Golf business prospects in China

By: June 10, 2013

Back in February this year I wrote about the prediction of HSBC on the future of golf. In that post I wrote about a shift toward Asia. As reading McKinsey's latest report on China, I see a great growth opportunities in China for the golf industry. The upper middle class is likely to grow sixfold until 2022:

Chinese upper middle class in 2022

Urbanization of China is also moving forward by 2020 850 million Chinese will live in towns (in 2010 it was cca. 650 million people). As we can see Chinese middle class will expand, reducing the relative importance of the rich (=affluent) and the poor in the country’s consumption profile. 

Dispite of all these positive development in China, I am surprised to read that in the last 3 years golf course development is going down. In 2010, 52 golf courses were built, in 2011 "only" 45 and last year 39. In total there are 587 golf courses in China and 3 million golfers. So we can say that in last year 1.72% (more or less) of the Chinese middle class played golf.

May be we should not run forward to generate more  developments, but rather "populate" our golf courses and golf academies. Other possible scenarios:

  • Growth of golf in China (+wishful thinking) is overestimated;
  • Let's start to think realistically about how to turn golf to a popular sport as volleyball, badminton or basketball. 

Here are some initiatives:

Finally, I hope the victory of the 14-year-old Andy Zhang will get enough coverage and support to promote golf in his generation. Andy Zhang became the youngest player (sponsored by HSBC) ever to qualify for a major at the US Open. The 16-year-old amateur Jing Yan became the youngest Chinese female golfer to ever play in a major tournament when she appeared at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Liverpool.