"Golf courses are infrastructure," says architect Brian Curley, who has developed more than 40 courses in the country. Since golf courses stimulate their surrounding economies, villages welcome them—and the local government always gets a cut.
The new tour is all part of the CGA's Olympics strategy: If China's golfers can be as successful as its gymnasts and swimmers when the sport returns to the Games in 2016, the CGA will likely win major support from the government, including a significant increase in funding.
China is home to 1.4 billion people, only 400,000 of whom consider themselves golfers. As that number grows, so too does the PGA's sponsorship revenue. In 2013, the tour inked its first China-specific contract, with more to follow this year.
With the markets in the U.S. and Europe almost completely saturated, China represents golf's biggest growth opportunity—and with sales directly correlated to professional usage, apparel and equipment companies are clamoring to get their products on Chinese players.
[Illustration by Ben Wiseman]