Except for the two major courses at Singapore—the Royal Singapore and The Royal Island, where playing conditions and amenities are comparable to those at the better British and American clubs—Asian golf requires some abrupt adjustments for the Western golfer. The only grass that seems to thrive there has a tough, almost rubbery texture, and after a few years it develops a matty thickness. No matter how well a course may be groomed—and some of those in Japan, like the new 300 Club, are the best-kept courses in the world—the fairways and greens do not lend themselves to the type of shot Americans consider the best. The ball sits up on the Asian grass as if it were a tuft of cotton, but the crisply struck iron shot tends to fly the ball, losing the backspin produced by having firm ground below. The greens, no matter how perfectly mowed, have a crusty quality, giving the ball too much speed when it is moving rapidly and then bringing it up short when it slows down. Pitching to these greens is yet another problem, for they refuse to grip the ball properly even when the shot has plenty of backspin.
It is, of course, too soon for all this Asian enthusiasm to have produced a generation of promising Oriental players, and it is still questionable whether such a generation will ever materialize. It is not a game that is ideally suited to the Oriental physique, with its relatively short arms and legs and small hands. One can scarcely foresee an Oriental powering the ball with the force of a Nicklaus or a Souchak. Yet there are those, including Cyril Horne, the pro at Royal Singapore, who insist that the next generation of Asians will be challenging the best golfers the West can produce at such major tournaments as the Masters and U.S. Open.
"They'll never swing a club with the big, powerful arc of some of your Americans," says Home, himself a stocky little Yorkshireman, "but they make up for it in wrist snap. With a well-developed wrist snap you can get as much club-head speed as you can with that big American pivot, and you won't get the back trouble, either.
"As for the short game," Home goes on, "the Asians have it all over the Westerners because they have so much more patience. They'll practice pitching and chipping and putting long after your Englishman or American gets so bored he can't stand the sight of a golf club. I tell you, you give these people another generation, enough time for the young ones to grow up with golf clubs in their hands, and you will have a world champion coming out of this part of the world. I can see it even now. These Asians love the game."