Global Trends: Sports & Recreation:
Running Head: A Comparative Study of Golf Events in China
By Aylwin Tai, M.A.
This study identifies the critical success factors of golf tournaments in Hong Kong and compares them with the results of a similar study conducted in Shanghai. The Shanghai study identified five success factors: television, Government and Public support, brand image and recognition, print media, and event quality. Identifying such factors can provide the framework for a conceptual model for potential sponsors to use in structuring their marketing strategies toward the Chinese market. It was deemed highly relevant to test a similar conceptual model in a more mature golfing market with a longer history. A random survey of spectators at the Omega Hong Kong Open in November 2002 identified four critical factors: media, event quality, brand image and recognition, and community support.
Key words: brand, advertising, sponsorship, golf, sports events, China
Hong Kong needs to strengthen and enhance its ability to attract more investments in order to continue its traditional role as intermediary between China and its trading partners. One area of investment that is potentially lucrative, in light of Beijing’s choice as the venue of the 2008 Olympics, is the sponsorship of sports events. Sponsorship makes potential customers aware of a company’s brand, informs them of the brand’s benefits, and lets them know where and how to obtain the brand (Russell & Lane, 1996; Krugman, et al, 1994). The value of sponsorships that “support corporate objectives by enhancing corporate image, increasing awareness of brands or directly stimulating sales of products and services” (Javalgi, et al, 1994) has motivated multinational companies (MNCs) to utilize this marketing tool in gaining entry into the Chinese market.
The Hong Kong Open is considered to be one of the most prestigious sports events in Asia. It is also the second oldest professional event in the region (Asian Golf Monthly, 2002b). This study of the Hong Kong Open aims to help prospective sponsors of golf tournaments by identifying factors that will greatly enhance their marketing strategy in establishing a foothold in the largest retail market in the world. Once successful factors are identified, a sponsorship model can be conceptualized, taking into consideration the more mature and sophisticated nature of this territory’s golfing audience compared to its Shanghai counterpart.
The demographic profiles of spectators of any event provide vital information to their sponsors. A comparison between the demographics of Hong Kong and Shanghai spectators could provide valuable insights to potential sports event sponsors in structuring their marketing strategy by taking into account the psychological needs and incentives of their target market. An earlier research study established the fact that 10 of [EI1]the 13 ‘target-rich environments’ for advertising—activities where large numbers of spectators are gathered and with larger broadcast audiences—are sports events (Roslow, et al, 1993).
Twenty variables under these six factors are presumed to be critical to the success of golf tournaments in Hong Kong: media coverage, government support, general public participation, event quality, image projection, and brand recognition. Identifying these factors in the Hong Kong study could provide the framework of a proposed conceptual model that can be utilized by potential sponsors as the basis of their marketing strategy.
The history of golf in Hong Kong can be traced back for over 114 years, when 13 men responded to this advertisement in the local papers: “Gentlemen interested in the Royal and Ancient Game of golf are requested to attend a meeting to be held in the Hong Kong Club on Friday 10th May, 1889 at 5PM to consider the question of starting a golf links in Hong Kong or Kowloon” (Robinson, 1989). Their interest and resolve in initiating the game of golf in the territory persuaded the Government to give them the use of the Happy Valley grounds as a start. These were the humble beginnings of the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club that would, a hundred years later, command a HK $1 million fee for membership. The Hong Kong Professional Open, which was initiated in 1952, has always been held at the Royal Hong Kong Golf Club (Robinson, 1989). Since the 2001-2002 season, when the prestigious Swiss watchmaker Omega became its main sponsor, it has been known as the Omega Hong Kong Open. China’s golfing history is remarkably different from Hong Kong’s, in that it was drastically cut off during the Cultural Revolution and was in limbo for more than two decades until its resurgence in 1984 upon the opening of the Arnold Palmer-designed Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club, the first golf course in post-war China (Asian Golf Supplement, 1995).
Shanghai and Hong Kong both have an illustrious historical past, with Shanghai earning the sobriquet of “Paris of the East” and Hong Kong widely known as the business and financial centre of Asia (Asian Golf Monthly, 2002a). However, given the rising prominence of Shanghai as the emerging financial capital of Mainland China, it is being touted to overtake Hong Kong of its title. Hong Kong is 90% Chinese, but being a former British territory and a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, it is an ideal venue for testing a sponsorship model that was first conceptualized in a research study of Shanghai golf patrons (Tai, 2003). The subject of the Shanghai case study was the Volvo China Open, initiated in 1996, which has built up quite a following in China. The success of the golf event sponsorship has contributed to Volvo’s enviable brand positioning in the car and manufacturing market in the region, strengthening the company’s commitment to sponsor the China Open until 2009.
Sports Event Sponsorship
A sports event is a prime place-based medium for promoting a company’s brand. Consequently, sports event sponsorship is a perfect example of place-based marketing. A sponsor of any event is engaged in place-based marketing (Nicholls, et al, 1994). In addition to providing a basis for advertising, sponsorship is undertaken to enhance the image of a company, its products, and its brand through the linkage of the brand to the event (Marshall & Cook, 1992). Sport events are ideal venues for sponsoring companies to promote their products and brands because sponsorship allows such companies to reach a large number of consumers, not only among on-site spectators, but also among broadcast audiences. Sports event sponsorships present companies with opportunities for promotional activities such as advertising, publicity, premiums, and selling (Nicholls, Roslow & Dublish, 1999). The rapid growth in the popularity and number of sports activities and events offers a huge potential for sponsorships of such events.
The past three Olympics have seen an increasing competitiveness of China’s athletes that has fanned the Chinese people’s interest and involvement in sports. The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) choice of Beijing as the venue for the 2008 Olympic Games served to boost China’s standing in the global arena. IOC’s Marketing Director told www.mediaguardian.uk, “The spotlight will be on China for the next 7 years. Marketing people will be rubbing their hands and thinking of ways to take advantage of the tremendous tide of opportunity in China” (Payne, 1989).
As golf becomes a more desirable sport for sponsorship in China, marketers will have to contend with the problem of a proper venue that will ensure maximum reach and visibility toward their target audience. Hong Kong has been considered Asia’s premier financial capital since its years as a British colony. It definitely has the advantage of long experience and expertise in staging world-class golf tournaments. Furthermore, it has a larger concentration of golfers when compared to Shanghai. Since being return to China as a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong’s traditional role is being challenged by Shanghai, which is now becoming the financial hub of the Mainland. This provides more reason for the former British territory to enhance its attraction as an ideal sports venue.
The success of the Omega Hong Kong Open was presumed to be determined by six factors: 1) media coverage, 2) government support, 3) general public participation, 4) event quality, 5) image projection, and 6) brand recognition. To confirm this presumption, spectators’ opinions were elicited using an instrument containing 20 questions covering these factors (see Table I). Each factor was divided into a number of variables (questions) that measured their popularity and perceived effectiveness in China. Five forms of media coverage were: a) live television coverage, b) television highlights, c) Internet, d) golf magazines, and e) newspapers. Five types of government support were: a) development of public golf, b) development of a junior program, c) event funding, d) tax reduction, and e) joint promotion of golf and tourism. The general public participation contained two categories: a) golfer and b) non-golfer. Event quality was comprised of three elements: a) international standards, b) regional Asia-Pacific standards, and c) local standards. Image projection had three variables: a) global brand position, b) local brand position, and c) link to other brands. Finally, brand recognition had two elements: a) logo display and b) product display.
Take in Table I
Spectators at the Omega Hong Kong Open were approached in random fashion and 236 respondents completed the questionnaire (see Table II). The interviews were administered face to face, with the respondents taking an average of 15 minutes each to provide answers to the survey questions.
Take in Table II
Findings and Results
The group of respondents was comprised of 82.6% golfers and 17.4% non-golfers. A total of 59.5% of golfers came from the18-40 year age group, a finding that demonstrates the young golfing population of Hong Kong. Both golfers and non-golfers came from the professional categories of managers and owners (85.7% and 82.9%, respectively). There were more degree-holders among golfers (50.3%) than among non-golfers (36.6%). See Table III.
Take in Table III
Spectators’ demographic profiles: Hong Kong golfers versus Shanghai golfers
Demographically, Hong Kong’s golfing spectators are similar to Shanghai’s except in the area of language. Of the Shanghai golfers, 93.1% spoke only Mandarin, whereas in Hong Kong, 41.5% of the golfing spectators spoke both English and Mandarin, and 56.9% spoke only the predominant language, Cantonese. Hong Kong respondents had a ratio of 60.5% male to 39.5% female, revealing a higher number of female golfers compared to Shanghai’s 74.6% to 25.4% male-to-female ratio. As far as age level is concerned, Shanghai has a younger golfing population belonging to the 18-40 year old age group (76.9%), compared to Hong Kong (59.5%), a finding that reflects China’s younger tradition in golf and its much younger stage of golf development. Occupation-wise, Shanghai has a slightly higher percentage of managers and owners (90.8%) than Hong-Kong (85.7%), a manifestation of China’s economic growth evidenced by the increase in personal wealth of some segments in the country’s population. The Shanghai study likewise showed a greater number of golfers who are degree holders (74%) than the study performed in Hong Kong (50.3%). Overall, Chinese golfers, as shown by the Shanghai study, are younger and more educated than their Hong Kong counterparts; however, both samples exhibit demographic attributes that can be considered ideal targets for marketers and potential sponsors. These demographic characteristics of being well-to-do, active, sports-minded spectators explain the reasons why sports events are significant vehicles for corporate sponsorship (Nicholls, et al, 1999). See Table IV.
Take in Table IV
Spectators’ responses: Hong Kong samples (golfers versus non-golfers)
For the purpose of this case study, spectators of the Omega Hong Kong Open were classified into two main categories: golfers and non-golfers. Both of these categories had similar views toward the level of importance of the success variables, ranking international standards (one variable of the event quality factor) as the most important. Non-golfers ranked regional Asia-Pacific standards and local standards as second and third, respectively, in importance, whereas the golfers considered developing a junior program under government support as the second most important variable in regard to success. Event quality is held in high esteem by both players and non-players; however, golfers perceive that developing junior golf programs is equally important, knowing that the future of competitive sports rests on the youth; this reflected the belief held that golfers and other professional athletes develop into better performers when they start out younger. There is one area, however, where golfers differed significantly from non-golfers—their perception on the role of golf magazines within the media coverage factor. Non-golfers ranked it as the least important among the twenty variables, whereas the golfers ranked it 13th in importance. This ranking may be due to golfers’ desires to be informed of current events in the golfing world, particularly on the professional level (i.e., wondering whether Tiger Woods added another major to his trophy collection). Active golf players are also interested in knowing the latest innovations and developments in golf equipment and in availing themselves of helpful tips provided by golf professionals. These and other types of pertinent information are regularly featured in golf magazines that are considered relatively important by Hong Kong golfing respondents. See Table V.
Take in Table V
Under the general public participation factor are two categories: golfers’ participation and non-golfers’ participation. Both categories of spectators considered non-golfers’ participation (general public participation) and tax reduction (government support factor) to be not important to the success of golf events.
Spectators’ responses: Hong Kong Samples versus Shanghai Samples
There are nine areas where a significant difference emerged between Hong Kong and Shanghai respondents (at 5% level):
· Live TV and newspapers under media coverage
· Development of public golf
· Development of junior program
· Event funding
· Joint promotion of golf & tourism under government support
· Senior officials playing golf under government support
· Regional Asia-Pacific standards, under event quality
· Local standards under event quality
· Link to other brand under image projection
Shanghai spectators considered live TV to be the most important success variable, followed by international standards, and third, by TV highlights. With golf still in its infancy stage in China, a large portion of the country’s population could still be ignorant of the specifics of the game. However, television—the major means of communication in the Mainland—is bridging the gap between Chinese broadcast audiences and competitive sports. With the proliferation of sports events, including golf, being shown either live or as TV highlights, Chinese audiences are gradually becoming better informed. Recent years have seen an increase in golf tournaments with the strongest international flavor being staged in mainland China, where homegrown Chinese golf professionals have performed creditably, holding their own against more seasoned and experienced international players. Boosted by the choice of Beijing as 2008 Olympics venue, the popularity of the game has soared so much in China that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) made a proposal to include golf in the list of the 2008 Olympic games, but the request was unfortunately denied. In this early stage of golf development, China recognizes television’s importance in promoting the sport as well as in generating greater interest among the general public in watching live TV coverage or TV highlights of golf events.
By contrast, Hong Kong spectators rated live TV and TV highlights as 5th and 7th in importance, respectively. Hong Kong is an expensive city where TV advertising and airtime costs are prohibitive. Sponsors may be difficult to convince regarding the viability of live TV coverage. Thus, Hong Kong respondents did not give the two variables related to TV as high a level of importance as did Shanghai. They gave international standards and regional Asia-Pacific standards the two highest rankings among the success variables, with developing junior golf as the third most important. International standards under event quality were perceived by Hong Kong spectators as the most important success variable, a ranking with which the Shanghai respondents concurred, although next only to live TV. Hong Kong as a former British territory is a melting pot of many races and nationalities. Golfers here are multinational and come from different sectors of the social ladder. Many of the Hong Kong spectators probably attend sports events not so much to see as to be seen. For them to accomplish this objective, the event has to rate highly, preferably with an international flavor and attended by government dignitaries. The Omega Hong Kong Open is a prime example of an international standard golf event that is participated in by world-renowned golfers and well attended by both Hong Kong and foreign well-known guests. See Table VI.
Take in Table VI
According to the results of this study, Shanghai agrees with Hong Kong on the importance of international standards. However, it believes that regional Asia-Pacific standards are not as important and local standards are the least important among the success variables, whereas Hong Kong respondents would prefer having events of local standards to not having any at all. Hong Kong spectators believed that a junior golf program is very important to the development of the sport in the Special Administrative Region. They rely on these youngsters to carry on the territory’s golfing tradition and its hopes of golf supremacy in the region. Given the prestige and good reputation of the Asian Games, where golf is included in the list of sports, a junior golf program could help Hong Kong’s youthful athletes excel in the sport and put them on a course toward winning a medal or two. Hong Kong spectators considered the development of public golf to be a worthy undertaking on the part of the government given the prohibitive cost of golf club membership, debentures, and greens fees. If golf were more affordable as a sport, it could increase its popularity among the territory’s middle class.
Spectators’ Responses: Hong Kong Golfers versus Shanghai Golfers
It is important to determine how Hong Kong golfers differ from Shanghai golfers with regard to the 20 success variables. Nine success variables were found to be significantly different between all Shanghai and Hong Kong spectators (see Table IV). Between Hong Kong and Shanghai golf players only, these were reduced to six (see Table V), all of which were part of the original nine. They are: 1) live TV, 2) newspapers, 3) event funding, 4) joint promotion of golf & tourism/senior officials playing golf, 5) regional Asia-Pacific standards, and 6) local standards.
Live TV remained the most important factor to Shanghai golfers, whereas Hong Kong golfers ranked it only 4th. Hong Kong golfers ranked newspapers in 12th position, higher than golf magazines, in view of the up-to-date golfing information carried in newspaper sports pages, which could be rare or nonexistent in Chinese counterpart magazines. This is possibly one reason why Shanghai golfers considered newspapers the 3rd least important variable. See Table VII.
Take in Table VII
Critical Success Factors
A factor analysis was performed to reduce the 20 variables into a set of critical success factors. Using principal component analysis (rotation: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization), four factors accounting for 64.5% of the total variance were extracted:
· Brand image and recognition (variables highly loading on this factor were global brand position, local brand position, link to other brands, logo display, and product display)
· Government and public support (variables highly loading included development of public golf, development of a junior program, event funding, tax reduction, link to tourism, public participation (golfers), and public participation (non-golfers)
· Media (variables highly loading included Live TV, TV highlights, Internet websites, golf magazines, and newspapers)
· Event quality (variables highly loading include international standards, regional Asia-Pacific standards and local standards)
The Cronbach alpha values indicated that all factor scales constructed are reliable (a=0.59 or above). See Table VIII.
Take in Table VIII
The result from a comparison of means (means of factor scores constructed) revealed that significant differences do exist among the means of the four factors. The differences between four pairs of means (media versus event quality; government and public support versus event quality; government and public support versus brand image and recognition, and event quality versus brand image and recognition) are statistically significant, at the 5% level. Three of the four pairings have one factor—event quality—constantly present. In addition, the scores mean is significantly higher than that of the other factors (brand image and recognition, government and public support, and media). This finding underscores the very important role that event quality plays on the success of sport events. The argument is also strongly supported by the results of previous analysis (see Table 4) showing the ranking of international standards and regional Asia-Pacific standards under event quality as the first and second most important variables among all 20 items. See Tables IX and X.
Take in Tables IX and X
The Shanghai study revealed that television is the most critical success factor of golf events in China. This is an indication of the relatively young tradition of golf in a country that needs the communicating strength of the medium of television to promote golf and generate greater interest in the sport. Since golf as a competitive sport is still in its infancy in China, it needs to be brought to the attention of the populace. This is a tall order, given the geographic diversity of the country and the vastness of its regions. However, through the use of television, which is proving to be the cheapest and most popular medium of communication, the ordinary Chinese citizen can have access to live coverage or delayed telecast of various international sports events, including golf. As a result, the Chinese and golf are slowly but gradually getting acquainted. Beijing’s choice as the site for the 2008 Olympics has precipitated an overwhelming general public interest in sports in general and the media hype surrounding the exploits of golfing icons like Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and others has permeated the Chinese Mainland and built up a large following of golfing fans. The rising popularity and talent of homegrown local golfers who have defeated international players—such as Zhang Liang Wei beating Ernie Els in the Singapore Caltex Masters (January 2003), and Nick Price in the Macau Open (September 2002)—have further boosted the growth and development of this royal and ancient game in China, which has also been largely aided by broadcast coverage of the events. The study’s finding gives credence to the observation that companies view a sports event as the basis for possible exposure to regional, national, or international television, radio, and print audiences that might number in the millions (Abratt et al., 1987).
The model that emerged from the Shanghai case study of the Volvo China Open was subsequently tested in Hong Kong at the Omega Hong Kong Open. The results of the survey of 236 spectators revealed that event quality, with international standards and Asia-Pacific regional standards, is the most critical success factor of the golf event. This is an excellent indicator of the higher maturity level and the more cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong golf audiences who are accustomed to attending and/or participating in golf events in other countries, and are therefore more discerning of the high standards and quality of such events. Therefore, a more robust model of golf sponsorship has emerged from the Hong Kong study, and this model can be tested in a major-world event that could provide further proof of the model’s validity.
With the intention of capturing a larger share of Hong Kong’s golfing market, potential sponsors could utilize this sponsorship model to gain valuable insights into the needs and expectations of the golfing audience. They should incorporate and integrate other elements that could enhance the quality and raise the standard of golf events to make them more attractive, thus motivating a greater number of people to attend and/or participate. These elements could include a higher caliber of professional golfers (possibly winners of major international golf tournaments); the participation of local homegrown golfing heroes to provide a human interest element; the presence of star players versus celebrities in the Pro-Am (professional-amateur) tournament to generate greater publicity and public interest on the event; and the offering of higher prize money. A more mature golfing market such as Hong Kong would demand such elements that would elevate golf events into a world-class category that could compete at the same level as the dominant golfing countries like the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan. Utilizing this model would give China a competitive advantage not only in the golfing arena, but also in attracting more companies desirous of giving their brands better positioning in the global economy.
Companies can achieve their corporate objectives of increasing brand awareness and brand image among a mass audience (Gilbert, 1988), through their association with sports events. The model should provide the potential sponsors with a better understanding and grasp of the elements necessary for formulating their marketing strategy for gaining a foothold into and getting a share of the largest market in the world. A successful strategy would be a confirmation of the validity of the model that can then be applied not only in China but the rest of the world. More research studies with formats similar to the Shanghai and Hong Kong studies could be undertaken in the other cities of China such as Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenjen, where the majority of China’s golf courses and a greater concentration of golfers are located. It should be noted, however, that these are mainly coastal areas that are fairly accessible. Therefore, it cannot be truly representative of the overall population of China, which is concentrated in the vast hinterlands and inner regions of the country. However, the study is focused on golf and its development, and its influence on the specific target markets that any potential sponsors among MNCs should be aware of.
The model can likewise be initially tested in Asian countries outside China that have similar cultures, such as Singapore or Japan, where golf is immensely popular. The comparative results should further verify the sponsorship model’s validity, thereby assisting potential sponsors in justifying their economic incursions into China and the Asia-Pacific Region.
Questionnaire of Variables to the Success of the Tournament
Note. Classification of the respondents’ replies to the survey/questionnaire was accomplished through a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (the least important) to 5 (the most important). Seven demographic variables were included in the survey: 1) Gender, 2) Languages used, 3) Age, 4) Occupation, 5) Education, 6) Annual Income, and 7) whether the respondent plays golf or not.
Questionnaire of demographic variables
Excuse me. Thank you for coming to our event. We are conducting a marketing research on golf-related business and we would like you to spare 15 minutes to answer our survey, which will benefit us in attracting more sponsors and improving our tournament standards in the future. In appreciation of your time and effort, a small token or souvenir will be presented to you after the interview. We shall keep all the interview data in strict confidence and you have no obligation to answer any questions if you don’t wish to do so. If you would like to participate, please come to our reception area where the interview will be conducted.
4. Marital status: Married_____ Single/widowed/divorced/separated_____
5. Annual Income: HK $10k-15K_____ HK $15K-30K_____
HK $30K-$50K_____ Over HK $50K_____
6. Education: College student/graduate/higher degree holder_____
8. Transportation status: Private car owner/user_____ Public transportation user_____
9. Family size (persons living in one residence): 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____ 5 or more____
10. Special interests:
11. Do you play golf: No__________
Yes________ (If yes, please specify where.)
Spectators’ demographic profiles in Hong Kong sample
Spectators’ Demographic Profiles: Comparison Between Hong Kong and Shanghai Golf Players
Spectators’ Responses in Hong Kong Sample: Comparison Between Golfers and Non-Golfers
Italic: items with p-values <0.05 which means there is a significant difference in that item between the golf and non-golf players at 5% level.
Rank: rank of mean values in decreasing order for each of the golf and non-golf players
Spectators’ Responses: Comparison Between Hong Kong and Shanghai Samples
Spectators’ responses: Comparison between Hong Kong and Shanghai golfers
Italic: items with p-values <0.05 which means there is a significant difference in that item between the golf and non-golf players at 5% level.
Rank: rank of mean values in decreasing order for each of the golf and non-golf players
Factor analysis with 4 factors on 20 critical success variables
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis
Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization
Variance explained: 64.50%
Loadings <0.3 were not shown except for public participation (non-golfers)
Means Differences Among the Four Critical Success Factors (Six Paired T-Tests)
Italics: Mean differences statistically significant at 5% level. A comparison of factor loadings of 20 variables between Hong Kong and Shanghai samples revealed the Hong Kong factor loading demonstrating independent components of four factors without variables overlapping each other. However, event quality factor in the Shanghai sample consisted of only two variables: regional Asia-Pacific standards and local standards.
Comparison of factor loadings on success variables between Hong Kong and Shanghai samples
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BWW Society member Mr. Aylwin Tai, M.A. is a native of Hong Kong; he graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1979 with a B.S. Degree in Hotel Management. The previous year, he received his B.S. in Social Science and M.A in Psychology; he is currently finishing his Doctor of Business Administration degree at the University of South Australia. In 1984 he was appointed General Manager of Chung Shan Hot Spring, the first golf club to be developed in China. He is now Executive Chairman of Richtone Worldwide Limited Company, dedicated to the development of golf, particularly in China. Mr. Tai is also Executive Chairman of Asian Pacific Golf Promotion Company Limited, which specializes in turf development and care for golf courses, horse tracks, and other venues, and Director of the National Handicapping Committee and Assistant Director of the International Affair for the China Golf Association, where he acts as a liaison in golf between China and the rest of the world. He serves as Honorary Advisor to Shenzhen Golf Association, Macau Golf Association, China Golf Magazine and Hong Kong Golf Media Association.
Mr. Tai was the first non-Mainland Chinese to be awarded the position of Assistant Director of International Affairs of the China Golf Association; he has spent much of his time promoting golf both inside and outside of China. In 1996 he started a junior golf program at his turf farm, providing local children with free equipment and access to practice. From there, he developed junior summer camps, bringing in professionals from the United States and Europe to provide coaching programs. In 1996 he laid the groundwork for China Golf Association to join Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, and developed close relationships with officials at the R & A and with other key figures in world golf, which three years later led China to becoming a member of the world golf council. From 1998 to 1999 he lectured at Shenzhen University Golf Campus on Golf Management Skills and on the Fundamentals of the Sport. He also introduced China’s National Handicap System, a computerized system designed to standardize handicapping throughout the country.
In his capacity as Executive Chairman of Richtone Worldwide, he was the first to introduce professional golf events to China by launching the Volvo China Tour and Volvo China Open in 1995.The Volvo China Open is one of the Major Professional golf events in Asia. In 2000 Mr. Tai was awarded a trophy to commemorate five years of conducting Professional golf in China. He also manages the affairs of China’s top professional golfer, Zhang Lian Wei, who has become one of the top performers in Asia, as well as a range of other players in Europe and North America. Much of Mr. Tai’s recent work has concentrated on the development of new golf courses in China; he has brought in top international designers and constructors to raise the level of quality to match top golf courses elsewhere in the world. Currently, he is working toward developing ladies golf and junior golf academies.
© 2004 The BWW Society/The Institute for the Advancement of Positive Global Solutions