Cashing in on the Chinese golf boom

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Many on the business side of golf are convinced that China is the next big place for expansion of the game. A steady stream of American golf course operators, architects and contractors pouring into the world’s most populous country are testimony to the ongoing Chinese golf boom. Jack Nicklaus’ design company alone reportedly has more than 20 courses in development there. 
It was just 25 years ago when the country’s first modern golf course opened in Guangdong province. Now there are about 500 golf clubs and the number is growing at a rate of about 30 percent a year. A recent study commissioned by the Mission Hills Group, which operates the 12-course Mission Hills complex on the mainland near Hong Kong, cited a Chinese Golf Association estimate that as many as 5 million people play golf in China. By way of comparison, there are about 18,000 golf courses and 26 million players in the U.S.  
But the course-building has gone on despite, not because of, a decided coolness from the ruling Communist government. And no matter how much time, money and effort savvy Chinese golf supporters such as Mission Hills developer Dr. David Chu put into promoting golf, the game will never take off until they can get the kind of backing that other sports receive from the ruling powers.
The recent decision to include golf as an Olympic sport starting in 2016 is expected to boost the sport’s profile, but the key element in fueling a true Chinese boom will be the emergence of affordable, public courses. Right now, almost all courses are privately owned clubs that are expensive (average initiation fees are about $53,000 and greens fees average more than $160 per round).
What sort of an impact do you think the developing Chinese market will have on the golf industry worldwide? Do you think a golf boom in that country will be healthy for U.S.-based product and service providers? How can a golf boom in China benefit the industry here in the U.S.? We would like to know how you view the growth of golf in China and other emerging markets. Let us know what you think.  


Golfer's population in China : for golf course owner - those who play golf regularly , for equipment suppiler - those who do buy clubs / accessories. For Chinese Asian : play golf needs a car to drive over to the course / range. 2009 car sold in China 11 million+ , 2008 9.7 million+ , how many of them would buy a set of club put in the back trunk ? Truth is soon will be many for Chinese. It is not just a matter of playing , it is of FACE ! Chinese thinking is different than Western people ! The boom of golf , is much bigger in equipment industry than golf course/link and educations !

This is a very interesting area of discussion. I'm an American PGA member who has lived in China for five years. I'm currently managing the operations for a new private club in Beijing. From my perspective, there are a lot of differences between golf in the US and China (Asian in general). The emerging markets for golf are definitely on this side of the world. I feel there are great amounts of opportunity over here but one must be careful and have a sound mind. Not everything works over here. I see a lot of Westerners come over with the same mindset as they have back home. For the most part, the culture and values are quite different and they value different things here. For example, two of the most popular US brands here are KFC and Buick. Who would have thought? They have localized well and understand the culture and values of the Chinese society. For sure a Chinese golf boom will be good for America, Europe and Australia as these countries can provide some of the best support and product development. I think it is also very important to employ and train the locals in the best practices. This is currently going on and will only increase in the future. Personally, I feel now is the best time for golf course development and the equipment market will continue to ramp up in the next several years. I have seen a rise in foreigners working in the golf industry in China in the last year and I feel this will continue to grow. Opportunities for positions over here will grow however the expectations for foreigners here are growing also. Many employers nowadays would like foreigners to speak Chinese. If anyone has any questions regarding the Chinese golf market, I would be happy to field any questions at:

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