It is hard to overstate what hosting the Olympics means to China. With half a million foreign visitors expected to descend on Beijing for three weeks this summer (the Games will run August 8–24), to say nothing of the estimated four billion people watching on television, the historic event will give the world’s most populous nation the opportunity to shine in the international spotlight. Excitement has been building around the city for months. Newspapers overflow with Olympics coverage. Gleaming skyscrapers are festooned with enormous banners extolling the Games. Domestic ticket sales are through the roof, and merchandise bearing the five “Fuwa” Olympic mascots has become de rigueur in schoolyards across the teeming capital.
Rightly or wrongly, golf won’t be on the lineup of events—the last time it was an Olympic sport was in 1904—but that doesn’t mean spectators hankering for a round will be left disappointed. The courses in and around Beijing are some of the finest the nation has to offer, so devoting a day or two of your itinerary to teeing it up merits serious consideration.
China Golf for the Uninitiated
Playing golf in mainland China can be an eye-opening experience for Western visitors. The game is still an elitist sport here, and the high level of service and sheer number of amenities tend to reflect that (many clubs operate their own spas, or at the very least provide foot massages). Caddies, typically chirpy young women, are mandatory at every club and, despite their varying degrees of English fluency, make for amusing company. Caddie fees are generally included in the green fees, although caddies do expect to be tipped, usually a hundred renminbi (approximately fourteen dollars). Club rental is available at all courses, and booking a tee time is best done through your hotel concierge.