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Chinese Civil Servants Banned From Playing Golf

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A golfer tees off on a golf course at Mission Hills Dongguan in China's Guangdong province.

Communist Party officials in China's Guangdong province have been banned from playing golf during working hours, according to a report by Tom Phillips of The Telegraph.

The rule, announced on Sunday by Guangdong's anti-corruption agency, warns that “if government workers become keen on this 'noble' game, it might bring about bad consequences such as making them detached from the masses or even corrupt."

According to the report, officials will no longer be able to attend golf-related events, play golf with colleagues or obtain a golf club membership.

It's already been a tough year for the game in China. Authorities closed several courses earlier this year, raising questions about whether Beijing might start enforcing its 2004 moratorium on the construction of new golf courses.

Dan Washburn, managing editor of the Asia Society and the author of a new book about golf in China called "The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream," said local crackdowns are not new, but what makes this one significant is its location.

"What's interesting is that this is happening in Guangdong, the birthplace of golf in modern China and home to more golf courses than anywhere else in the country," wrote Washburn in an email to Golf.com. "While government officials all over the nation have long known that cozying up to golf was something that was frowned upon, things have always been a little more lax the further south you got. Maybe, in China's current political environment, that is beginning to change. Or maybe this is simply a provincial government office trying to curry favor with Beijing, and golf is an easy target."

The new rule's potential impact, he says, will depend on enforcement. Since the 2004 moratorium, for example, more golf courses have been constructed in China than anywhere else in the world.

"Rules can sometimes mean very little [in China]," wrote Washburn. "I think the Chinese government is very good at compartmentalizing its feelings torward golf."

An Interview with Dan Washburn, Author of "The Forbidden Game," on China's Complicated Relationship with Golf
Dan Washburn, managing editor of the Asia Society and author of the new book "The Forbidden Game," tells Jessica Marksbury that golf in China is both banned and booming.

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