Wayne Ma reports:

China has nearly 1.4 billion people, but at most perhaps three million golfers, Gilligan said. New golf-course construction has technically been banned since 2004, and the country has less than 500 courses—compared with more than 14,000 in the U.S.

The sport has long been a symbol of Western excess in the minds of many Chinese, said Dan Washburn, author of “The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream.”

Chairman Mao “labeled golf the sport for millionaires, and, honestly, that’s still what golf is to this day in China,” Washburn said. “No government official should be able to afford to play a round of golf, let alone own a golf-club membership. It is out of reach of all but the very wealthy.”