Business is booming in China, so it only makes sense that golf ’s popularity is growing, too, says Tenniel Chu (BA 1999), the executive director of the Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. “Business people need places to congregate and mingle,” he says, and Mission Hills, the world’s largest golf club, is providing them. Located about an hour’s drive from Hong Kong, the club boasts 12 full-size courses, a five-star hotel and 20 restaurants.
Chu’s parents established Mission Hills in 1992, well before golf enjoyed its current popularity in China (the country’s first golf course was built just 22 years ago). Chu joined the company in 2001, after finishing his economics degree at U of T, and set about putting Mission Hills on the international map. Now expansion is at the top of his to-do list. “There’s a lot of unexplored territory,” says Chu, noting that China has roughly 250 golf courses, compared with more than 20,000 in the United States. “We want to make Mission Hills the golfing capital of not only China, but also the world.”
Chu balances a busy work schedule with family life, which leaves him little time to play golf himself unless entertaining government officials or attending charity events. Still, he considers it his favourite sport. “Just because you have a swimming pool in your backyard,” he says, “doesn’t mean that you swim every day.’”