With economy in the rough, South Korea is told it's time to give up golf

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The Independent Online

South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak has told officials to give up playing golf because it sends the wrong signal to voters as his country's economy falls on hard times.

"Golf is not bad but... as prices are unstable and the economic situation is not getting better, President Lee thinks they need to consider public sentiment," said a spokesman.

The government, which began fighting low popularity ratings almost as soon as it took office in February, has had to abandon economic growth targets for this year because of the global downturn, while fast-rising inflation has triggered mounting wage demands.

President Lee wants officials to put their clubs away for at least until next month's Chuseok holiday. Golf is popular in South Korea but many players fly to other Asian countries where playing is cheaper. An average club near Seoul charges £125,000 to £250,000 to join and members can expect to pay £125 per guest for a weekend round.

Earlier this year, President George Bush said he had "sacrificed" his regular game of golf to show solidarity with those killed in Iraq.