Golf in China
Though reserved almost exclusively for the relatively wealthy, golf in China is a rapidly growing sport. In fact, China is one of the few countries globally still building courses, with new ones popping up regularly all around the country, even though new courses are all built in contravention of a 2004 government-mandated moratorium on golf course construction and thus technically illegal.
While accurate numbers are hard to come by in China, the China Golf Association estimates that there are about 500 courses in the country; however, they are not heavily used in most cases. Some estimates put the number of golfers per course as low as 600. In contrast, Japan may have as many as 10,000 golfers per course.
Similarly difficult to ascertain is the actual number of golfers in China. Figures in this regard come in as low as 300,000 or as high as three million. Even three million golfers is only 0.2% of the population, however, which is tiny compared to the 7% seen in Japan. Most analysts thus predict steady growth in the years to come.
Golf in Shanghai
The exclusivity of golf in China is perhaps felt most acutely in Shanghai, where membership fees regularly top USD100,000 – if you can get in, as the most exclusive clubs have restricted membership numbers or have closed applications altogether.
That isn’t to say, however, that the sport is entirely elitist. There are affordable courses open to the public and even some of the top ones allow non-members to play on weekdays. The city has a number of driving ranges which aren’t too busy and there are a few indoor places with simulators that offer a fun option for a night out with friends.
As in other countries, golf in Shanghai is often used to develop business relationships. Remember, however, that while demonstrating your prowess on the course will likely earn you the respect of your Chinese business associate, dealing them a crushing defeat will cause them to lose face and probably hurt the deal.
Golf equipment in Shanghai is noticeably more expensive than in Western countries and while the fakes sold in the markets may satisfy the occasional golfer, avid players will want to bring their own set of clubs to Shanghai.
Shanghai Country Club
This 7025-yard par-72 Robert Trent Jones designed course was the first of its kind when it opened in Shanghai in 1990. Though it’s private and exclusive, non-members can play as “introduced guests”.
961 Yingzhu Lu, Zhujiajiao, Qingpu District
Shanghai Golf Club
Challenging 7100-yard course with water in play on 16 holes.
3765 Jiahang Highway, by Shuangliu Lu, Shuangtang Village, Tangxing, Jiading District
Shanghai Agile Binhai Golf Club
Peter Thompson-designed par-72 links course with 36 holes and more to come. Visitors can play on weekdays.
Dongda Highway, Nanhui, Pudong
Shanghai Agile Binhai Golf Club on Facebook
Tomson Pudong Golf Club
Home of the Asia Tour BMW open, Tomson is, not surprisingly, a challenging course. You’ll need to become a member to play or have one accompany you, but it’s worth the effort.
1 Longdong Highway
Hongqiao Golf Club
Public par-33 nine-hole urban course that is floodlit for night play.
555 Hongxu Lu
Sheshan Golf Club
Home to the PGA HSBC World Golf Championship, Sheshan is private, exclusive and luxurious.
Lane 288, Linyin Da Dao, by Jiasong Nan Lu
Sun Island Golf & Hot Spring Resorts
A decent public course about an hour’s drive from Shanghai with water hazards galore and villas for rent at a reasonable price if you want to make a weekend out of it.
2588 Shentai Lu, Zhujiajiao Town
Shanghai Links Golf Club
Set in the confines of a recreated typical American suburb, this Jack Nicklaus-designed links course is known for its breathtaking views of the South China Sea.
1600 Lingbai Lu, Pudong
Lake Malaren Golf Club
Another Jack Nicklaus-designed course about 40 minutes from downtown. Visitors are permitted.
6655 Hutai Lu, in 9 Melianhu Lu, Baoshan District
Shanghai Silport David Leadbetter Golf Academy
Driving range with pro shop near Huacao.
1366 Huqingping Highway