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The lion's share of help

By Tang Zhe | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-28 10:21

Lion Lake's support for Guan Tianlang is just one reflection of the group's dedication to bolstering the development of youth golf in China.

According to John Ho, vice-president of Lion Lake Yijiehongtai Group, Lion Lake has other teens living and practicing at the club.

"We have many kids gather here, because we can provide them with a high-quality training base including several practice greens, long-enough courses, and sufficient facilities," Ho said.

A golf academy has been founded inside the club. The academy also provides junior coaches from China and overseas, highlighted by a PGA coach, American Vic Carder.

"These conditions are what we must have to bring up a good golfer, and have also attracted a Korean coach to lead a bunch of Korean kids to live and train here," Ho said.

Song Weilun, who has won numerous junior titles at the age of 10, is among the children at Lion Lake.

Before coming to Lion Lake, the Harbin native spent two years training at a club in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

"We chose the course in Suzhou because we wanted our son to follow a coach there," said his father, Song Qingrui. "Both the coach and the club boss recognized his ability and said they would give us a discount, but there was no real support in two years."

Song Qingrui said it costs 800 yuan ($129) to play an 18-hole round, and they had to pay another 800 if a parent joins.

Their financial burden was waived by Lion Lake, which tries to nurture promising young players.

"The club is very supportive, and we only need to pay 36,000 yuan a year to play here at any time, and the parents are free to accompany them," said Song Qingrui, who rented an apartment at the club after accompanying his son to the Volvo China Junior Championship at Lion Lake in October.

Lion Lake's support is not constrained to children who want to take on golf as a career.

The club has set every Thursday as its junior day, which enables children under 18 to play for free.

Children under 10 can play for free along with their parents on Sundays.

Last fall, the club began holding the Volvo China Junior Championship during the National Day holiday, a seven-day period known as a "golden week" for tourism.

"We surprised everyone by holding a junior tournament throughout the holiday week, which should be the most profitable time for all the golf clubs in the country," Ho said. "But it is also the week that more kids are allowed to come and play, and that's why we decided to give up the profits.

"We will hold the second edition in October, and make it an annual tradition," he said.

Lion Lake has also been home to the Aaron Baddeley International Junior Championship for three years. By winning the 2011 edition, Guan was given a berth in the 2012 Australian Open in December.

Ho said more Chinese companies should support young golfers.

"There are many young golfers in need of help, and I hope what we have done in the past years will have a positive impact on society, to lead more golf clubs into the task, to set up different junior days along the week and let the youths play without financial pressure every day," Ho said.

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