China Sings ‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Golf ball near the green

Kelyn Struiksma  |  Contributing Writer

Just over a week ago, Jordan Spieth was awarded the green jacket after his impressive 18 under par performance at the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club.

With a final score of 270 after 72 holes of play, the 21-year-old tied Tiger Woods’ record for the lowest score in tournament history, according to ESPN. Going 18 under par at his second round of golf in Augusta, Georgia, Spieth is the second youngest athlete to have won the Tournament of the Masters, and his career is only beginning.

However, as America’s attention is toward celebrating golf and Spieth’s newest accomplishment, China is looking to ban the game, according to The Huffington Post.

Xi Jinping, the current president of China, has made great efforts to minimize the vice and corruption in his country. He has already cracked down on drugs, prostitution, gambling and wealth, while recently deciding to add the greatest game on grass to his to-do list.

No country has built more golf courses than China over the past decade, but on March 30, The New York Times reported that the National Development and Reform Commission announced how “66 illegally constructed golf courses in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and 20 provinces had been closed.”

These actions have been implemented by the Chinese government to shut down its courses and help to carry out the ban and monitor the country’s limited amount of environmental resources.

Party officials have been forbidden to golf during work hours and the provincial anti-corruption agency has set up a hotline for those to call when violations against the specific government regulations occur. This ban includes the prohibition of betting on the game, being on the boards of country clubs, socializing on the course with a professional agenda and traveling on golf-related trips.

“Like fine liquor and tobacco, fancy cars and mansions, golf is a public relations tool that businessmen use to hook officials,” wrote the party’s anti-graft agency in its newspaper published on April 9. “The golf course is gradually changing into a muddy field where they trade money for power.”

Golf faced a harsh crackdown in China when the Communist Party came to power in 1949 under the rule of Mao Zedong, who had condemned the game because he viewed it as a rich man’s sport.

For decades, the love the game was lost. Even though there is no sufficient data to determine the current number of athletes who frequent the course, it is estimated that over a million tee-off in China on a regular basis.

Dan Washburn, author of “The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream,” said the restriction was not surprising, given the game’s past reputation.

“This is Xi Jinping’s China, and it’s clear he’s intent on making his mark,” Washburn said. “Everyone’s a potential target in this ongoing crackdown on corruption, and golf is a particularly easy and obvious one.”

There are many criticisms of these restricting efforts of the party, as little harm or corruption actually happens throughout the course’s 18 holes.

On Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, Lin Xiang, a golf coach in Shanghai, wrote: “Around the world so many officials and even presidents play golf. Why is it that in one certain country that when an official plays golf, he’s corrupt? There are alternate realities in China. One day you’ll read headlines about a war on golf, and the next you’ll hear about China’s future Olympic golf stars.”

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