Should golf be compulsory in schools? That might sound like a strange question, but consider this:
1. Many people agree that golf is a good sport for all people, but especially youngsters, to be involved in. Among the many benefits of golf, it teaches self-discipline, instills fair play, helps with mental arithmetic and can be a useful tool in career progression.
2. When people get the chance to try golf, a lot of them fall in love with it.
3. The problem is that not enough people ever get the chance to experience golf, especially when they’re young.
One primary school in China has considered the above and come up with a solution: making golf a compulsory part of the syllabus.
The publicly funded Shanghai Experimental School has introduced weekly golf sessions for its 400 or so seven- and eight-year old students.
“The students are all quite internationalised now,” says headmaster Xia Haiping. “Just having the language skills is not enough. Golf is an important social skill for them to step towards international society.”
China currently doesn’t have a single player in the world’s top 100 male golfers, and boasts only two in the women’s top 100, in the shape of world number nine Shanshan Feng and world number 43 Xiyu Lin.
Exorbitant golf memberships in China mean that only the super-rich usually get to experience the game. That is something Xia Haiping wants to change.
“Golf is not a high-class sport exclusive to the rich,” he says. “It can be a popular game accessible to all.”
The fear, of course, is that kids don’t tend to enjoy things they are being forced to do. If golf is made to seem like a chore, it could actually have the opposite to intended effect and turn youngsters off the game.
What do you think…