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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Nearly 40 percent of employees in India play golf to mingle with senior business executives, the highest proportion of any country surveyed in a new poll.
Golfing to get ahead was also popular in China, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia where 33 percent of people questioned in a Reuter/Ipsos poll said they used the sport as a means of professional social networking.
Overall, 15 percent of the 12,691 employees surveyed in 24 countries said golf gave them an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder.
"I don't think it's odd that one in seven use this as a stepping stone," said John Wright, a senior vice president with Ipsos in Toronto.
"It's a rich man's sport in India. It's a place where real estate developers and investors are moving to the sport."
The introduction in 2010 of the Avantha Masters, with its 1.5 million euro purse was an indication of golf's growing popularity in India, according to Wright.
"If you're in the western world, you don't expect it to have much impetus in developing countries," he explained.
Nearly half of workers in China said they thought the sport could help to advance their career, followed by 46 percent of employees in India, 37 percent in South Korea, 35 percent in South Africa and 30 percent in Saudi Arabia.
In Britain, the birthplace of golf, 22 percent said the sport could benefit their career but only five percent said they used the sport to get closer to senior management.
Employees were least convinced of golf's professional benefits in France, where only nine percent said the sport could help their career.
Reporting by Zachary Goelman; Editing by Patricia Reaney