The Golf Factory
Could this news mean even more South Korean lady golfers in the years ahead?
Cheaper green fees and increasing access to maritime leisure facilities could help reduce the country's service trade deficit, the government said yesterday.When discussing South Korea, you have to remember it is a small country. Over forty million people squeezed into an area the size of Indiana. Unlike the Hoosier state, the ROK has mountains. There just isn't all that much undeveloped real estate around.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy said that it will implement measures to promote the construction of golf courses and develop the country's maritime leisure industry in an effort to redirect outbound tourists to local destinations and cut service deficits. Last year, the country recorded $18.8 billion in service deficits, $12.9 billion of which was accounted for by overseas tourism.
The government plans to introduce measures to encourage the building of golf courses on farmlands in an effort to increase the number of golf courses and bring down green fees.
Under current regulations, a 30 percent tax is placed on farmlands that are converted to other uses. Golf course operators are required to provide facilities such as showers and golf carts.Frankly, I'm not all that keen on Government spending money on sports facilities or encouraging tourism.(To see how the government can make a mess of the later, click here. Don't forget Florida tax dollars being used to promote British rugby either.) Color me libertarian, I feel the government should be less involved, not more involved in what is strictly a business matter. If there's a demand for more golf courses in the ROK, then some entrepreneur will finance the building of golf courses on what used to be farmland. Why is assistance needed? Are the South Korean people clamoring for it, or just some developer?
The government said that these regulations, coupled with the inability of the country’s 251 golf courses to accommodate sufficient numbers of golfers, are responsible for local green fees being much higher than in other countries.
More courses will facilitate a drop in green fees and keep local golfers in the country, stemming the rise of overseas golf trip related costs, the Finance Ministry said. The ministry added that $1.28 billion was spent last year on overseas golf trips, almost double the $650 million seen in 2003.
Also The potential benefits are slim as Robert Koehler points out. Only 1.2 billion was spent by South Koreans playing golf overseas. The South Korean government could spend billions and its citizens still will go elsewhere for 18 holes.
If the Ministry of Finance and Economy goes through with its plan, we'll have to wait some years to see if it impacts professional golf in the US. With 45 or so South Korean lady golfers on the LPGA Tour already, I don't know if many more can be added.
Update- Just to clarify myself, I'm not saying there should be a limit on South Korean golfers on the LPGA. With players emerging from many corners of the world today, including home grown Korean-Americans like Kimberly Kim and Michelle Wie, South Korean golfers will find it a uphill fight to increase their numbers.
Linked to- Amboy Times, Bullwinkle, Right Wing Nation,