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China begins enforcement of golf course ban

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

What will become of golf courses in China? (Getty Images)
What will become of golf courses in China? (Getty Images)

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You thought the brown turf at Pinehurst No. 2 was an issue.

That's nothing compared to what's happening in China right now. According to this excellent Reuters article the Chinese government is cracking down on a ban that was imposed in 2004 that no new golf courses could be built in China.

Five courses in China were recently demolished or taken over and converted into other entities by Chinese authorities.

But why the ban?

"The ban was imposed to protect China's shrinking land and water resources in a country home to a fifth of the world's population but which has just 7 percent of its water. The only place exempt is the southern resort island of Hainan."

That makes sense but it's still unfortunate for a country actively trying to grow the sport of golf for its younger populations.

Developers in the country have often skirted around the "no new golf courses" rule by labeling their projects something without the word golf in them but the government seems to be catching on.

According to the article water consumption has become a real concern for the Chinese.

"The crackdown could be more serious now because of China's pollution crisis, developers said. One of the reasons for the 2004 ban was because the high use of fertiliser and pesticide to grow grass for golf courses was causing water pollution.

"'The way many golf courses are built and managed has a negative impact on the environment,' said Ma Jun, a director at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, a non-governmental organisation."

Which brings us back to Pinehurst. The redesign of No. 2 has created a situation in which it went from using 55 million gallons of water a year to just 15 million. That's a strong step for one of the most popular courses in a country that uses two billion gallons of water a day on golf courses.

Maybe the solution for the Chinese isn't "no new courses at all" but rather less greenery on the ones that are actually built.

I'm not totally sure what the answer is but I'm pretty sure it's not what is happening in China right now.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

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