China still isn’t a big fan of golf. In a country with too many people and apparently not enough land, the communist government has shut down 111 golf courses “in an effort to conserve water and land.”
China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday the courses were closed for improperly using groundwater, arable land or protected land within nature reserves. It said authorities have imposed restrictions on 65 more courses.
China banned the development of new golf courses in 2004, when it had fewer than 200. Since that time, the number of courses more than tripled to 683 before the new crackdown, Xinhua said.
Developers build courses under the guise of parks or other projects, often with the tacit approval of local officials. In one example chronicled by state media, an illegal golf course boasting 58 villas was originally built as a “public sports park,” only to be secretly converted later. Many of China’s cities, meanwhile, face severe land shortages and skyrocketing real estate prices.
The sport was initially banned in 1949 by Mao Zedong after the founding of the People’s Republic of China and was re-introduced in the 1980’s under Deng Xiaoping and has taken off since. While it’s hard to believe the “state media” who controls everything, the fact that China has a course in every province except for Tibet speaks to its popularity.
Jack Nicklaus’s Mission Hills resort now boasts over 12 courses and is the largest golf resort in the world.
Mission Hills is China’s highest rated golf and leisure resort, and the world’s largest golf club according to the Guinness World Records. Winner of multiple international awards, the 20-square kilometre golf complex features twelve 18-hole resort and championship courses designed by golf’s greatest legends and architects. Mission Hills is the cradle of golf in China and hosts the region’s most important tournaments, including the World Cup of Golf and the Asian Amateur Championship.
China also invested heavily in the development of golf and hired Greg Norman as an adviser to China’s national team and according to Wang Liwei, the secretary-general of the China Golf Association, had as many as 10,000 youth golfers and over 300 events each year.
As in football and basketball, the government has invested in developing homegrown golf talent by importing coaches and promoting the sport. Australian golfer Greg Norman served for a time as an adviser to China’s national team. And there are as many as 10,000 youth golfers and more than 300 international-standard competitions each year, said Wang Liwei, secretary-general of the China Golf Association.
Of course if the communist government sees golf as a source of corruption they’ll do whatever they want in stopping it, but shutting down courses in a smog ridden country in order to develop more living areas where real estate prices are already through the roof seems to be their main goal even if pollution continues to increase.