Mission Hills founder and chairman Dr David Chu is challenging the Americans' status as the most powerful people in golf since he broke into the top-10 figureheads worldwide in the sport.
Chu rose from 16th to ninth on Golf Inc.'s annual list of the 'Most Powerful People in Golf', the largest jump since the magazine began the rankings. Chu is also the highest ranked non-American on the list, which is headed for a fifth successive year by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. Tiger Woods comes in at number four. It is only the second year movers and shakers from outside the US have been included.
The 35 individuals on the list were chosen for their ability to influence the development of courses and communities, the operation of courses, the equipment used by golfers and the rules and administration of the game.
'This is truly a worldwide list, reflecting the changing nature of the industry as more and more countries embrace the game,' said Golf Inc. associate publisher Chase Peckham.
'It is probably no exaggeration to say that Chu is the man most responsible for China's golf boom. In addition to the 12 courses, residential and resort amenities at Mission Hills, Chu spearheaded the agreement to hold the World Cup tournament for the next 12 years,' the magazine says.
Chu, 58, said: 'This award is strong evidence our efforts to grow golf in China are on the right track. We're spreading the game through a multi-faceted approach. This includes bringing professional tournaments to Mission Hills, supporting a host of junior golf initiatives, inviting golf greats for clinics, and employing the most respected swing instructors. It's all part of a broader long-range plan to make golf the premier sport not only in China, but throughout the world.'
A Hong Kong native, Chu was one of the first entrepreneurs to invest in the mainland in the late 1970s. Sixteen years later, Mission Hills' 12 courses make it the world's largest golf club and a powerful player on the global golf scene.
A firm believer in cross-cultural education programmes for academic advancement, Chu has supported many institutions of higher learning in China, Hong Kong and overseas.
Earlier this year, he established 'Dr David Chu's Care Fund for Orphans' in response to the Sichuan earthquake. Chu and Mission Hills raised more than US$3 million for victims of the tragedy. Over the past decade, Mission Hills has contributed to those in need, including victims of the February 2008 blizzards in southern China, the 2006 and 2005 floods in southern China and the 2003 Sars outbreak in Hong Kong.