Shang­hai el­e­men­tary school re­quires play­ing golf

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUN­QIAN in Shang­hai

xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Some 400 stu­dents at an el­e­men­tary school in Shang­hai kicked off their spring se­mes­ter by swing­ing golf clubs.

The first pub­lic el­e­men­tary school in China to in­tro­duce golf as one of its com­pul­sory cour­ses, the Ex­per­i­men­tal School of For­eign Lan­guages Af­fil­i­ated to East China Nor­mal Univer­sity said on its of­fi­cial web­site that all first and se­cond graders are re­quired to prac­tice golf once ev­ery week since the se­mes­ter be­gan on Feb 18.

“Golf is not a high-class sport ex­clu­sive for aris­to­crats only. It could be a pop­u­lar game ac­ces­si­ble to all,” Xia Haip­ing, the school prin­ci­pal, told Chi­nese me­dia thep­a­per.cn.

Xia said that the school added the course to its syl­labus not only to en­hance the phys­i­cal con­di­tions of its ju­nior stu­dents, but also help them with their eti­quette.

Ex­tra tu­ition will not be charged for stu­dents who take the course, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­ject launched by the school and the Cen­tury Teenage Golf Pro­gram, ini­ti­ated by Shang­hai Cen­tury Pub­lish­ing Group.

It is es­ti­mated that there are up­wards of 30 schools in China, pri­vate and pub­lic, el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary, that have in­cluded golf as part of their phys­i­cal education.

Golf was in­tro­duced in China late in the 1990s and has gained great pop­u­lar­ity among the coun­try’s busi­ness peo­ple as an ideal so­cial game. The younger gen­er­a­tions are ex­posed to the sport later thanks to their par­ents, many of whom be­lieve it could help their chil­dren win an edge while ap­ply­ing for over­seas univer­si­ties.

In 1997, Shen­zhen Univer­sity in south­east China made head­lines by be­ing the first school in Asia to es­tab­lish a golf col­lege, ded­i­cated to train­ing pro­fes­sional tal­ent in play­ing and man­ag­ing the game.

Ac­cord­ing to the For­ward Man­age­ment Group, a lead­ing sports man­age­ment com­pany in China’s golf in­dus­try, there were around 32,000 ju­nior golfers in the coun­try by 2013 and the num­ber is in­creas­ing.

In 2010, the group, in part­ner­ship with the Golf Course Builders As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica (GCBAA) foun­da­tion, de­vel­oped more than 100 golf pro­grams in 30 Chi­nese cities. Most of its pro­grams pro­vide ba­sic golf in­struc­tion to chil­dren aged six to 15.

Pri­vate gold tu­tors charge an av­er­age of 300 to 700 yuan ($46 to $108) per ses­sion for ju­nior teach­ing in China. De­spite the grow­ing need, in­dus­try in­sid­ers said that there is a dire short­age of pro­fes­sional coaches for ju­nior golfers, who re­quire as much phys­i­cal in­struc­tion as men­tal.

Prin­ci­pal Xia says that golf train­ing is ex­pen­sive or looked upon as a lux­ury be­cause when it first en­tered China, rich peo­ple were the ma­jor play­ers.

Fa­cil­i­ties for golf at the school are mostly pro­vided by the Cen­tury Teenage Golf Pro­gram, which hopes to pop­u­lar­ize the sport to more pub­lic schools in Shang­hai.

“As a bilin­gual school, we hope our stu­dents can not only speak flu­ent English, but also un­der­stand its cul­ture and com­bine the lan­guage into their daily life,” said Xia.

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