Luxury golf club 'ignored govt ban'
Updated: 2015-02-17 09:25
By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai(China Daily)
The Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai is accused of being illegally built. Ding Ting / Xinhua
A luxury golf club in suburban Shanghai that charges membership fees as high as 1.46 million yuan ($233,400) was still running on Monday, though it had been exposed as being illegally built and operated for four years.
In a report published on Sunday, Xinhua News Agency accused Dongzhuang Beach Golf Club in the city's Pudong New Area of cheating authorities by calling itself a "sports park" and ignoring a ban by the central government in 2004 from constructing new golf courses.
The report also says that government officials and State-owned company executives are among its members.
"I don't know about any probe into us just because of the report," an employee of the club said, adding that the club was still running and there were about 20 clients teeing off on its course on Monday morning. The course was set to close on Wednesday for the Spring Festival holiday and reopen on Feb 24, she said.
A marketing manager surnamed Sun said on Monday that some of the information listed in the report is from its official website, but he declined to comment further.
The city's planning and land resource administration bureau said on Monday that it has noticed the report and begun to deal with the matter.
The exposure comes amid a nationwide clamp down on illegally constructed golf courses to promote environmental protection and regulate the industry.
It is estimated that there are more than 600 golf clubs across the country, up from less than 200 in 2004 when the ban was implemented.
About 1 million people play the game regularly, and the number of enthusiasts is rising by 10 percent every year, according to a 2013 white paper released by Chaoxiang Group, a professional golf management company.
On its website, the Dongzhuang Beach club says that it has a high-end clubhouse and two 18-hole championship golf courses. The two courses cover 1.8 square kilometers.
Since its opening in October 2010, the club has hosted at least 15 major championships or competitions. It also has a golf academy with Australian PGA member and former European tour player Martyn Roberts as its head coach. But the Xinhua News Agency accused the company of applying for a nod from the land resources department under the name of building a sports park, and its operator Dongzhuang Beach (Shanghai) Sports Development Co, with a registered capital of 85 million yuan, is not qualified to operate a golf club.
The report quoted unidentified employees as saying that many of the club members are private entrepreneurs, though some State-owned company executives and government officials play as special guests.
During the nationwide crackdown, Shanghai shut down one golf course late last year because of its negative impact on the environment, with its members transferred to another club. Business insiders said that some others will be shut down by June 30.