While the building of golf courses has been banned in China and the pastime branded a “sport for millionaires”, it’s now being made compulsory in some schools as a means of teaching students etiquette and manners.
Last year, a school in the wealthy city of Shanghai became the first to compel seven and eight-year-old children to take golf lessons, with the headmaster insisting the sport is “an important social skill for them to step towards international society”.
Now Jingwulu Primary School in Jinan, Shandong provice, has also introduced the sport to “foster children’s strong determination, self-discipline and manners,” said headmistress Ji Yankun.
“I don’t think I am being over dramatic in calling it a gentleman’s sport, as there is so much good etiquette involved,” she added.
Golf was labeled a “sport for millionaires” when Tao Tse-tung tok power in 1949, and has long been vilified by China’s Communist rulers who see the sport of a symbol of corruption and excess.
The construction of new golf courses was banned in 2004, but numbers have increased from less than 200 to almost 700, according to the Telegraph.
Jingwulu Primay School has installed coaches from Shandong Gold Golf Club to provide compulsory lessons for its nine-year-old students.
The club is also said to be in discussions with four other schools.
Jiang Chunqiu of Shandong Gold called the sport “green opium”, a phrase sometimes used in China to describe golf as a highly enjoyable and addictive foreign import.
Chinese parents have traditionally only been focused on their children attaining good grades, but more are now signing their kids up for expensive extra-curricular classes that are thought to improve temperament and manners, such as ballet and golf.
It certainly worked for Tiger Woods.