-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanshan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Budding Writers
-
Fun
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Shopping
-
Business_Markets
-
Restaurants
-
Travel
-
Investment
-
Hotels
-
Yearend Review
-
World
-
Sports
-
Entertainment
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Markets
-
Business
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Develop golf properly
    2015-02-16  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Lei Xiangping

    lagon235@163.com

    IN China, despite a 2004 national regulation banning the construction of new golf courses, golf is booming: from 178 courses in 2004 to 639 in late 2014, according to a recent report by a Shenzhen consultancy company. This is by all accounts the fastest golf course construction boom in the world’s history.

    Golf, a sport that originated in Scotland six centuries ago, has been otherwise stagnant globally for years because of economic recession. The Chinese Central Government has issued rules to scale back the number of golf courses due to constraints of land resources, but the aggregate number still has surged.

    However, compared to the situation in developed countries, where the core values of golf are well practiced, China has a different story: with new courses built at an unparalleled speed, golf course development has been unfriendly to the environment, prohibitively expensive for ordinary golfers and highly related to corruption. These dilemmas begin to weigh on golf’s healthy development in China, which needs to be taken seriously.

    Golf course development is more prone to environmental damage than other sports. As a water-consuming and highly polluting sport, one standard course occupies at least 67 hectares of land, consumes over 400,000 cubic meters of water a year and sprays at least 13 tons of pesticides annually, which not only jeopardizes soil fertility but also contaminates underground water.

    Booming golf course development is threatening the safety of local ecosystems, environmentalists warn. American writer Dan Washburn wrote in his book “The Forbidden Game: Golf and Chinese Dream” that there are 45 courses in environmentally fragile Hainan Province alone, covering an area equivalent to the New Territories district of Hong Kong. Meanwhile, some courses, disguised as eco-parks, have been built in scenic spots, like the one in Tianmenshan tourist area in Hunan Province, which ruined its reputation as a World Nature Heritage site.

    Another concern is that golf remains a rich man’s game, fending off ordinary players. Currently, China has roughly 1 million golfers, with the number increasing dramatically. But most are practicing golf at affordable driving ranges, not regular 18-hole courses, given that a golfer has to pay at least 1,000 yuan (US$160) to play a round, and the entrance fee for a yearly VIP membership is normally above 200,000 yuan.

    Nevertheless, with wealthy people’s golf expenditures shrinking sharply these years, many courses are on the brink of bankruptcy. Xinhua recently reported that hardly any courses in Hainan are making a profit and that prices have been cut by half in order to seek less wealthy players. Industry observers suggested that ordinary players should have been offered affordable access to golf, because golf, listed as an Olympic sport, deserves more public engagement.

    Besides, golf development has a third troublesome aspect: corruption. The Shenzhen company’s report said that for the 461 newly built courses, only 10 were legally approved. Guess why? To build new courses, developers need to get permission both from the provincial government and the Ministry of Land and Resources, and pass rigid assessments by the environmental watchdog. This red tape is difficult to get through, but golf courses are an important growth contributor to land sales, adding tax revenue and attracting investment, so many local governments choose to turn a blind eye to or even facilitate illegal course construction.

    When golf development becomes an unspoken secret between local governments and developers, land is more likely to be sold at lower than market value to developers, who in return gift local officials with VIP cards and pricey villas. In this process, corruption is rampant.

    Some lawmakers have suggested that it is unwise to ban golf. On the contrary, to develop golf properly, we need to tighten the implementation of the rules to make golf courses environmentally friendly and law-abiding, issue practicable plans to make golf more affordable, and enhance the fight against corruption related to the development of golf courses.

    (The author is an editor with the News Desk at China Radio International.)

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn