2008 PGA Show: China shows up for first time
ORLANDO – The Chinese are everywhere these days, including the PGA Show. Everyone, especially businesspeople, is all a-titter about the economic potential of the sleeping giant.
A Chinese delegation gave its first PGA Show press conference at the convention center, one of the better-attended events of the show. The gist of the event was that yes indeed, China is by far the fastest-growing emerging market in the world for golf, but they need our help.
Zhang Xiaoning, vice chairman of the China Golf Association, said it can get more help from U.S. PGA pros than it can from the government, which still considers golf a sport of the elite.
“We need to convince the government that golf is good, that they should join in and play golf,” Zhang said.
China didn’t have its first golf course til 1984 and now has only about 350 now. An expected 150 more are on the blueprints in the next three years.
Golf in Asian countries is largely dependent on the quality of its elite players. Basketball shot up in popularity, for example, after Yao Ming’s success in the NBA.
“There is still wide room for the development of courses and players,” said Zhang. “The Chinese government is cautious and controlled in allowing development, especially since farmland and usable water is closely protected. But, the potential for golf in China is unlimited.”
The problem I see is that, for the average Chinese a round of golf costs about half their household monthly income. But, an estimated 700 million Chinese are expected to move into what economists call the “consumer class” by 2020.
I’ve got my doubts about this Chinese golf explosion.
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