Chinese children ...corporate success
- From: cnw <cnw@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2006 19:32:22 +0800
Chinese children swinging for corporate success
BEIJING, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Chinese golfing prodigy Liu Siyan talks as straight
as the balls he sends flying to the back of the practice fairway.
"I like golf because I'm good at it," the 11-year-old national champion in his
age-group said after teeing off a hundred-odd times at the driving range in
Beijing's Chaoyang Kosaido Golf Club.
"If you play well, you want to come back. If you don't, you want to come back to
It is an attitude pleasing to Liu's coach and to Shenghua Universal Golf
Advisors (SGA), a Chinese company earning a growing share of its income teaching
the children of China's nouveau riche.
"We have had 50 percent growth year on year in students since we started three
years ago," said SGA general manager Lu Ming.
SGA is one of several clinics in Beijing offering weekend classes and
summer-holiday golf camps aimed at getting Chinese hooked on the sport while
Like green fees at the golf courses mushrooming on Beijing's periphery, tuition
is pricey. At around 10,000 yuan ($1,250), a three-month training package costs
more than many Beijingers earn in a year.
Growing numbers of parents, however, regarded proficiency with a putter as an
important investment in their child's career, said Australian Garth Cusick,
SGA's head coach.
"It's all about business," said Cusick, one of four Australian PGA-accredited
coaches at SGA.
"Parents think that, with some skills with golf balls, their children will be
able to meet people in the corporate world they wouldn't normally when entering
With golf hugely popular among China's burgeoning entrepreneurial class, it was
inevitable that more business decisions would be made on the putting green, said
"You look at what has happened in other parts of Asia and the world. The clever
ones know it will also happen here."
Moulding today's children into tomorrow's corporate high flyers was one thing.
Turning talent into trophies was another altogether, Cusick conceded.
Golf was dismissed as a decadent Western pastime under Mao Zedong's rule. Now,
China is hosting six tournaments on the 2006 PGA European tour and has a raft of
sponsors queuing up to be associated with the game.
None of the country's players, however, has challenged on the international
Since Zhang Lianwei, China's most celebrated golfer, became the country's first
to play the U.S. Masters in 2004, few tour event leaderboards have featured
Despite stacking the field, local players reaped less than one percent of total
prize money offered at the mainland's stops on the 2006 European PGA tour. Of 22
Chinese competing in April's China Open, only one made the cut.
Although China has challenged Scotland's claim to have invented the game, its
modern golfing history is short. The sport was banned for decades after China's
Communist Party swept to power in 1949 and China opened its first course in
The game needed time to develop but a dearth of professional coaches and a
traditional emphasis on learning by rote had not helped China's hopes of
producing a champion, Cusick said.
"The countries that dominate the world have the best coaches. That is a fact...
Good golfers come from good coaches and from solid junior development
"How Chinese learn at school, by constant repetition, is not how you play golf.
Golf's not about going through a checklist. That learning style needs to be
For many Beijing parents, however, the most important learning is in the
language and etiquette.
Apart from the benefit of hearing an Australian explain the benefits of a
five-wood over a three-iron from a particular lie -- albeit with translator --
many parents believe that exposing their children to golf's strict rules will
make them more well-rounded individuals, said Li Ming.
"A lot of parents with money want their kids to have the best things in life.
They see golf as a refined sport -- a sport that demands etiquette and a strict
adherence to rules. This could help them later in life."
Liu Siyan, who names Tiger Woods as his hero, could not agree more.
"The kids that play golf are quite well-behaved," he said.
"It's a very high-class sport where only people with money can afford to play
it. I think rich people must be more educated. If they're educated, they should
have better etiquette."
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