Letter | New PGA Tour China set for 2014 season

01/26/2014 12:00 AM

01/24/2014 5:48 PM

The anticipated wait for China to create their own PGA Tour is over. PGA Tour China is now set to debut in March, 2014, with a field expected to be between 120 and 150 worldly players. And with that news, the U.S. Tour continues its quest to play a supporting role for the development of professional golf globally.

The tournament’s creation was an unexpected partnership announcement between the United States, the China Golf Association (CGA) and the China Olympics’ Sports Industry, to form a new tour in the world's most populated and wealthy country.

Perhaps the new Tour China will significantly translate into not only a tour of their own, but also a worldly showcase to further promote the accelerated growth of their professional players' skills and their national recreational participation rate.

Adding to its significance, it will also serve to permit their professionals to play less on the U.S., European and Asian circuits, and to stay at home more to compete before heading back out immediately on the grind of competition and the cost of extensive world travelling to the next tournament site.

There have been more than 150 years of championship golf history to help grow the game's national participation. And throughout that period, efforts have discovered that the growth of the game is much easier said than done. Not to put too fine a point on it, but China unfortunately possesses some major hindrances for their game's national participation movement.

For instance, with their mass population, land to build courses isn't in abundance. And except perhaps for their very rich, the cost to play isn't low enough for all their masses to play.

China is also very mindful that with their new tour, and their 2016 hosting of the Olympics, that national TV coverage and ratings will increase viewing audiences enormously, not only in China, but worldwide. They further realize that history has shown TV coverage can expose role models as it did for America's Arnold Palmer in the 50s and 60s with his “Arnie's Army” fan following.

It's their hope a China role model will emerge from the coverage. They realize there needs to be a role model for fans to follow.

But perhaps most important for their game's growth, they need to put clubs in the hands of their youth early on by creating programs similar to U.S. efforts including The First Tee, the PGA's Golf 2.0 Program, plus the “AJGA,” a program for the highly skilled junior players for today's and tomorrow's best. .

With the eventual success of the PGA Tour China in 2014, perhaps then the creation of a talked about World Tour is more probable within the near future. Then, the professional game will encompass four major circuits; that is, the U.S., European, Asian and the World Tour.

Hello international melting pot of worldly players, China awaits you.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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