It'll come as a massive shock that the hyper-expensive, uber-gawdy, totally-unsustainable version of golf exported to China appears to be slowing down.
Andrew Browne, writing for the Wall Street Journal (thanks to JB and Bertie for sending), writes:
Just a few months ago, members of a newly opened Jack Nicklaus signature course in the Beijing suburbs woke up to discover the venue had been ordered shut amid a government audit of all of the city’s clubs. It was allowed to reopen after a few weeks, but only for members, not their guests. A nearby club didn’t get off so lightly: it had to plow up its immaculate greens and close permanently.
This isn’t a passing shower. Golf, as it’s now played in China, doesn’t have a promising future.
Browne cites Dan Washburn, guest on State of the Game and author of the best golf book of 2014, as his background for golf's history in modern China.
Washburn recently visited and offered this on his website:
But during my recent two weeks in China, I encountered more pessimism and uncertainty from those in the industry than ever before. Everyone quoted the rumor that up to 100 courses would soon be shut down, a process that perhaps got kickstarted with the closure of a handful of courses this summer. Beijing then, as it had a handful of times over the previous decade, reiterated its oft referenced but rarely enforced ban on golf course construction. It did so again just this week. Things do appear to be ratcheting up.
What to make of it? Who knows. Maybe this is truly the end of the boom. Maybe it’s just another bump in the road. Either way, it seems a good time to share with you a recent email I received from a China golf course industry veteran.
That email is worth checking out (many paragraphs). And as you might suspect, all of the reasons for the slowdown were predictable.