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SBD Global/April 15, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Chinese Golfer Guan Tianlang Is Face Of China's 'New Affluent Class'

Guan Tianlang finished the Masters at 12-over par.
Fourteen-year-old Chinese golfer GUAN TIANLANG's background "is far from the typical rags-to-riches, product of a state sporting system story usually preferred by the Communist party," according to Robinson & Zhu of FINANCIAL TIMES. And that "has not escaped the notice of many Chinese social media users." His achievement "drew the usual congratulations and expressions of national pride on Weibo." Those who saw a different significance in Guan's success in capitalism's favorite game said on Weibo, "This is rich people's playthings." Another user said, "He has got to be a rich family kid." The plush surroundings of Lion Lake Country Club in Guangzhou, where Guan took up the game "are indeed in stark contrast to the bare walls of the government academies where China churns out its Olympians." The course "is a playground for China's swelling country club class." A single weekend round at the club "costs about a quarter of the province's average monthly salary." Golf Digest's Hong Kong edition Reporter SUSAN HUANG said that "Guan Tianlang is part of a new generation of teenage golfers in China." As a new affluent class has grown in China over the past two decades, "so too has the popularity of golf." Amid controversy over shady land deals, "the government has repeatedly tried to ban the construction of new courses at times." But that "has done little to stymie the growth of the sport" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/12).
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