The current issue of Global Golf Post1 features a refreshingly candid interview with China-based golf instructor Cindy Reid, which may help temper some of the more pie-in-the-sky beliefs about the growth of golf here. A couple choice quotes:
GGP: What is the biggest misconception about golf in China?
CR: People assume that China is exploding with growth in golf. There’s growth, and if you go to certain areas, like Hainan Island in the south, you see a lot of construction, but it’s not the panacea that people think. There are fewer courses under construction in China now than there were in America 20 years ago. Golf is 30 years old in China, so every new course that comes on line represents a big percentage increase, because the base was so low. There is growth, sure, but in terms of facilities, China still represents a small fraction of the golf industry.
GGP: Then why does the rest of the world look at China as a Boomtown for golf?
CR: Well, when the game is shrinking everywhere else, any growth is viewed as a boom. But I also think people are awed by the size and scope of the facilities in China. It took Pinehurst a century to have, what, 10 golf courses? Mission Hills built 12 courses in 20 years, and will double that number with the Hainan Island project in the next 10 years. And the courses they’re building couldn’t be built in the West. If an architect wants to lop the top off a mountain to build a course, there’s no EPA or Corp of Engineers or Sierra Club telling him he can’t. That’s not always a good thing, but it gives golf developers a lot more freedom, which is funny to say about a country like China.
1 Am I missing something or is it next to impossible to copy and paste text from Global Golf Post stories? I eventually figured something out, but it was a very clunky workaround. If someone knows the secret, please let me know.