How Popular is Golf in China?

Golf has been one of the fastest-growing sports in China over the past decade. With its increasing popularity, one may wonder just how many people play golf in China. In this article, we will explore the current state of golf in China and try to answer the question of just how popular it is. From the number of golf courses to the number of players, we will delve into the world of golf in China and see just how far it has come. So, let’s tee off and find out!

Quick Answer:
Golf is a sport that has been gaining popularity in China in recent years. The country has seen a significant increase in the number of golf courses and golfers, making it one of the fastest-growing golf markets in the world. According to recent reports, there are now over 400 golf courses in China, with many more in development. Additionally, the number of golfers in China is estimated to be over 10 million, making it the second-largest golf market in the world after the United States. Despite the growth in popularity, golf still faces some challenges in China, such as a lack of trained professionals and a need for better infrastructure. However, with the government’s support and investment in the sport, golf is expected to continue to grow in popularity in China in the coming years.

The Growth of Golf in China

The Evolution of Golf in China

  • Early beginnings
    Golf first arrived in China in the late 19th century, brought by British sailors and expatriates. The game was initially played in Shanghai, a major port city that was open to foreign trade. The first recorded game of golf in China was played in 1863 in Shanghai’s Zhabei district.
  • Golf as a foreign sport
    During the early years, golf was seen as a sport for foreigners and was not widely embraced by the local population. However, as China’s economy and society began to open up in the 1980s, golf started to gain popularity among the Chinese elite.
  • First golf courses in China
    The first golf course in China was built in 1918 in Tianjin, a city near Beijing. The course was designed by British architects and was used primarily by foreigners. In the 1980s, more golf courses were built in China, primarily in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. These courses were mostly owned and operated by foreign companies and were exclusive, with high membership fees.

Overall, the evolution of golf in China can be seen as a reflection of the country’s changing social and economic landscape. As China has become more open to the world, golf has become more popular among the Chinese population, although it still remains a sport primarily played by the wealthy elite.

Government Support and Investment

Golf has experienced significant growth in China in recent years, thanks in part to the government’s support and investment in the sport. The Chinese government has recognized the potential of golf as a means to promote economic growth and has taken steps to encourage its development.

One of the primary ways the government has supported golf is by investing in the construction of golf courses and related facilities. In the last decade, China has seen a rapid expansion of golf courses, with many new courses built in cities and resort areas. This investment has helped to make golf more accessible to the general public and has contributed to its growing popularity.

In addition to building new courses, the government has also increased its investment in the golf industry through various initiatives. For example, the government has supported the development of golf training centers and has provided funding for international golf tournaments held in China. These efforts have helped to raise the profile of golf in the country and have attracted more people to the sport.

Furthermore, the government has implemented policies aimed at promoting golf as a means to boost tourism. By hosting international golf events and promoting golf-related tourism, the government hopes to attract more visitors to the country and to boost the economy.

Overall, the government’s support and investment in golf have played a significant role in the sport’s growth in China. As the country continues to invest in golf infrastructure and promote the sport, it is likely that golf will remain a popular and important part of China’s sporting landscape.

Golf’s Appeal to the Chinese Population

  • Rise of the middle class
    The growth of the middle class in China has been a significant factor in the rise of golf’s popularity. As more people have entered the middle class, they have had more disposable income to spend on leisure activities, including golf.
  • Desire for Western lifestyle
    Another reason for golf’s popularity in China is the desire for a Western lifestyle. Golf is often seen as a symbol of modernity and sophistication, and many Chinese people aspire to emulate the lifestyles of their Western counterparts.
  • Golf as a status symbol
    Golf has also become a status symbol in China, with many people seeing it as a way to demonstrate their wealth and success. This has led to the development of high-end golf courses and clubs, which cater to the wealthy elite.

Overall, the combination of a growing middle class, a desire for a Western lifestyle, and golf’s status as a symbol of success has contributed to its popularity in China. However, it is important to note that golf is still a relatively niche sport in the country, and its popularity is not universal.

The Current State of Golf in China

Key takeaway: Golf has experienced significant growth in popularity in China in recent years, thanks in part to the government’s support and investment in the sport. The number of golf courses in China has rapidly increased, and golf has become a status symbol for the wealthy elite. However, the growth of the middle class and the desire for a Western lifestyle have also contributed to golf’s popularity. Despite its niche status, golf is expected to continue to grow in China, with the number of golfers, golf club memberships, and the popularity of golf among different age groups and income levels.

Golf Course Development

Number of Golf Courses in China

Golf has experienced a remarkable rise in popularity in China over the past two decades, leading to a significant increase in the number of golf courses throughout the country. According to the National Golf Association of China, there were approximately 450 golf courses in China as of 2021, with the majority of them located in the eastern region, particularly in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangdong Province. This number is expected to continue to grow as more investors and developers recognize the potential of the golf industry in China.

Distribution of Golf Courses across the Country

The distribution of golf courses across China is relatively uneven, with the majority of courses located in urban areas and coastal regions. The eastern coastal cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, have the highest concentration of golf courses, while the inland provinces have fewer options for golfers. However, as the popularity of golf continues to grow, more courses are being developed in second-tier cities and inland regions, providing more opportunities for golfers to play the sport.

Top Golf Courses in China

China boasts several world-class golf courses that are recognized internationally for their design, quality, and challenge. Some of the top golf courses in China include:

  • Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, which has hosted the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament, a World Golf Championship event.
  • The Ocean Course at the Jumeirah Hainan Island, located in Hainan Province, which offers stunning views of the ocean and is designed by Greg Norman.
  • The Blackstone Golf Club in Shenyang, which is ranked as one of the best golf courses in China and features a challenging layout that winds through a forest.

Overall, the development of golf courses in China has been rapid and impressive, with no signs of slowing down. As the country continues to embrace golf as a popular sport and leisure activity, the number of courses is likely to increase, and more world-class facilities will be built to meet the demand of golfers in China.

Golf Participation and Membership

Number of Golfers in China

The number of golfers in China has been steadily increasing over the past few years. According to a report by the State General Administration of Sport of China, there were approximately 21.6 million golfers in China as of 2020, which represents a significant increase from the 17.9 million golfers reported in 2016. This growth can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increased popularity of the sport, the expansion of golf courses and driving ranges, and the rising disposable income of the Chinese population.

Golf Club Memberships

Golf club memberships have also seen a rise in popularity in China. Many of the country’s top golf clubs have waiting lists for membership, and some of the most exclusive clubs have waiting lists that stretch for several years. In addition, many of the new golf courses being built in China are focused on catering to the needs of club members, rather than relying on public play.

Popularity of Golf among Different Age Groups and Income Levels

Golf has become increasingly popular among a wide range of age groups and income levels in China. While the sport was traditionally associated with the country’s wealthy elite, it has now become more accessible to the general population. According to a survey conducted by the China Golf Association, the average age of golfers in China is around 36 years old, and the majority of golfers come from middle-class backgrounds. Additionally, more and more women are taking up the sport, with the number of female golfers in China increasing by 12% in 2020.

Overall, the popularity of golf in China is on the rise, with an increasing number of golfers, golf club memberships, and a broader demographic of players.

Golf Tournaments and Events

Professional golf tournaments in China

Professional golf tournaments have become increasingly popular in China in recent years. The China Tour, also known as the PGA Tour of China, is a professional golf tour that operates in China and is recognized by the China Golf Association. The tour features both male and female professional golfers from China and other countries, and the winners of the tournaments earn points towards the China Tour Order of Merit.

In addition to the China Tour, there are also several other professional golf tournaments held in China each year. These include the Volvo China Open, the WGC-HSBC Champions, and the BMW Masters. These tournaments attract top professional golfers from around the world and are an important part of the global golfing calendar.

Amateur golf events

Alongside professional golf tournaments, amateur golf events are also popular in China. The China Golf Association (CGA) is responsible for organizing and administering amateur golf events in China. The CGA hosts a number of national championships each year, including the Chinese Amateur Open, the Chinese Women’s Amateur Open, and the Chinese Senior Amateur Open.

In addition to the national championships, there are also many regional and local amateur golf events held throughout China each year. These events provide opportunities for amateur golfers to compete against each other and to develop their skills.

International golf events held in China

China has also become an increasingly popular destination for international golf events. The WGC-HSBC Champions, which is held in Shanghai, is a World Golf Championships event that attracts many of the world’s top professional golfers. The tournament is played over two courses, the Shanghai GC and the Huancheng GC, and it offers a prize fund of over $10 million.

In addition to the WGC-HSBC Champions, China has also hosted the BMW Masters, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and the Volvo China Open, among others. These international golf events provide opportunities for Chinese golfers to compete against the best players in the world and to showcase their skills to a global audience.

Challenges and Opportunities for Golf in China

Environmental Concerns

Water Usage and Conservation

One of the major environmental concerns associated with golf courses in China is water usage and conservation. Golf courses, particularly those in arid regions, are notorious for their high water consumption, which puts a strain on local water resources. To address this issue, many golf courses in China have implemented water-saving technologies, such as recycling systems and drought-resistant grasses. However, there is still a need for more efficient irrigation systems and better management practices to reduce water usage and promote conservation.

Land Use and Environmental Impact

Another environmental concern related to golf courses in China is land use and environmental impact. Golf courses often require large areas of land, which can lead to habitat destruction and loss of natural ecosystems. Additionally, the use of pesticides and fertilizers on golf courses can pollute nearby water sources and harm wildlife. To mitigate these impacts, some golf courses in China have implemented integrated pest management strategies and used environmentally friendly landscaping practices. However, there is still a need for more sustainable land use practices to minimize the environmental impact of golf courses.

Sustainable Golf Course Design and Management

Sustainable golf course design and management is crucial to addressing environmental concerns in China. Golf courses can be designed to minimize their environmental footprint by incorporating features such as natural habitat preservation, native plant species, and stormwater management systems. Additionally, sustainable management practices such as integrated pest management, efficient irrigation systems, and eco-friendly maintenance equipment can help reduce the environmental impact of golf courses. However, there is still a need for more education and awareness among golf course owners and managers about the importance of sustainable design and management practices.

Competition from Other Sports

While golf has experienced a surge in popularity in China over the past decade, it faces significant competition from other sports. The popularity of soccer and basketball in the country is undeniable, and these sports have a strong presence in the Chinese sports landscape.

Additionally, China is a country that embraces emerging sports, and the rapid growth of sports such as badminton, table tennis, and cycling has created a highly competitive sports environment. This has posed a challenge for golf, which must contend with these emerging sports for public interest and support.

Furthermore, golf’s ability to compete with other sports for public interest is also affected by its accessibility and infrastructure. Unlike soccer or basketball, golf requires a significant investment in terms of course development and maintenance, which can limit its growth potential in certain regions. Additionally, the cost of equipment and membership fees can also be a barrier for potential golfers, particularly in less affluent areas of the country.

Overall, while golf has made significant strides in China, it must continue to face the challenges posed by other sports in order to maintain its growth and popularity in the country.

Golf’s Future in China

Opportunities for growth and development

  • The rapid expansion of the Chinese middle class has created a growing market for golf, with an increasing number of people seeking out high-quality golf courses and experiences.
  • The Chinese government’s focus on developing the country’s tourism industry has led to a greater emphasis on golf as a key component of the tourism offering, with the construction of new courses and the promotion of golf as a key attraction for international visitors.
  • The growth of the sport in China has also been supported by increased investment from major golf companies and brands, who see the potential for significant growth in the Chinese market.

Potential for increased participation and membership

  • As the sport becomes more popular, there is a growing demand for golf clubs and courses, which presents an opportunity for developers and investors to build new facilities and attract new members.
  • The development of new golf courses and the expansion of existing clubs can help to drive participation and membership, as well as increase the sport’s profile and visibility in China.
  • Additionally, the introduction of new initiatives and programs aimed at encouraging participation and membership, such as beginner-friendly programs and discounted membership options, can help to drive growth in the sport.

The role of technology in enhancing the golf experience

  • Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the golf industry, with the development of new equipment, training aids, and software tools that can help players to improve their skills and enjoy the sport more fully.
  • In China, the adoption of technology in golf is being driven by a growing interest in sports science and data analysis, as well as a desire to improve the overall golf experience for players.
  • This includes the use of golf simulators, which allow players to practice and play virtual rounds of golf, as well as the development of smart clubs and other high-tech equipment that can help players to track their performance and improve their game.


1. How many people play golf in China?

As of 2021, it is estimated that there are around 20 million golfers in China. This number has been steadily increasing over the past few years, as more and more people take up the sport.

2. What is the popularity of golf in China compared to other countries?

Golf is a very popular sport in China, with a large and growing number of golfers. In fact, China has more golfers than any other country in the world, and the number is continuing to rise.

3. Are there many golf courses in China?

Yes, there are many golf courses in China. In fact, the country has over 800 golf courses, with more being built all the time. This is due in part to the popularity of the sport, as well as the government’s efforts to promote golf as a way to boost tourism and the economy.

4. Who are the most successful golfers in China?

There have been many successful golfers from China, both on the national and international stages. Some of the most notable include Yani Tseng, who is a multiple major champion on the LPGA tour, and Liang Wen-chong, who has won several times on the European Tour.

5. What is the future of golf in China?

The future of golf in China is bright. The sport is continuing to gain in popularity, and the government is supporting its development. In addition, there are many talented golfers coming up through the ranks, so it is likely that China will continue to be a major force in the world of golf for many years to come.

What’s Golf In China Like? Golf In China vs. Golf In The West (USA) – 中国高尔夫球

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