08 October 2017

Golf Player, Club Fitter, and Vice Captain

Beginning as a simple hobby, Erik Suhandinata has developed his passion for golf beyond simply playing and watching the sport. Erik not only has the ability to swing a club well, but he’s also knowledgeable about club fitting and has established a club-fitting store. “I learned fitting from a professional fitter. I have joined TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) several times, as well as several other brands. I love to tease the club. My clubs are also the result of fitting so it’s a useful hobby,” said the University of San Fransisco alumnus. 
His involvement with golf continued to develop when PXG entrusted him to be their distributor in Indonesia. Erik took some time to talk to us about PXG, his personal experience of golf and club fitting, and Indonesian players.


How did you get introduced to golf?
I started golfing in 1989, in my last semester of college. I was asked by friends to play golf. I did a lot of activities on the driving range but I got bored. Then, I played on the course. It felt nice to play on the course and I began to love this sport. Unfortunately, I stopped playing in 1991 when I moved to Japan. After returning to Indonesia, I started swinging the club again.


As a golfer and also a businessman how have you combined the two things?
You know, at that time, when we bought a club at the golf store, we were always provided ready-made clubs. But, I felt there was something missing in golf equipment. Then I went to the US and I learned about golf fitting. I know that the club has to be a fit, as well as the shaft. When I returned to Indonesia, I opened a fitting store called FitMax. It's just a hobby but the store has been running for seven years.


We know that you distribute PXG clubs in Indonesia. What’s the story behind how you became a distributor?
Last year, I went to Japan and had a meeting with Parson Xtreme Golf (PXG) staff. They offered me the chance to market the products in Indonesia. I was initially not interested in the offer because there are some other parties interested in marketing this product. I said I was more interested to raise and promote the PXG brand, not just selling. My reason apparently encouraged them to choose me to distribute this product here. So, in the first year (2016), we were a retailer. Then, in the second year, we became the official distributor.  


What are the advantages of PXG clubs?
It’s the quality and the technology of the clubs. The PXG owner, Bob Parson, is very concerned with product quality. He does not care if the club price is expensive. Most importantly, the products must be good, he’s not looking for profit. Bob wants to keep the product high-quality. 


So, how does PXG maintain the quality of its products?
The PXG products are sent to America and are measured one by one. Its loft, its head weight, the trampoline effect, and whether there is a defect or not, all are checked. The quality is maintained. That's why it's expensive.


In early September, you attended the 2017 IGT-PGM Championship as a vice-captain. What did you learn from the team?
I saw their team spirit was very good. Maybe because this event was the first time for some of them playing the match play format. When we practiced, I saw they played well and were relaxed. If you watched them play at the IGT-PGM Championship, they played superbly. We're dealing with Malaysian players who have become champions (in Malaysia). Our team had only a few players who had ever won. However, our players who have not won were able to beat them. I was stunned and excited, watching them play.


Is it a good sign?
Watching their spirit, there’s hope. Our players can compete. There’s only one problem: mentality. Sometimes I wonder why they never played that well in international events. We know that they always find it difficult to develop in the Indonesian Masters. They need our support. 


What kind support do you think they need?
They need to play in many tournaments. We only have eight series of the Indonesian Golf Tour (IGT); that's not enough. We need more people like Jimmy Masrin, the founder of IGT, so that more tournaments can be held. 
Until now, our golfers only rely on one person who can drive Indonesian Golf Tour and the Indonesian Masters. But, how long will it be? 

Golf courses should also be expected to help our professionals to practice. They should be allowed to play the golf courses at low cost. If they’re not able to accommodate all the pros, then just the best or the Top 10. If this can be realized, they will have a place to practice.

You’ve played many types of courses around the world. What kind of course do you like most? 
Links style. I have tried several links courses in Australia and the USA and I’m planning to try links courses in the UK.


Why do you like Links?
Links are natural courses, not artificial. This natural course is fair, they’re not made with long distances or high rough. When the weather is good, we can score well because the ball can roll, but when the wind is strong, we are forced to play low. It's a shot makers course & you need to be creative. When off the green, you can putt the ball. So, for people who cannot chip, they still can play. Links Courses are generally on the seafront, so the scenery is also great. 

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