- Title: CHINA: GOLF - Golf brings glamour to China's tropical Hainan Island
- Date: 29th October 2010
- Summary: HAIKOU, HAINAN PROVINCE, CHINA (OCTOBER 28, 2010) (REUTERS) ACTRESS CATHERINE ZETA-JONES WALKING ONTO GOLF COURSE PHOTOGRAPHERS TAKING PHOTOS FAIRWAY CATHERINE ZETA-JONES PLAYING OFF TEE CROWD WATCHING BEHIND BARRIER (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTOR CHRISTIAN SLATER SAYING: "I want that on the record, I am by no means a professional, purely for fun. Loosen up." CROWD WATCHING CHRISTIAN SLATER PLAYING FROM TEE CHRISTIAN SLATER IN GOLF CART VARIOUS OF ACTOR MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY TEEING OFF VARIOUS OF OLYMPIC GOLD-MEDAL WINNER MICHAEL PHELPS WALKING TO AND GETTING INTO GOLF CART VARIOUS OF ACTOR HUGH GRANT TALKING TO GOLFER NICK FALDO ON GREEN CROWD WATCHING FROM BEHIND BARRIER HUGH GRANT TEEING OFF HUGH GRANT STANDING ON COURSE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MISSION HILLS GROUP VICE CHAIRMAN KEN CHU SAYING: "There is no infrastructure, there is no dirt. If there is no dirt, there is no farmland and it is just pure rock land. There is a high reason that you can use a very rural, uncultivated piece of land and convert it to something that has some cause to it and that is why we were able to build this facility at such a rapid speed." BALL ON 18TH HOLE CROWD WATCHING CATHERINE ZETA-JONES TAKING SHOT CATHERINE ZETA-JONES SHAKING HANDS WITH OTHER PLAYERS CROWD WATCHING CATHERINE ZETA-JONES IN GOLF CART (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTRESS CATHERINE ZETA-JONES SAYING: "I mean, you have got to see Mission Hills to believe it, it is just, the facilities and the attention to detail is great. Tough course though, but if you love golf you'll play anything I guess." CATHERINE ZETA-JONES AND TEAM PLAYERS WALKING AWAY FARMER WALKING PAST HIS HOUSE VARIOUS OF FARMER POINTING TO GOLF COURSE NETS BY HIS HOUSE (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) FARMER WHO WOULD NOT GIVE HIS NAME SAYING: "This was the way they treated everybody over 50, we leased this land to you to build a golf course but it has hurt us." HAND HOLDING SIGN READING "QUIET PLEASE" VARIOUS OF GOLFER BELEN MOZO AT TEE GUARD STANDING AT BARRIER HOLDING SIGN READING "QUIET PLEASE"
- Embargoed: 13th November 2010 03:22
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVAA7C1JIV5FUMGC9KU86LD9WBBH
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Golf, once labelled "green opium" by communist China, is now a tempting luxury for China's blossoming tourist industry in the southern island of Hainan.
The sport, once viewed as expensive and elitist, is becoming popular amongst China's wealthy and an added boost as Hainan officials remould the tropical island province into an international tourism hub.
International screen stars Matthew McConaughey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hugh Grant and Christian Slater joined local film and television stars, including Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang to play in the Mission Hills Star Trophy.
Professional players, including Nick Faldo, Belen Mozo, Danny Lee and Rosie Jones each joined a team of amateurs and celebrities to play the newly built Mission Hills Haikou course on Thursday (October 28).
The professionals are set to play their own individual event over the weekend for 1.28 million U.S. Dollars prize money but some players were keen to point out that Thursday's match would be a much more relaxed affair.
"I want that on the record, I am by no means a professional, purely for fun. Loosen up," Christian Slater said.
Mission Hills Hainan, sister to the world's largest golf course complex Mission Hills Shenzhen, aims to offer a choice of 10 golf courses, the first of which opened in March this year.
The government banned the building of new golf courses six years ago over concerns that some developers were illegally procuring the land.
But developers have found ways around the ban.
Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Ken Chu says Mission Hills was built quickly, over just a few years, as the land had no original use.
"There is no infrastructure, there is no dirt. If there is no dirt, there is no farmland and it is just pure rock land. There is a high reason that you can use a very rural, uncultivated piece of land and convert it to something that has some cause to it and that is why we were able to build this facility at such a rapid speed," he said.
The event drew a curious crowd of several hundred onlookers, some seeing a golf course for the first time as golf still remains a sport for the elite.
Statistically less than one percent of China's population play golf, the sport is an expensive pastime, joining a club cost an average of $53,000 in 2008.
Mission Hills's courses offer its players a wealth of carefully manicured luxury.
"I mean, you have got to see Mission Hills to believe it, it is just, the facilities and the attention to detail is great. Tough course though, but if you love golf you'll play anything I guess," said Catherine Zeta-Jones.
But few of the local farmers who once owned the land leases can afford a round.
While some local residents are happy to sell their land to developers, not all are pleased with the results.
One family, who preferred not to give their names, sold their land to a separate Haikou-based golf course ten years ago after being promised employment on the site but found they were made redundant at 50-years-old and had no further means of livelihood.
"This was the way they treated everybody over 50, we leased this land to you to build a golf course but it has hurt us," the former farmer said.
China's first golf course was built in 1984 and 500 more have sprung up since, Hainan currently boasts 30 courses, according to local government figures.
But if the golf courses do provide a lucrative boost to the island's economy and tourist numbers, local residents may have little option but to hold their silence.
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