Golf was banned in China until the 1980s for being too bourgeois. Regulators still don’t like the idea much and technically new courses are banned as wasteful of land resources (although developers seem to have few problems dodging the ban).
Thanks to the reintroduction of golf as an Olympic event in Brazil in 2016, the sport has become more popular with officialdom, mind you. Former Australian great Greg Norman brought in early this year as a coach to the Chinese golf team. The learning curve will be steep if Chinese golfers want to strike gold. In last week’s World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, China finished second from last among 26 teams, beating only India. It was represented by two of its best professionals in Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun, both of whom want to compete at the Olympics. But the pair shot a 20-over total of 588, compared to the 17-under score by the runaway winner and host Australia.
Other Chinese players will want to oust Liang and Wu for a place on the team, with the BBC claiming that five million Chinese children have tried the game, some of them practicing putting and chipping at provincial courses and others at state-run sport centres nationwide. “It may take a decade or two, but no other country is producing golfers in this way and on this scale,” the BBC reported this month.
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