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May 10, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Drive to popularize golf in city schools

WITH golf set to debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, some local schools are introducing the sport into their curriculum in a bid to popularize what is usually seen as a rich man's pastime.

Four Shanghai schools have joined the China Junior Golf Program, launched by the China Golf Association, which plans to promote the sport to more campuses this year.

However, some parents and doctors have questioned whether the sport is appropriate for schoolchildren.

"Chinese are not familiar with golf and have some misunderstandings about the sport," said Li Yuhua, principal of Yongchang Private School, one of the first batch of schools in the program.

Although Li is not a golfer, he believes "the elegant sport is helpful in improving students' health and manners."

The school has listed golf in its required lessons for Grade One and Two students this semester. It plans to have the program cover all nine grades of students by next semester when the construction of a practice course is complete.

PE teachers have been sent on golf training and the school has invested in equipment and its practice course at the suburban Jinshan District campus.

With an annual tuition of between 12,000 (US$1,848) and 14,000 yuan, students' families are fairly well-off and many parents play the sport.

Jenny Le, whose son is a Grade One pupil at the school, said she is very proud that her son will soon be able to play golf with his father.

The program organizer plans to enlarge the program into more campuses, which may lead to more opposition from local parents who believe the sport is just a status symbol for schools.

Mi Jianhua, father of a nine-year-old girl, said it is impossible for the sport to really become popular due to its high cost.

"Learning how to play golf on an exercise field is an interesting experience," he said. "But you have to go to a real golf course to get the glamor and spirit of the sport."

"It's very expensive to play on a golf course and the equipment costs a lot, too. Few families can afford luxury sports," he added.

He believes that other kinds of exercise, including running and swimming, are more effective and efficient in improving children's physical health.

Doctors are worried that children whose muscles have not been fully developed may get hurt playing the sport, which places repeated strain on one side of the body.

"Kids may hurt their waist if they use too much force in an incorrect way," said Wang Zhigang, an orthopaedist of Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

He added that children should always play under the supervision of adults to help prevent accidents.


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