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Golf has uphill battle in China

By Guan Xiaomeng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-05-10 17:31

Promotion of the sport of golf in China is being hindered by a lack of public golf courses and stubbornly high fees, despite recent splashes made by Chinese golfers on international courses.

There are 600 golf courses across the country, but very few of them are for public use, according to Han Liebao, director of the golf education and research center at Beijing Forestry University, adding that most of the courses occupy cultivated land, compared with using shallow beaches and landfills in Western countries.

A four-hour round in the United States is about $10 (about 61.4 yuan) to $30, while in China the fee is more than 2,000 yuan, plus caddie fees and other labor costs, according to Liu Yanbin, deputy headmaster of the Beijing Shi Cha Hai Sports School. "Labor costs are unnecessary in promoting a sport," he said.

Liu's school opened golf classes for primary school students, but he criticized the irrational spending by some parents. "A mother bought her child a golf club worth 50,000 yuan. Usually a club for children is about 1,000 yuan," he said.

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old who finished as the low amateur at the Masters golf tournament in Augusta in April and became the youngest player to make the cut in US Masters history, and Ye Wocheng, who edged Guan's record last year to compete at China Open golf tournament at 12, in Tianjin, are two lucky ones from thousands of young golfer-wannabes who started training early, at age 5 or 6.

Song Yingchun, deputy secretary general of China Golf Association, said youth golf used to be met with a cold shoulder, when only 31 children nationwide registered for a national youth golf tournament in 2007. "Now we have 15 students from one primary school in a golf class."

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