In preparation for the launch of his book The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream, Dan Washburn will be giving a presentation and talk at The Bookworm tomorrow night (Nov 5). Head over to learn about how golf is intimately linked to corruption within Chinese politics, a topic which has never been more relevant following Xi Jinping's push to eradicate tigers and flies from his political environment. 

Below is an interview we conducted with the author back in June, here relayed in full:

Perhaps no activity has encapsulated China’s rags-to-riches rise over the past three decades better than golf. Like many foreign ideas, goods, and services, it entered China after a 30-plus-year absence in the 1980s, and has been emblematic of a country growing wealthy, but has also embodied its struggles, including property rights, the divide between rich and poor, and lately, enduring the downside of the anti-corruption campaign.

“Golf is a symbol of corruption, rural land rights disputes, environmental neglect, the growing gap between rich and poor, and a shrinking supply of arable land. In many ways golf, and the complex world that surrounds it in China, is a microcosm of the contradictory country as a whole,” said Dan Washburn, the book’s author and managing editor at The Asia Society.

So what’s maintaining the game in China if building courses and playing here is so difficult?

“Money. Interest in golf and new golf courses has been on the wane in many parts of the world. China, on the other hand, is seen as an untapped market. Big international tournaments are welcomed by local government officials in China because of the tax revenues they bring in, and foreign brands – especially luxury brands – see the events as good platforms for reaching China’s rich. It’s in the construction of golf courses where things get a bit tricky,” Washburn writes.

Despite facing far more hurdles than other sports, golf will likely continue to grow in China.

“The first generation of Chinese golfers who have spent their entire lives playing the game (mostly rich kids) is just starting to come of age. And now that, for the first time in more than a century, golf will be an Olympic sport in 2016, these young Chinese stars-in-the-making have the full support of the Chinese government.

No other government is putting more money into developing its elite young golfers than China, and since Olympic eligibility will be dictated by world-ranking points, China will make every effort to get its best golfers playing on the international circuits,” Washburn said.

Golfers will love reading about the game’s evolution in China, and even China hands who have no interest in golf will chuckle at how Chinese something foreign can become once it lands on these shores. This is a delightful read that can be enjoyed this summer in between time on the links, or make a holiday gift later in the year.

The Forbidden Game was published July 15 by One World Publications, and is available from Amazon and other online booksellers.

Photos: Courtesy of Ellen Wallop and Oneworld Publications,

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog