Just barely a couple of decades ago you would have been hard pressed to name more than five Asian players on the pro tour. And indeed, there were only a few major golf competitions that were played anywhere in Asia. But today things have changed somewhat, golf is booming in Asia and is one of the fastest growing sports in the region. But why is this? Have Asians really just found their love for golf?
It is undeniable and some would say unavoidable that golf seems to be moving East, and there are a number of contributory factors that are making this happen.
A Change in Society
Many countries have strong and rapidly growing economies in Asia, and therefore there is a change in the demographics of wealth. There is now a growing middle class in many Asian countries and their economic performance is overshadowing that of the West and supposedly developed countries.
A look at the statistics of the growth in GDP between 2008 and 2012 highlights this fact, especially if you compare it to Western economies over the same period.
- China 9.26% – USA 0.58%
- India 6.48% – EU -0.24%
- Thailand 4.76% – UK -0.38%
Obviously as the relevant economies grow some do private incomes, and this is important when it comes to golf. Golf is a tricky but fun game to play but it is not the cheapest, and indeed part of its whole attraction is that it is an exclusive pastime.
Many Asian countries like Japan and Thailand see status as an important part of who they are, their peers look up to a successful person and it is part of their culture. Having an expensive car with a trunk full of golf clubs lets other people know just how successful you are.
The Asian Youth Golf Revolution
While it may be true that the growing middle classes of Asia partly see golf as a status symbol, the youth of Asia see it in a completely different light. Young Asians love the sport, it is something new and exciting and schools and colleges are fighting hard to embrace the sport into curriculums.
For instance in certain schools in China golf has been incorporated into free kindergarten programs. Whilst rich families pay vast amounts of money on private golf lessons for their children. China is an interesting example as it is genuinely trying to bring the sport to a wider audience no matter what income the families have.
The idea behind this program is to get the young interested at an early age so they know how to play the game by the time they are grown up and can afford to pay for it themselves.
China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and other Asian countries are plowing money into the golf industry and investing heavily in the sport. And it is predicted that by 2020, China will have over two and a half thousand courses with twenty million people playing golf. This economic pull is the main reason why more Asians are taking up golf, as we have mentioned there are other factors that support this, but one thing is for certain and that is that golf is booming in Asia.