Teen Golf Prodigies Guan Tianlang And Ye Wocheng Pave Golf's Future In China
When 14-year-old Chinese golfer Guan Tianlang competed at The Masters, he became "the youngest player to compete in a major championship," according to XINHUA. Weeks later, 12-year-old Ye Wocheng "became the youngest player to compete" in the Volvo China Open, part of the European Tour. China Golf Association Deputy Secretary General Song Yingchun said that Guan and Ye "represent a growing community" of junior golfers in China. The CGA launched the China Junior Golf Program in '06, "aiming to introduce golf to Chinese youngsters through tournaments and training camps." Only 31 children across the country "signed up its first tournament" in '07. The program "has since caught on." The junior tournament in '12 "attracted more than 800 kids from the Chinese mainland." Experts say that "one of the biggest obstacles facing the sport's development in China" is the lack of public golf courses. Construction of courses "has come in for strong public criticism over their alleged encroachment of farmland and excessive use of water." The State Council, China's cabinet, "has suspended approvals of golf course projects" since '04. Beijing Forestry University Golf Education Dir Han Liebao said that "the government should take the lead in building public golf courses." Han: "The government should grant preferential policies in taxes and prices for public courses to make golf more affordable for ordinary people" (XINHUA, 5/7).