Peking University has cancelled plans to build a driving range and offer golf as a course after the proposal triggered criticism among mainland netizens. University president Xu Zhihong said the unexpected debate had forced him to abandon the plan, the Beijing Morning Post said. Mr Xu said it would be 'too sensitive' to say if he would later revive the project. The university announcement in August to build a driving range prompted complaints that golf was too elitist for the mainland, where millions still live in rural poverty. More than two decades of economic reforms have turned the nation into an economic powerhouse, but also created serious social problems. The widening of the wealth gap is often reflected in growing animosity among the underprivileged towards the rich. Mr Xu said the university proposed to add only a driving range to an existing sports ground, and he had never expected the idea to spark so much criticism. 'Some people criticised the idea, saying that it's not suitable for universities to build golf courses because of scarcity of land,' Mr Xu was quoted as saying. 'But the size of our practice area would have been no bigger than a football field.' Although he has never played golf, Mr Xu questioned if it was fair to label it as an elitist sport. 'In the past, some people would say tennis was an elitist sport. But now every university has tennis courts.' Peking University was the first of two universities to propose golf lessons for business students to prepare them for a commercial world where deals are often made on the course. President Zhu Chongshi of Xiamen University in Fujian has said the school would build the country's 'most beautiful' golf course. Construction has reportedly already begun.