Re: Golf course development in China
Are golf courses good, bad or ugly in development?
A HOTELSMag.com reader recently reached out for my opinion on golf course developments in Asia. I thought it was fair to give an honest opinion — after all, if you've read my blogs before you'll see that I tend to be more candid than others. This was my response:
Wow, golf course development is very specific, and I'll apologize in advance for any discouragement I might express following this sentence.
It's true China has a demand for golf courses — much like there's a growing demand for luxury goods and cars, helicopters that can't legally be flown, yachts they don't use and multiple homes that are fully staffed but sit empty. Unfortunately, hotels and golf courses are also starting to fall into this category. Instead of building them because they're needed, they're often being built as amenities to drive residential sales in mixed-use developments — something that's often encouraged by the local governments. If my memory serves me correctly, Hainan Island was boasting plans to build 100 golf courses. As a result, many developers build indiscriminately and focus on how green the grass is when they cut the ribbon (even if they have to spray paint their courses) and less about whether or not the courses will be used two years later.
A growing middle class is one thing, but when there's a massive market of new money searching to touch every part of this planet without thinking about the repercussions, I have to question their intentions. I know I don't sound encouraging, but unless there's a great case for a new golf course, I'd advise against it. Now, how about redeveloping the ones they already have but aren't being utilized?!
That said, I'll definitely let you know if I come across any opportunities. And in the meantime, let's blog about this and see what our industry colleagues think. I'm always happy to be challenged and there may even be an opportunity for you!"
Here's how the reader responded to that reply:
Just as I have found from the blogs you write, there is always such passion behind your writing — I love it! Indeed it will be interesting to read responses from others. In the back of my mind I have an idea about what China looks like by how “Chinese consumers” are described at conferences here in Europe. But what do they really want/use/view as important in terms of leisure and hospitality/leisure/tourism? Sadly, I have not been to China, but it's hard to ignore this superpower when talking/thinking of Asia. All I can rely upon now is what I see and hear through media sources, so thank you for your assessment of the golf industry in China.
I'm concerned with sustainability and social aspects. I know golf courses are hugely demanding on the environment and cause many issues, just like ski resorts. Trouble is, I love being in this end of the industry. I know there are substantial environmental initiatives, especially around water usage (i.e. grasses that are tolerant to brackish water), and across the U.S. efforts have been made for sure, but there is still a lot that can be done, I'm sure.
I wrote back again:
"If you're going to choose the right course for development (excuse the pun), then I'm all for it. I'd still love to know what other opinions are. Let's see!"
Fellow readers, do you want my 2 cents, someone to play devil's advocate, a creative response, general comments or even criticisms? Email me at email@example.com. I may even choose to put your topic and our conversation up for feedback from fellow readers!"
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Craft House Founder and Director, Yvette Jong, contributes regularly to her HOTELS Magazine Blog titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Funky." Topics of discussion include all aspects of hospitality development, operations, branding, marketing, human resources, sustainability and much more.