St Andrews Links Trust goes Far East to drive golf in China ...

Golf's popularity in China was sealed when Ye Wo Cheng became the youngest golfer to qualify for a European Tour at the age of 12 last year. (Picture from Volvo Golf)
Golf's popularity in China was sealed when Ye Wo Cheng became the youngest golfer to qualify for a European Tour at the age of 12 last year. (Picture from Volvo Golf)

China - one of the fastest growing economies in the world, transformed over the last few years from a secretive society to a country out there competing across the world.

The country has loved our whisky for years, and now another Scottish tradition is taking off in the Far East.

Golf is proving so popular in China that it is estimated that one new golf course will open every 12 days for the next 20 years to cope with demand - expected to grow to about 20 million players by 2020.

And the Home of Golf has moved in to capitalise on that with a presence at last weekend’s Beijing PGA Merchandise Show, China’s largest golf expo, for the first time. The show regularly attracts more than 20,000 visitors .

St Andrews Link Trust joined a clutch of companies at the show, promoting their recently announced plans to license a golf academy in Simapo Island, Hainan, the Trust’s first venture into a foreign market.

They were joined by Elmwood College, which has been involved in golf education in China for 14 years. And delegates were able to take selfies with the Open Championship’s Claret Jug, on loan from the R&A.

Scottish Enterprise’s head of tourism, Graeme White, commented: “This is our first foray into what we expect to become a key growth market for Scottish companies, both by attracting Chinese visitors Scotland and by distributing our products and technology in this vast market.

“Our objective for our first show in China is to sell Scotland as a package.

“Scotland is the Home of Golf, but we have much more to offer, including stunning scenery and castles, sophisticated cities and outdoor adventure.

“The 17 companies on the stand will work together to showcase our heritage, resources and expertise.”

The team also staged a series of seminars with speakers including Steve Otto from the R&A, Visit Scotland’s Mike Cantlay and Scottish Enterprise’s head of tourism Graeme White.

The team promoting golf in Scotland were well versed in dealing with the Chinese delegates, having received training on doing business in China, the country’s culture and etiquette.