Fortune

THE PGA TOUR TAKES ON CHINA

CANCELED TOURNAMENTS, BAD LUCK, AND SO MUCH PROMISE: INSIDE THE GOLF INDUSTRY’S STAR-CROSSED STRUGGLE TO GET CHINESE CONSUMERS TO HIT THE LINKS.

MARTY DOU KNEW AT 17 YEARS OLD that he should turn professional. He had been skipping half his high school classes to play, with his parents’ blessing, and by then his game was good enough to keep up with the pros. • At maybe 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, Marty (his given name is Zecheng, but everybody calls him Marty) looks smaller than your typical pro golfer. But his size belies a swing so aggressive that even Bubba Watson, the PGA Tour’s hardest swinger, took notice at a tournament in Shanghai last year where the two played together—and where Marty finished higher than stars Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. • “He has no fear,” Watson marveled. “We don’t often see an Asian-born player swinging that hard.” Compliments from a two-time Masters winner aside, Marty, now 19, is currently the best golfer playing in China—and could soon become the first mainland Chinese golfer to compete at the top global level. He spent five years of his childhood in Canada, but he’s skipping the tried-and-true route taken by other Asian golf stars to the pros of enrolling in a U.S. college before playing junior tours in America. Friends told him stories about American college nightlife, with its drinking and hookups. His dad, a day trader, thought he needed quiet practice in China. “I’d skip school,” Marty says, laughing. “I’m too tempted by parties.”

Luckily for him, he didn’t have to leave China for a shot at golf ’s biggest stage. Since 2014, the PGA, the world’s most prominent golf association, has run PGA Tour China Series, a professional league that gives promising young players a shot at graduating to

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