Twelve teenagers Thursday began formal golf lessons on a controversial primary school driving range in China’s southernmost Hainan Province.

The indoor driving range, the first of its kind in a school offering primary and junior high school classes in the province, covers more than 300 square meters and allows 12 people to practise their swing at one time.

The range on the eighth floor of the main building of Meishe School in Haikou, the provincial capital, was built at a cost of 100,000 yuan (14,689 U.S. dollars), said Kong Hailiang, vice president of the school with 1,300 students aged 6 to 15.

More than 400 students had applied to join the golf team with the approval of their parents, but only 12 were selected, Kong said.

No fees were charged as the school had set up a 200,000-yuan training fund, he said.

On Thursday, the team began a daily 50-minute session. The school authority also hired a Korean coach to train the teenagers up to three times a week at a cost of 500 yuan per hour, schoolmaster Ding Haitao said.

Cho Namjung, the coach, said playing golf would strengthen the students’ minds and improve self-discipline.

During the upcoming summer break, more golf activities will be arranged for students, their parents, and teachers. 

The training time for the team will be cut to once a week in the autumn semester, which begins in September, and all the students will be able to have a try once a week in sports classes.

The school authority planned to improve the facilities of the driving range during a second-phase project, Kong said.

Compared with Beijing, Shenzhen and other regions, the southernmost tropical island had a more comfortable climate and the price of a round of golf was cheaper, said Chen Hui, director with Hainan’s youth golf committee.

More young people had shown an interest in golf and the local sports authorities have been encouraging young people to take up the sport.

Cai Xingyao, 7, has practised golf for a couple of months at a public driving range.

"One day’s play costs about 150 yuan. It is expensive, but I’ll support him since the sport is healthy," said the boy’s mother surnamed Huang.

However, Huang Guangming, father of a 15-year-old boy, said golf was still too expensive for many families. Even though the training was free in the school, only a small group of students were lucky enough to join it.

"I think jogging, playing bascketball or ping pong are more practical and helpful for most of the kids," he said.

Source: Xinhua

 
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