The recent China Golf Show in Guangzhou showed the latent demand for golf in the country, notwithstanding the current government-imposed moratorium on course construction, according to one industry observer who attended.
The event, which had a smaller representation of golf architects than in previous years, did have a big increase in the amount of young people attending – a sign of the growing stature that golf has within the social aspirations of China’s rising middle class.
“There may not be many opportunities yet for young people of modest means to learn to play golf, but they nonetheless see golf as something to aspire to — part of a package that symbolises success, like owning a house and a car or having a good job in a city,” said John Strawn, president of US-based design firm Hills & Forrest.
“That enthusiasm for golf’s future is reflected in the single largest category of exhibitors at the Guangzhou show — golf simulators. The simulators are the low-cost entry point for people yearning to play golf — what they can play until China takes on building daily fee courses or even municipal courses. Golf has a fabulous opportunity in China to create a niche for itself as a popular sport but with a range of courses — from small, inexpensive daily fee courses to grand private clubs — just as it exists in the UK, Europe and the US.”