Wait 'til the Chinese produce their own Tiger Woods
Everyone knows about the exponential growth of China’s economy. One outcome of that growth is the burgeoning popularity of golf. For a little insight into that, check out the website for the Mission Hills Golf Club. Located 90 minutes by car from Hong Kong, the club features an astonishing 180 holes of golf – ten very lush golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Nick Faldo. Half the members come from Hong Kong, but 3,000 come from the mainland, and are paying $25,000 a year in dues. It’s very important in China not only to have a stable income, but to demonstrate you have a stable income. A membership to a golf club is one way the Chinese can show their status.
Economists say that the high savings rate in China – an estimated 38 percent of GDP since 1978 – is one big reason for the economic boom. Chinese are big believers in investment, especially in real estate. They’ll save money to buy a building, and then they’ll buy another, and so on – even if it means all the cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents have to live under one roof to contribute to the savings. Contrast that with America’s negative savings rate and you can see which way history is going.
Last year U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow went to China with a message: Your savings rate is too high. Use credit cards. Go into debt like we do. The Chinese must have rolled over laughing when they heard that.
Now that golf is popular in China, in a few years we’ll see some great Chinese players competing on the PGA Tour. These are serious people. They’re eating our lunch in the world economy, and maybe one day we’ll see it on the golf course, too.
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