Asia Journal; Day Kinda 3: The Why-Who of the Miura Cup

Much as I like the getting-there process, there is a reason for going. I’m the president of the company that makes the world’s best golf clubs, and I’m in Asia to support the people who help us make and sell them. I’m here to build and solidify relationships.

True, it looks like I’m visiting exotic places, hanging around golf resorts and tracking down magnificent food. And strictly speaking, it’s true. But it’s the people I’m with that matter. Outside the usual locales of business, we build and expand upon the trust that helps us prosper together.

I know it all sounds like business speak. But it’s basic: I want to know about the people with whom my livelihood is entwined, and I want them to know about me. So…

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Let’s begin with Lee Kin Kwok, or K.K. Lee to his friends, which is everybody. K.K. is the Miura distributor in Hong Kong, and every year he and his brother Min Kwok (Dick) organize this big May tournament, the Miura Cup, to thank his loyal customers for their business. Every detail is covered; nothing gets by K.K.’s exuberant hospitality. There is no way he ever sleeps more than a couple hours a night. Yet I have never seen his good humor flag.

The Miura Cup is a one-day event at Mission Hills, the sprawling, 12-course golf club that stretches like its own province between the southeast mainland cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan (there is a golf clubhouse in each city). So we drive for nearly two hours from Hong Kong to the mainland, complete with immigration stops.

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Uh oh…will there be golf today? Even K.K. can’t fix everything…

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We luck out; the rain passes. Joining us from Miura in Japan are Miura-san’s sons, who work with him.

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Shinei Miura (l.) is a golf club forging expert. His brother Yoshitaka (c.) learned to grind clubs from his father. The fellow on the right with the camera is Herb Wakabayashi, a Canadian-Japanese gentleman who excels in setting up good business relationships and is also invaluable as a translator.

Interviews with Asian golf magazines are always part of the agenda. I do my part, but we want the focus to be on Yoshitaka-san and Shinei-san.

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The golf itself is hot, humid and difficult. But the World Cup course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is very good, as is the company.

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Afterwards, a cold shower, a cold beer, and the post-round festivities begin…with food, of course.

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Uh-huh. Giant scallop. They went there.

Meanwhile, K.K. handles the announcements, and Miura-san, who stayed back in Japan to oversee the factory, visited by Skype.

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On lead camera was David Wan Moh, who takes pictures for Economic Digest magazine. His name isn’t really David; like a lot of Chinese, he chooses an English name to save westerners the trouble of trying to pronounce his name in Mandarin. Nor is his name Wan Moh. We simply started calling him that because after every group shot, he would reflexively say “One more! One more!” He got a laugh when we told him his new name.

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Finally, there is Peter the Dentist, a Hong Kong oral surgeon and one of K.K.’s best customers. We love Peter the Dentist. I do not know his Mandarin name, because it’s hard to ask him for it while he’s always talking about golf, asking questions about you, and generally enjoying life with a loud, enthusiastic accent on every other syllable. This is why we also call him Peter the Party.

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It’s not easy to get an in-focus shot of Peter because he’s usually moving. The only thing he does more than move is smile.

The Miura Cup, then, was one of the key reasons I came 7,800 miles. Well worth it. — Adam Barr

Copyright 2012 Adam Barr

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