because of China’s lower cost of living, golfers can enjoy using a caddy for almost ¼ of the price. This standard rate also provides the caddy with a good chance at earning money. Again China’s cost of living is much lower than Western countries and for a local Chinese earning this amount is a very acceptable pay for approximately 4 hours of work.

One interesting fact that’s worth mentioning is that 90% of the caddies in China are females between the ages of 18-28. Most of these young girls leave their hometowns and come to the big golf cities of China for a chance to find a good job. With over 1.3 billion people in China, finding good work can be challenging and caddying at a prestigious golf club provides a unique working environment and the ability to earn much more money than they could in their hometowns.

Since I play most of my golf in China now, I’ve now become accustomed to having my own caddy for every round of golf I play. I always enjoy playing golf with a caddy as its great fun to interact with them on the course. All of our caddies have gone through extensive training and are all very good at their jobs. They really do an excellent job of enhancing your experience at the golf course, especially if it’s your first time playing that course. Hope you enjoyed that insight into China’s Caddy System, here is a breakdown of the photos:

#1 – Saturday Morning at Sheshan Golf Club. Hanging out with the caddies as they line up preparing to go on the golf course.

#2 – A peak inside the Caddie Room, this picture was taken around 12:30pm as the caddies were all taking a rest, getting ready to hit the course again that afternoon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Church in China

This week I want to give a glimpse into something, which for many, is a complete unknown in China, the presence of open religion. Unfortunately in today’s society China receives a lot of criticism. Much of which comes from people who have never even visited the country. The media portrays China as a dangerous country in which its citizens live a sheltered life, are controlled by a strict government, and are denied the basic freedoms that we have become accustomed to in a country like America.

Yes its true that the government controls the Internet, blocking certain websites from the public sector. It’s also true that there are problems of food shortage, sweatshops, child abduction, and poverty here in China. Unfortunately these problems exist over the entire world, even in the great nation of America. Since the founding of the communist party sixty years ago, the Chinese government has maintained a national status as an “atheist” country. I view this as the ultimate definition of separation between church and state. The government has no official stance on religion but rather allows its citizens to choose for themselves what religion, if any, they want to practice. Buddhism is by far the most popular religion in China, but others such as Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity are all openly practiced throughout the country.

This past week I was able to visit one of the most famous Christian sites in all of China, the “Our Lady of She Shan” Cathedral. The cathedral’s history dates back to the 1860’s when the area was first used as a religious site. In 1925, a Portuguese Jesuit started building the current cathedral. Built in the shape of a cross, the project took over ten years to finish and upon completion served as the most famous Catholic building in the Far East. Visitors to the cathedral start at the base of the 100m “She Shan” hill and walk up a zigzag route to the top. This path to the top of hill represents the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “The Way of Suffering”), which is the path Christ took on his way to his crucifixion. About halfway up the mountain is a modern mid-level church where mass is celebrated daily. Also located on the hill is the Sheshan Seminary where future priests from the six eastern provinces in China and Shanghai City are currently being trained.

During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, the cathedral was severely damaged, and all the stained glass windows completely destroyed. In 1981 the Chinese government oversaw a complete renovation of the church restoring it to its original condition. The Sheshan Cathedral currently serves as the only active pilgrimage site in all of China. During the month of May, hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholics from all over China come to visit the cathedral.

The Sheshan Cathedral is an important part of Shanghai’s history and interesting enough is only a few kilometers from my golf club. It’s a great symbol of Christianity in China and one that I get to see everyday while at work. Another interesting fact is the church has been coordinated into our golf club’s logo, branding Shanghai’s top golf club with the city’s oldest symbol of religion.

Hopefully this post shines some light onto one aspect of life here in China. Over my last 2½ years of living in China, I’ve been able to observe a lot of interesting things and I personally find China to be more similar than different to America when it comes to issues such personal freedoms. Some people might disagree with me on that statement, but hopefully they’ve had a chance to come and visit China and gain their own perspective. What do you guys think?

Here's a breakdown on the pictures:

#1 - The view of She Shan hill and the Catholic Church as seen from the motorway
#2 - At the base of the hill, the start of the "Via Dolorosa"
#3 - The mid-level church where daily mass is celebrated
#4 - A beautiful sight here in China, locals gathering for a Sunday mass at the local cathedral
#5 - The exterior view of the Sheshan Cathedral
#6 - The alter of the Sheshan Cathedral, featuring the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus
#7 - The beautiful interior of the Sheshan Cathedral
#8 - The Sheshan Golf Club logo, featuring the famous Sheshan Cathedral
#9 - Another church here in Shanghai, the "Xu Jia Hui" cathedral is one of the best-preserved cathedrals in Shanghai and is located directly in the heart of Shanghai's largest shopping districts. Notice the striking contrast between the church, built in 1910, and the modern high-rise apartment building in the background.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sheshan Golf Club

This week I will profile the golf course I have been working at for the last six months, giving you all an inside look into one of China’s top courses, the Sheshan International Golf Club.

Located 23km southeast of the Shanghai city center, Sheshan Golf Club was built directly next to a 100m hill called “佘山” pronounced “She Shan” in Chinese. The hill is not large by Western standards, but in the flat topography of Shanghai, this small hill stands out as one of the higher spots in the city. The Sheshan hill is a recreational area that is maintained by the Chinese government, and is a popular place for locals to travel to on the weekends. Sitting atop the Sheshan hill is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in Shanghai. Both the Sheshan hill and cathedral are visible when playing the golf course, with the most dramatic views coming from 15th tee and as a beautiful backdrop on the 18th hole.

Opening in 2004, Sheshan Golf Club quickly established itself as the premier course in China with being the home course of Asia’s largest golf tournament, the HSBC Champions. Starting in 2005, the HSBC Champions has experienced tremendous success attracting some of the world’s best golfers. Tiger Woods has played the tournament twice, finishing second both times in 2005 and 2006. Past champions also include Phil Mickelson (2007) and Sergio Garcia (2008). Now celebrating its 5th year, the 2009 HSBC Champions promises to be even better as the tournament has been upgraded to a World Golf Championship (WGC) event. WGC events are regarded as golf’s most important tournaments and Sheshan Golf Club is the first club outside the United States to host one. Sheshan currently holds Golf Digest’s #1 ranking for all golf courses in China and was recently ranked as the #68 golf course worldwide for all courses outside the United States.

One of the many beautiful things about Sheshan is the club’s incredible landscape and atmosphere. Upon entering the club, you feel as if you have left China and been transplanted to a European country. Built in an Italian Tuscany design, the clubhouse and surrounding residential properties are truly a one of a kind concept in China. The golf course’s signature holes are the 16th and 17th holes built directly around a natural rock quarry. I’ve had the privilege of playing the course many times now, and it certainly my favorite course in Shanghai. My favorite things about playing at Sheshan are its peaceful environment and beautiful natural surroundings. The overall Sheshan experience is an excellent one and it’s been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work here. Now less than 3 months away from the 2009 HSBC Champions, we will all continue to work hard, excitingly awaiting the arrival of Tiger and company this November.

Here is a breakdown of the photos:

#1 – View of Sheshan's gorgeous clubhouse from the 9th fairway
#2 – View from the 15th tee with the Sheshan hill and cathedral in the distance
#3 – Playing the 17th hole, shooting over a natural rock quarry with the club’s clock tower in the backdrop.
#4 – Overlooking the Par 5 second hole, a relatively short par 5 surrounded by water.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Student Profile - Part I

This week I would like to introduce you to one of my students, a man by the name of Henryk Mazur. Originally from Poland, Henryk has lived and worked in a variety of countries all over the world and is currently based in South Korea. Henryk is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and his story is one I would like to share with you.

I first meet Henryk in the lobby of our golf club’s hotel. He had just arrived on his flight from Korea. His reason for coming to Shanghai was threefold. He wanted to learn how to play golf, lose weight, and educate himself on living a healthy lifestyle. It was an unusual request to hear from a student, but I saw this as an excellent opportunity to help Henryk achieve something special. Weeks before his arrival, I had prepared an extensive program that we would follow during his visit in Shanghai. Henryk was like a small child on Christmas morning, filled with excitement as I revealed the week long plan I had prepared for him.

Later that evening, I took Henryk to enjoy a wonderful dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. This might sound like the worst decision for someone wanting to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle, but I quickly pointed out that the key for success is establishing balance, and sometimes there are reasons to celebrate. I wanted to celebrate the start of a good week together, and the start of our friendship. We allowed ourselves to indulge that first night, knowing that when we woke the next day, it was time to get to work.

For the next week our routine was very consistent. We started early in the morning with a workout at the club’s gym, followed by a healthy breakfast and a few hours of golf instruction. After breaking for lunch, we then went back to the range for more lessons. Finishing in the late afternoon, we then ventured into the city for dinner. Our evening meal varied each night, sometimes eating Western food and sometimes Chinese, but we focused on our goal of eating healthy fresh meals. After the end of each action-packed day we rewarded ourselves with a full body massage at the local studio. Costing a mere 60RMB (about 8.75USD) for a full hour, it’s almost a sin not to take advantage of this while visiting China.

After finishing his week training, Henryk was feeling healthier, achieved a life-long goal of learning to play golf, and lost 3kg in the process. He returned to Korea with a new level of self-confidence and maintained his healthy lifestyle back in Korea. Just three weeks ago, Henryk came back to Shanghai for a second visit. Having lost an additional 7kg, Henryk was looking great and wanted to learn more golf and get ready for his first 18 hole round on the course.

During his two visits to Shanghai, I was able to teach Henryk a lot of things about living a healthy lifestyle and in return I was able to learn a lot from Henryk’s vast experiences in Asia. Henryk’s work as an engineer is very specialized as he travels around the world completing 3-6 months contracts at various facilities. The result is he has lived and worked in nearly every Asian country at some point over the last 20 years. I loved hearing his stories and learned a lot from his experiences. Henryk further enhanced my knowledge and taught me a lot about dealing with Asian cultures. Despite not being able to speak any oriental languages, Henryk has a wonderful way of communicating through his vibrant expressions and unchanging positive attitude. This was something I realized I wasn’t doing, as sometimes the frustrations of China would result in me getting irritated and losing my temper. Henryk pointed this out to me and after spending a week with him, my experiences in dealing with the Chinese improved tremendously.

Despite only knowing each other a few months, Henryk and I already have a great friendship. We've helped each other out and serve as a source of motivation for one another. On Henryk’s final day in Shanghai, I took him to play his first 18 holes of golf. He played great for a first-timer and was there when I made the double eagle “2” on the Par 5. It was a special day for the both of us, and we both agreed it was destiny that I hit that rare shot during his first round of golf. Afterwards I invited Henryk out to dinner to celebrate my “Double Eagle”. We went back to where it all started enjoying a bottle of red wine and steaks at the Brazilian restaurant, a truly fitting ending to his second visit to Shanghai.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Welcome to the Blog"

Welcome everyone and thank you for taking time to visit my blog! Over the past three weeks I have been gathering information and preparing this website to share with you all. My plan is to make a new entry at least once a week with the main goal of this project to stay better connected with friends and family back home and all over the world.

I have already published three posts for you to read. The three posts cover my two most recent trips in China along with a special round of golf I played two weeks ago. For now most of the content will be golf related, but as I continue to make more posts I will start mixing in some other content to do my best to give you all a good overview of the life I live here in China.

Please enjoy the following posts and I'll write again soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shot of a Lifetime

This past week I experienced one of the most exciting shots of my golfing career. I took one of my students out to play a course in Shanghai called “Yin Tao”. The 13th Hole at Yin Tao is a 520-yard dogleg right Par 5. After hitting a nice drive down the fairway, I was left with 220 yards to the hole. Yin Tao’s 13th hole features an island green, surrounded by water on all sides. I hit my second shot toward the middle of the green, but because of my angle from the fairway and a few trees in front of me, I lost track of the ball and did not see it land.

As we began approaching the green, my caddie and I disagreed on where my ball landed. She felt I hit it short and began looking for it near the water hazard. I knew I hit the shot well and proceeded to the back of the green to begin my search for the ball. We both looked for a couple minutes before I casually strode by the hole, taking a slight glance inside. I was absolutely astonished to find my Taylormade golf ball sitting inside the hole!

I holed out my second shot from 220 yards to score a “2” on the par 5! In golf this is called an “Albatross” or “Double Eagle” and is the rarest shot in golf. Not knowing how to say this in Chinese I asked my caddie what the Chinese name is and she replied that in her six years of working at the club, she had never seen one before and also did not know what it was called. (I have since learned that albatross in Chinese is “Xin Tian Weng”).

I still have not recorded a “Hole-in-One”, but an albatross is much harder to achieve. After “googling” them both I learned that every year over 40,000 hole-in-ones are recorded every year in the US, while only a couple hundred “albatrosses” are reported each year. I’m so happy I put my camera in the bag that day, as I was able to capture a classic picture to go along with this post. My greatest shot in golf…. so far! Enjoy the picture and more to come soon!