04/27/2015

China recently closed 66 golf courses as the government revived its crackdown on the forbidden game. According to an international news agency, authorities in China have recently closed the courses in its first serious sign of enforcing a ban since 2004 on the construction of new golf courses.

In the past, periodic crackdowns took place and course construction inside China had grounded almost to a complete halt as the golfing industry fears this could just be the start of something worse to come.

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One insider in China said it seems the government is serious this time. Across most of Asia in the golf world, that is all everyone is talking about. The crackdown is real, as photos have been released of fairway and greens with trees that have been newly planted.

Three of the recently shuttered 66 course were in Beijing the capital of China, while the others were located in different areas around the country. Three courses on Hainan Island were also shuttered. The island is home to Mission Hills Haikou and has long been considered exempt from the government ban.

The history of golf in China has been strange. Considered by Beijing party officials as both an example of Western excess and a huge drain on the strained land and water resources in China, the number of Chinese golf courses has tripled since the 2004 ban to over 600, thanks in a large part to projects that have been completed with local government backing.

The announcement of the shuttering of the 66 golf courses came only a few days after it was reported that Tiger Woods had been chosen to do the redesign of a course in Beijing in a deal where he would be paid over $16.5 million.

It cannot be surprising this is happening. President Xi Jinping has led a huge crackdown on corruption. Golf is considered by the Chinese government as a sport for the rich. It would be political suicide for a government official to be seen playing golf since their salaries are so modest. Xi only earns $22,000 per year, how could he afford to play golf on that?

From the latest reports out of China, it seems as if there are more golf courses that could be closed with the next two months, as Xi lowers the boom on such a booming industry that attracts players from all parts of the world, with all talents levels that spend millions each year. With an economy slowing down in China and economic growth much less than what it has been in the past, it does not seem logical that the government would want to cut off such a big source of income for the country.