Shankai to operate PGA Tour's returning China series
US golf's PGA Tour has partnered with Shankai Sports, the Chinese sports marketing agency, to operate its tournaments in China, which will return to the country in 2018 after a one-year hiatus.
The two organisations have signed a 20-year deal, with Shankai paying an undisclosed sum to the PGA Tour to operate its China series.
At the end of October, the Tour announced the return of the PGA Tour-China after signing a new four-year accord with the China Golf Association.
The future of the PGA Tour-China, which launched in 2014, had been in doubt after the previous three-year arrangement between the US and Chinese golf bodies expired in 2016.
PGA Tour Greater China managing director Greg Gilligan told Reuters that the decision to bring a local partner on board was driven by “the size of the opportunity and the complexity of doing things here [in China].”
Each tournament on the China circuit will offer a prize fund of at least 1.5 million yuan ($226,000), with the top-five money winners earning places on the PGA Tour’s second-tier Web.com Tour in 2019.
The return of the PGA Tour-China follows a lengthy stagnation surrounding the golf market in China since a crackdown on corruption and bans on officials playing the sport. The Asian Tour has also returned to China following a nine-year absence.
In January, China’s state planner said it had ordered the closure of more than 100 golf courses in a multi-year campaign launched in 2011 to tackle illegal development in the sector.