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China looking to become dominant force in world golf

November 15, 2013

If China wouldn't be on your list of golfing destinations, think again - it is steadily becoming one of the biggest countries for encouraging golf prodigies. The sport was banned until 1980 as it was considered too bourgeois by the government, and is still today considered a recreational sport only for wealthy business-people and officials alone while it is too expensive for the everyday person. Since the announcement from IOC that golf will be in the Olympics programme from 2016, the sport has been taken more seriously and now more than 23,000 children have passed through the national junior golf programme.

Beijing's most famous state-run sports academy in Shichahai provides training to children in many different disciplines, and has recently added golf lessons to their roster. Taking thirty children at a time between the ages of five and nine, they are trained for two hours every day, five days a week. The school has a reputation for excellence and is nicknamed the Cradle of Champions - unsurprising, as it has produced 37 world and Olympic gold medalists in the last fifty years.

The Nanshan International Golf Training Center of China Gold Association in the province of Shandon opened up in 2012 and cost over £50 million to build. The buildings have practise courts, physical training centres, high-quality 36-hole courts and first-class apartments for the athletes to stay in; in addition, it was cutting edge training equipment which helps to perfect the slightest issues and extensive sports therapy recovery.

Although the number of golf courses allowed to be built in China is limited, due to concerns about its environmental impact, the number of these institutions has tripled since 2004 and five million people in the country have been given a chance to try the sport. As it is such a new addition to the Chinese landscape, websites like The Greek Sportsbook can be helpful for researching the latest odds on the rising stars of golf in China; these rising stars are often taken care of well by the government, with education and training paid for, although help also often comes from rich families and big businesses.

What this means is that China now has a proliferation of young golf stars unlike anywhere else. Last year then-14 year old Guan Tianlang competed in the Masters, becoming the youngest golfer to make the cut despite being penalised for slow play. He started playing golf at the age of 4 and at the age of 11 became the youngest player to win the China Amateur Futures Tour. Ye Wocheng, trained by British pro David Watson, became the youngest player to compete in the European Tour at the age of 12. In the first round of the China Open he made a seven-over-par 79.

China's decision to embrace golf fully is in large part due to its acceptance into the Olympics, but success will take some time and some professional golfers worry that there is too much pressure on winning and not on enjoying the game; after all, golf is a sport steeped in tradition and good sportsmanship rather than the showboating of other sports.






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