Golf is rapidly gaining in popularity in China

  • NEWS
  • |      September 3 2018
  • |      Reading time 5 minutes

China is a role model and pioneer in golf as a school sport

K. Guenther | September 3 2018

 

In all golf markets, golf clubs try to win new members with special offers or promotions - mainly adult members of course.

We believe that this approach is not enough. Golf clubs should not only focus on adults as their new wealthy members, and especially on the target group of women. The hidden member potential for the future of golf lies in the target group of children from the age of six upwards and parents - the families, who spend their leisure time together on golf courses.

According to the The HSBC Report part 1 of 3, published in 2012 'Golf's 2020 Vision' on the development of golf until 2020 the golf market in the People's Republic of China has been growing by 7-20% annually since 2000 (the beginning of the HSBC statistics).

The HSBC Report predicts what golf could change and look like in Asia and all other golf markets until 2020:

  1. Golf clubs and courses will be made more family-friendly. There will be family areas instead of bars in the clubs, holes will be designed more suitable for children and female golfers will find certified facilities suitable for women.
  2. 6 and 9 hole courses will complement the classic 18 hole courses.
  3. Golf will benefit from a young, physically strong and fashion-conscious generation of players.
  4. The next Tiger Woods will be a young Asian player.
  5. Asian golf brands will take over the equipment and clothing market in large steps.
  6. The more women play golf, the more gender-neutral golf becomes.
  7. Golf simulation games using motion sensors and gesture interfaces will become established.
  8. Gamers become golfers. Golf games and social events will encourage people to start playing golf.
  9. Apps on smartphones and tablets will help golfers make the right decisions - and learn from their mistakes.
  10. The sport of golf is becoming a precursor in the environmentally friendly treatment of nature, water and the diversity of plant species.
  11. The first carbon (CO2) positive golf courses have been opened, with great public interest and feedback.
  12. Golf rules and equipment rules will be changed to make the course lengths more playable again.

Even if some of these forecasts have already been made by 2018, China in particular faces an everyday problem - too high accession costs and annual fees.

Approach No. 1 - Expansion of Golf courses
The well-earning middle class has been pushing into the comparatively few golf courses for almost two decades (in 2015 there were only 473 registered golf courses in China - compared to 15,373 in the USA). As a result, membership fees have been greatly increased so as not to overload existing golf clubs with members, as is the case in Japan.

But high fees have not deterred the well-earning interested parties. Ultimately, only admission stops help to stem the flood of applications. With this development, in China, too, golf has become an elite sport due to the high costs and fees. The HSBC Golf Report cited confirms that golf must and will become affordable for all interested golf markets.

Solution - Chinese and international investors are financing and building public golf courses according to trends with fewer holes and ecologically planned landscape architecture - according to topic 11 above - a good approach.

Approach No. 2 - Attracting children and thus families, the hidden potential:
'DER SPIEGEL', a German news magazine published by Spiegel-Verlag in Hamburg and distributed worldwide, published an online-article in 2016 in which a Chinese primary school in Shanghai offers golf as a subject as part of its sports education. According to the school principal, his 400 primary school children have to learn how to play golf because golf is important for their social qualification.

The Spiegel article further points out that golf has been on the curricula of many private schools in China for years and that more and more public schools are following the example - offering golf as a compulsory school subject for their six to ten-year-olds. This development shows the foresight of the Chinese school authority to think in the long term, to activate the enormous potential of children already as a golf sport and to start golf education in schools.

A quote from the 2012 HSBC report, page 13 serves as an example:
Quote: "The Chinese golfer Andy Zhang this year became the youngest player ever to qualify for the US Open, at the age of 14, after Paul Casey withdrew with a shoulder injury. Andy began golfing at the age of six and moved to the US at the age of ten, and is a graduate of HSBC’s Junior Golf Programme in China." Quote End.

The bottomline

Investors are invited, to also pay attention to the financing of child-friendly and age-appropriate golf facilities. 235 million primary school children aged six and under 14 live in China, nearly 670 million in the 7 most important golfing nations USA, Canada, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This incredible number of golfers of tomorrow cannot train and play alone on golf courses designed for adults.

In order to compare the stroke play, children of primary school age need golf courses that are about 30% shorter than adult courses to achieve a comparable number of strokes at par 3, 4 and 5 holes. Such children's and youth golf courses, designed and built as performance centres, can be operated economically for decades, because the number of primary school children will not decrease, but will increase. TIMBER TEE’s WORLD™ is one such example of what performance training centres for children in golf can look like.

We at INNVENTT MEDIA PRODUCTION HOLDING PLC would be pleased to enter into a constructive dialogue with Chinese investor groups about the joint realisation of such a children's golf performance centre - in the UK or in China!

Conclusion

With its strategy of offering golf as a school sport, China is showing other golf markets that the problem of young talent can only be solved effectively and holistically in the cooperation of schools and golf clubs. If school development in China continues in this way, then exceptional talents like Andy Zang will soon no longer be the exception, but the rule.

For us, China is therefore the best example, role model and confirmation that our holistic training and education program for primary school children from the age of six is the right way to offer golf clubs an instrument to support the well-founded golf education of children.

Children are our future everywhere, not only in golf.