China’s first golf course was built in 1984 and although around 500 more have sprung up since, a six-year-old government ban on new development has slowed growth.
The US, by contrast, has around 18,000 courses, while Europe has an estimated 6,000, leading some to question whether the facilities exist to support a boom in Chinese golf.
CGA vice president Wang Liwei said, "The existing 500 courses are enough for the basic development of golf. No matter how many courses there are – 500, 1,000 or 10,000 – it is a sport of players. We are also taking alternate measures, such as building driving ranges in public green spaces."
China banned the building of new courses in 2004 because of concerns over the illegal procurement of vast tracts of farmland by some developers.
CGA vice president Wang Liwei, who is also a government official, said, "We resolutely abide by the government policy of saving farmland. However, there is still some wasteland or barren land that could be used to build golf courses."
Reuters reports that playing is still, however, prohibitively expensive for all but the richest Chinese. According to a KPMG report joining a club cost an average of $53,000 in 2008.