The Wall Street Journal on golf in China

The Wall Street Journal‘s Jonathan Cheng recently interviewed me for his story “Beijing Pulls Out Its Driver,” which appeared in the November 27, 2009 print edition. The piece — which spends a lot of time discussing Mission Hills Golf Club, in Shenzhen — focuses on the prospects for golf’s growth in China now that it is an Olympic sport. Here’s a snippet:

Dan Washburn, a Shanghai-based writer who is researching a book on golf in China, says that if there are medals to be had in golf, China will try its hardest to produce medalists. “They’ll train them from a young age, and they’ll be state-funded, like other Olympic sports,” he says. Given China’s track record at the Beijing Games, where it won 51 gold medals, the most of any nation, it might be a bad idea to bet against it on the golf course.

… [G]olf’s mainstream popularity in China is still many years away. Land is expensive here, and official concerns about the growing wealth gap in a country that still has 600 million farmers have forced the government to impose a nominal moratorium on new golf courses.

“Golf will continue to grow in participation in China as the economy grows, but I don’t think it’ll become a mainstream game because of the resources necessary,” says Mr. Washburn, the writer. “It’s going to be an elitist and prohibitively expensive sport in China for the foreseeable future.”