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An Investigation of the Key Market Growth Factors for Golf Development in China as a Recreation and Luxury Product

Zhang, Congshan (Stuart)


Congshan (Stuart) Zhang


The aim of this research is to investigate the key market growth factors for golf development in China as a recreation and luxury product. After nearly 30 years of development, China now has the largest golf complex in the world and the golf market in China is growing at its fastest pace for recent years (Verot, 2013). Due to rapid economic growth and the emergence of a large number of wealthy people, it has been argued that the consumption of luxury and recreational products will increase.
Practically, there is evidence to suggest that golfing in China is being developed as both recreational product and luxury product. However, little research has been carried out to answer the question why a foreign game could develop so robustly, and the key factors that have contributed to its growth in relation to its unique features. Moreover, golf development in China is taking place within an increasingly complicated environment, which necessitates strategic adjustments in golf and related businesses for sustained growth. After examining existing literature, this research proposed the theoretical framework, which identifies the relationship among golf industry, features and potential factors.
To test the hypotheses generated from the theoretical framework and to enrich the argument a pragmatic methodology is adopted, which involve both positivist and interpretivist approaches. Therefore, both questionnaire and in-depth interview methods are applied in this research to reach the requirement of both broadness and depth. The questionnaire was distributed to 230 golf course managers in China, and 213 valid responses were collected. Correlation analysis and regression analysis were carried out and the quantitative findings were complemented by evidence from interviews with 5 experienced golf course managers who have worked in several golf courses around China.
The theoretical framework is tested through designed research and suggests that when considering golf as a recreation and luxury product, the economic factor is the key market growth factor in China. The in-depth interviews supported this finding and further suggested that the cultural factor is also significant for golf development.
Moreover, the interviews also provided comprehensive information about how political, economic, cultural, technological, geographic and environmental factor are influencing current and future golf development. Accordingly, golf business should adjust their practices to their external environment. Using the political factor as an example, golf industry has the capacity to influence the factor to their advantage. The golf industry could project a positive image that golf development will not harm the natural environment if the maintenance procedures are appropriated. Furthermore, the golf industry should launch information campaigns and lobby the government to demonstrate that the concern from public is unnecessary.
The findings of this study presented implications for academic literature and the golf industry. From the academic perspective, this research tested theories from existing literature in the field of golf development in China. Meanwhile, this research provides the framework for research in a related area in the future. Furthermore, this study highlighted a new niche subject of academic study, the luxury recreational sector that encompasses luxury experiences and recreation specialisation. For the golf industry in China, the framework provided by this research will help practitioners to understand their external business environment and implement innovative strategies. The information revealed by the framework will also help potential international investors to develop better strategies to gain access to the Chinese market.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Golf industry; China; leisure market; business development;
Public URL
Contract Date Feb 13, 2015
Award Date 2014-09


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