Is Golf in China Back on the Rise?

A few years ago, golf in China was growing faster than bamboo. The Mission Hills Golf Club—the world’s largest golf complex, with 12 courses designed by the likes of Nicklaus, Norman, Faldo, Dye, and others—was emblematic of the country’s total golf immersion. But just as quickly, it stopped, the victim of a national crackdown on corruption and “bourgeois” activities. What’s the game’s status now?

Call this reading the tea leaves, but golf may be on the rebound. The China Daily, a state-run media outlet, reported that the Experimental School of Foreign Languages in Shanghai has made golf lessons compulsory for 400 students aged 7 and 8. The school’s principal is quoted as saying, “Golf is not a high-class sport exclusive to the rich. It can be a popular game accessible to all.” And a recent post on a Wall Street Journal blog noted that golf also is a required course at many of China’s private schools, such as the Beijing Huijia School, where 2,000 elementary, middle, and high-school pupils have added green reading to the three Rs. The head of sports management at that school says golf is “a skill that can be useful when they’re interviewing or applying for colleges,” and noted it can help them in their future careers.

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