Golf in South Korea could receive a substantial boost after a senior figure in the nation’s government indicated plans are in place to make the game more affordable and less elitist in the country.
According to Reuters, a document published in March by the South Korean government outlines a series of micro-measures to help boost participation in a range of sports, including golf.
Lee Hoseung, the South Korean Finance Ministry’s director-general for economic policy told Reuters: “Golf has become very popular among the public, while at the same time it has an elitist, extravagant image and is very expensive. We feel it is right that we develop golf as a public sport, ease some of the consumers’ burden, expand the sport’s base and heighten the golf industry’s international competitiveness.”
Golf lounges – where people can play a round on an artificial fairway that is projected on a screen – are very popular in South Korea. But this is not reflected in participation levels out on the country’s courses. This is chiefly down to expense, with visitor and player numbers staying stable for a number of years following a period of substantial growth in the early 2000s.
A number of clubs in the country have struggled financially in recent times – further alienating the potential golfing public and raising expense as they try to recover costs.
However, the government is now encouraging private clubs to turn public by issuing low rate loans to repay membership fees. Clubs are also being encouraged to lower the membership vote percentage from 100 to 80 per cent when proposed with a potential shift from private to public.
Furthermore, the government has advised course operators to relax certain rules that mean players must use golf carts and caddies.