Friday, March 28, 2014

Golf Too Lowly? Try Polo.

Ultra-luxurious polo clubhouse. In Tianjin, China.

Polo has long been considered the sport of kings. Persian royalty invented it. Princes Harry and William play it. Ralph Lauren built a fortune selling its reflected glory on otherwise prosaic cotton T-shirts. So enough said.
Now, polo is fast becoming the pastime of choice for China’s most discerning citizens. Or so hopes Pan Sutong, Chairman of the Goldin group. If Donald Trump were reincarnated as a Chinese billionaire, he’d likely bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Pan. They both believe that the good life comes gushing out of gold-plated bathroom fixtures. They share a passion for promoting la dolce vita to the nouveau riche. They both believe that the recipe for savoir faire comes printed on the margins of $100 notes. For Mr. Pan, he has travelled a long career arc, starting with cornering the market for karaoke machines in China – that essential piece of electronic hardware in those ubiquitous entertainment clubs that host business deals and ill-reputed activities – to building a gated community near Tianjin, China that focuses on first class wines, luxury housing, and horses. In his mind, nothing depicts success more than the sight of equines chasing after a small wooden ball on a perfectly groomed patch of Kentucky bluegrass. It’s true in England. So it must be for China. And golf is soooo pre-Xi Jinping.   

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