What is the state of indoor golfing in China?
Indoor golf ismainly concentrated in Shenzhen, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai, as they represent the largest centres of Chinese golf players. The largest indoor golfing facility in China is Dingtai, a 3.2 square km center with digital 18-hole courses and a host of both public and private “ranges”.
Most of these centres are priced quite highly, though various group-voucers and offers lower the entry barrier considerably. A golfing “package” involving lessons and a round on the electronic course can cost as much as 1,200 RMB. Surveys have suggested that the electronic version of golf appeals more to the average consumer than the real course, as it is less stressful and more convenient.
The largest potential for indoor golfing venues appears to lie in developing the centres that offer a complete experience;golfing combined with food, drink, entertainment, as well as English lessons for young children. Also, a growing number of parents are investing in lessons (which can cost as much as 300 RMB per hour) as they believe it could help them with their future careers by giving them a sense of perceived Western “class.”
On the other hand, indoor minigolf is cheaper (costing less than 100RMB for a round per person) and more popular, though still a niche activity and seen more as a curiosity than a legitimate past time.
What about the overall golf industry?
The golf industry in China was valued at about 6.5 billion RMB in 2013, and it’s been experiencing roughly a 10% growth rater YOY since then. While there’s not much reliable information available specifically related to golfing equipment, it does account for about 22% of Asia-Pacific’s sport equipment market, though most of that is in basketball, volleyball and other sports. However, overall, Asia’s golf equipment is expected to double 2010 levels within the next five years.
It’s hard to tell exactly how many golfers there are in China, some estimates put it at over 2.2 million, with rough yearly player growth of about 15%. It’s hard to tell since some golfers fall off very quickly and others are not registered with any official clubs, but the number of regular players seem to fall around the 1 million mark.
An interesting note is that, although building golf courses is nominally banned in China due to its effect on the surrounding environment and the sport’s association with corruption and decadence, some reports suggest that as many as 400 new golf courses have been built in the last 10 years.