Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

More than 100 Chinese golf courses ordered shut in graft crackdown on ‘elite’ sport

Since 2011, 111 of China’s 683 golf courses – regarded as venues for shady deal making between the elite and politicians – have been ordered to shut

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 11:17am

China has ordered the closure of a sixth of the country’s golf courses since 2011, its top economic planner said, in an ongoing crackdown on a sport that is controversial for its links with the wealthy elite.

The ruling Communist Party has an ambivalent relationship with golf.

Local authorities have profited from selling land for courses, but they are seen as venues for shady deal-making between the elite and politicians.

Central authorities ordered a nationwide freeze on new golf courses in 2004, which was largely ignored.

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Since a fresh crackdown was launched in 2011, 111 of China’s 683 golf courses nationwide had been ordered to shut, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the central planning agency, said in a statement posted on its website on Sunday.

Operators had voluntarily closed an additional 11 golf course, it added.

Courses were taken to task for illegally building on arable land or nature reserves, extracting groundwater in prohibited areas, and other violations.

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The NDRC also ordered an additional 18 courses to return illegally occupied land, as well as 47 others to stop further construction.

Golf courses were located in all of the China’s provincial-level regions except Tibet, the NDRC said.

The country boasts world-class fairways and an emerging crop of young players, but expensive club memberships mean that only a tiny minority of mainlanders have actually swung a golf club.

In 2015, the country’s 88 million Communist Party members were banned from joining golf clubs in a corruption crackdown, which also targeted banquets and lavish gift-giving.