Sports / Golf

Golf flourishes despite crackdown on golf courses

By Sun Xiaochen ( Updated: 2015-04-10 20:47

Golf flourishes despite crackdown on golf courses

Chinese Golf Association officials, event organizers and sponsor representatives launch the 2015 Buick Championship on April 9, 2015. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The national crackdown on illegal golf courses won't affect the game's rising profile in China with more and more international tournaments tapping into the Chinese market, said golf's governing official.

As the country tightens up the construction of new golf courses amid a campaign against destruction of land and water resources, the game's popularity seems immune from administrative control as shown by the upgrade of a major local tournament into an international event on the Ladies European Tour.

The Buick Championship, which was launched last year jointly by Chinese Golf Association and Shanghai General Motors Buick Brand, will swing off its four-day competition at Shanghai Qizhong Garden Golf Club on May 7 as a newly-recognized event of the 23-stop 2015 LET season, organizers announced in Beijing on Thursday.

Offering the highest total purse of $600,000 of women's tournaments in China, the Buick Championship will attract 108 elite female golfers including China's first and only major championship winner Feng Shanshan and Britain's hopeful Charley Hull to compete in the 72-hole stroke play.

The flourish of the women's tournament presents a glimpse of golf's popularization in China, contrasting the top economic planning authority's control on course constructions.

"The cleanup of illegal courses is a national plan that was made to protect arable land and water resources. We should follow it and support its implementation," Wang Liwei, vice-chairman of CGA, said at the launching ceremony of the Buick Championship.

"It will in another way to benefit the game's healthy development in China as new regulations on standards of golf clubs and detailed rules on course constructions will be issued after the cleanup.

"It will not affect the introduction of more international events as we have enough legal courses tp host of all kinds of tournaments," he said.

Initiated by the National Development and Reform Commission, the crackdown has shut down more than 60 illegal golf courses since July 2014.

The commission added that there is now a ban on the building of golf courses, and reclamation work on existing ones to restore the land's original condition has been an initial success.

The Buick Championship features a Pro-Am team event during the final two rounds, which will see professional golfers paired with selected amateurs to play for the additional team title while competing for their own individual crown.

Zhang Xin, general manager of Qizhong Garden, said the Pro-Am format will provide the growing number of amateur golf players in China a close-up opportunity to enjoy the skillful performances of the world's best and learn from them.

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