In 1995, Zhou Xunshu dropped out of security guard school in the province of Guizhou and made his way south to Guangdong, China’s manufacturing heartland. With almost no money in his pocket, he was following the well-worn tracks of millions of young migrant workers hoping to escape rural poverty.
He got a job working as a security guard at a golf club, one of an estimated 15 courses that existed in China at the time. Still, the athletic young man was not content. He desperately wanted to play golf but faced serious obstacles: he had no money and the club only allowed managers to use the course. “It was like having a delicious piece of meat in your mouth but not being able to eat it,” Zhou tells journalist Dan Washburn, who recounts the story in his excellent book The Forbidden Game.
After several years, a manager takes a risk and allows Zhou to swing an expensive driver. He is soon outdriving everyone at the club. A decade later – and following many trials and tribulations – Zhou in 2008 achieved his dream of becoming a professional golfer, playing a sport that most people in China have never seen.
Zhou is one of three people whose narratives are woven together in Washburn’s colourful account of the rise of golf in China.
Read the rest at The Financial Times.