Golf in China is a growing industry, with numerous golf courses being established, especially in the province of Hainan. There are around 358,000 core players (aged over 18 and play more than 8 rounds a year) among Chinese population, with a growth rate of 7.5%. That figure is projected to grow to about 20 million by 2020. For the general public, golf is considered to be prohibitively expensive. However, it is seen as the top recreational sport for businesspeople and officials.
The sport attracts both foreign investment and overseas golfers, who come from such countries as South Korea, Australia, and Japan for the relatively inexpensive fees.
China's first regularly scheduled tournament was the 2004 BMW Asian Open. In 2005, the Volvo China Open was held in China, followed by the HSBC Champions in 2006.
Despite a ban in 2004 that limits the number of golf courses in China due to environmental impact concerns, the number has more than tripled since 2004. At that time, only 170 courses existed. By 2009 there were almost 600. Around 2008, growth rate of the golf industry is 25 to 30 percent per year. In 2011, the rate was moderated by a much larger base, decreased to 7.5% (45 new courses). The number of courses rose further to 683 by January 2017, when the government ordered 111 of them closed due to water and land conservation concerns. At that time, all of China's province-level divisions except Tibet had at least one course in operation.
At the 2007 National People's Congress, acknowledging that the construction of new golf courses is not only a waste of public money, but also an illegal use of space, Premier Wen Jiabao said to the Congress that contracts in building new golf courses should be highly discouraged. The government currently imposes a 24 percent tax on golf clubs. In October 2015, the Chinese Communist Party banned all its members from joining golf clubs among other displays of extravagance as part of China's anti-corruption campaign. Several months later, the party clarified its position in an editorial in China Daily, stating that party members were not to accept free memberships or rounds.
Green fees and memberships in China are often expensive relative to developed nations. Average green fees for non-members are usually at least $100 USD, and often far more expensive. For example, at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, home to the BMW Asian Open on the European Tour, the initiation fee $170,000 with $1,800 a year dues. Condos sell for $22 million. The green fee for guest golfers is $125 plus caddie on weekdays, and $180 plus caddie on weekends. At that particular club, however, out of the 700 members, 300 are from overseas. At Shanghai's Sheshan International Golf Club where such tournaments as the HSBC Champions is played, the initiation fee is $230,000.
There are currently about 500 golf courses in the country, the first of which was constructed in 1984. Mission Hills is one of the leading firms, owning courses around the country. Its Mission Hills Golf Club near Shenzhen has 12 courses, making it the world's largest golfing complex.
|Club or course name||Province||Year opened||Holes||Notes|
|Hong Kong Golf Club||Hong Kong||1889||63|
|Mission Hills Shenzhen||Shenzhen||1992||216||With twelve courses, it was the world's largest golf facility in 2004|
|Mission Hills Haikou||Hainan||180||When fully built out, the resort will have 22 courses (396 holes).|
|Sheshan Golf Club||Shanghai|
|Yalong Bay Golf Club||Hainan|
|Caesars Macau||Macau||Owned by Caesars Entertainment Corporation|
|Tournament||Established||Final year||Prize fund||Notes|
|World Cup||1953||US$7,500,000||First held in China in 1995; China hosted from 2007 to 2011.|
|Pine Valley Beijing Open||2007||2008||US$1,200,000||Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour|
|BMW Asian Open||2001||2008||US$2,300,000||Asian Tour and European Tour|
|Grand China Air LPGA||2007||2008||$1,800,000||LPGA Tour|
|Luxehills Chengdu Open||2008||2010||US$1,000,000||Omega China Tour and OneAsia Tour|
|Midea China Classic||2007||2010||US$1,000,000||OneAsia Tour|
|Mission Hills Star Trophy||2010||US$1,200,000|
|Qingdao Golf Open||2008||2008||US$500,000||Challenge Tour|
|Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open||2008||2013||EUR350,000||Ladies European Tour and Ladies Asian Golf Tour|
|TCL Classic||2002||2007||US$1,000,000||Asian Tour and European Tour|
|Volkswagen Masters-China||2004||2006||US$300,000||Asian Tour|
|Volvo China Open||1995||RMB20,000,000||European Tour, OneAsia Tour, Asian Tour|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||2005||US$9,750,000||PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour|
Numerous world-class players have emerged from China, including:
Under construction since 2006, the Mission Hills Haikou is a multibillion-dollar project. This 80 km² complex (1.5 times the size of Manhattan), opened in 2011, will contain 22 golf courses and luxury hotels when fully built out. It will be one of the largest golf complexes in the world. The resort hosted of the World Cup in 2011.