The first China International Golf Conference was held in Beijing last month, organised by Golf Magazine (China) and China Links Golf Consulting, headed by George Peper, former chief editor of Golf Magazine. Some 200 attendees included potential golf course developers, club owners and students in golf management skills.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has long taken an interest in this expanding market. The Elmwood College -China-Scotland Partnership started in 2000 and has just received a pledge of a further £400,000 over three years to continue its education programme.
It was therefore entirely appropriate that the conference should be addressed by Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A on “China and the Global Community of Golf”.
Mr Dawson covered several aspects of the game in his presentation, not least the importance of affordable and sustainable golf – very appropriate in a country where the market is booming. At present there are some 300 courses in China and this number is predicted to rise to over 500 by 2010, with the need to attract foreign tourists a key objective.
Seven golf course architects were chosen by the organisers for the quality of their designs and their interest in working in China. They were Mike DeVries, Dana Fry of Hurdzan Fry, Don Knott of Knott Brooks Linn, Mark McCumber, Kyle Phillips, Baxter Spann and Peter Thomson. All made brief presentations of their crafts and private meetings were arranged for them to have direct dialogue with local developers.
Some lessons on errors in the development of the industry were evoked. The emphasis of the Conference was directed towards growing the number of players in line with the growth in the number of facilities.