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Will more golf courses get redeveloped for housing?

Will more golf courses get redeveloped for housing?
PHOTO: Keppel Club

When the news about Orto having to move out of its current premises to make way for housing came out, many people were not pleased. A lot have highlighted that Singapore doesn't have many recreational places like Orto.

Some have also questioned why golf courses do not get redeveloped for housing instead. Such as this Hardware Zone user.

According to a Ministry of Law press release, as of 2014, Singapore had 17 golf courses (14 were private, while three were public). In total, these golf courses had been occupying around 1,500 hectares of land.

Given the lack of land supply and high demand for housing in Singapore, it makes sense to redevelop golf courses for residential use.

The sport itself has seen decreased popularity over the past decade. It's also cheaper to golf in other countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

Golf course leases are also expensive. For instance, the lease renewal premium for the period 2022 to 2024 for the Tampines course of Tanah Merah Country Club is $30.1 million.

For a shorter lease period from 2022 to 2035 for its Garden course, the cost is $15 million. This has prompted the country club to ask each member to pay $19,000 to fund the lease renewal in 2017.

Most golf courses here are located on land plots with a 30-year leasehold tenure. While some can have their leases renewed, others will have to return the land to the state at the end of the lease.

As noted in the 2014 press release, given that golf courses are land intensive, the amount of land used for golf courses will be reduced over time.

The returned plot of land will be redeveloped for other uses such as housing and public infrastructure.

Since then, three golf courses have closed. Their sites have either been acquired by the government, or were not offered lease renewal.

Golf courses that are making way for housing and other uses in the past 10 years

Keppel Club

The land lease for Keppel Club had initially expired on Dec 31, 2021, before Singapore Land Authority gave it a six-month extension to June 30, 2022, to move to the Singapore Island Country Club's Sime Course.

The club was also given a nine-month extension to March 31, 2023, to demolish the clubhouse and reinstate the site.

The site is part of the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW), and will be used for housing.

In April, National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced that the first HDB BTO project will be launched at the site in three years.

Around 6,000 units will be public housing, while the other 3,000 units will be private housing. These will be progressively launched in the next three to five years.

Jurong Country Club

The lease of Jurong Country Club was supposed to expire in May 2035. But it was acquired by the government in 2016 for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project that was later terminated on Jan 1, 2021.

The former site of Jurong Country Club is now a white zone. So the plot can be for commercial, hotel, residential or recreational purposes.

Given that it's located in the heart of Jurong Lake District, we expect mixed-use developments to be built here.

As noted in the Long Term Plan (unveiled in June), the area has been marked as a commercial and business park node.

Raffles Country Club

Jurong Country Club wasn't the only golf course that had to make way for the HSR project.

A year later in 2017, the government acquired Raffles Country Club. Its original lease expiry was Nov 2028.

The Integrated Train Testing Centre is now currently being built at this site. It's expected to be fully operational in 2024.

Marina Bay Golf Course

The land lease for Marina Bay Golf Course is ending in July 2024, and was not given an option to renew its lease. As of writing, the plot is marked as a reserve site on the 2019 URA Master Plan.

ALSO READ: URA Master Plan for property buyers: How to read and understand it

At the same time, we note that next to the golf course site is the Bay East Garden of Gardens by the Bay. Here's also where the upcoming Founder's Memorial and its MRT will open in 2027.

So it's possible that this area will have a park, museum or gallery in future.

When we take a closer look at the Long Term Plan, this site is a future development area that's close to the Long Island – a proposed reclaimed land stretching from Marina East to Changi.

So another possibility is that we'll have coastal parks and recreational spaces at the Marina Bay Golf Course site.

Are there any more golf courses that may potentially make way for housing?

When we looked closer at the 2019 URA Master Plan and the recently unveiled Long Term Plan, we found a few more golf courses that could potentially be redeveloped for housing.

Champions Golf Course

Champions Golf Course, previously known as Green Fairways, will be another golf course making way for housing. The golf course is currently located at Turf City, in which tenancies there have been extended till end-2023.

The site has already been designated for residential use since 1998.

ALSO READ: Turf City lease expires end-2023 to make way for housing. Here's what it's like to live there

Given that the site is located next to the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) areas of Binjai Park, Swiss Club Road, Eng Neo Avenue and Raffles Park, we'll probably see a mix of luxury condos and landed homes here.

Orchid Country Club

It looks like one of the golf courses near Orto will also make way for housing.

According to the 2014 MinLaw press release, Orchid Country Club was given an option to renew its lease till Dec 2030, after which there will be no more lease renewals.

Currently, the plot is a reserve site on the 2019 URA Master Plan. And the Long Term Plan indicates that there are plans for it to be redeveloped for housing.

We think redeveloping it for housing makes sense, especially given its proximity to HDB flats and condos.

Warren Golf and Country Club

Warren Golf and Country Club may also be potentially making way for housing. Its current lease is set to expire in Oct 2030.

Although the plot is currently marked as a reserve site, its accessibility makes it an ideal site for housing.

Firstly, it's located along Kranji Expressway. Public transport is pretty accessible as well, with Choa Chu Kang MRT and Lot One around a 10-minute drive away.

More importantly, it's near a residential area. Across the expressway, you can find HDB blocks, as well as Bukit Panjang Government High School.

As noted in the FAQ section of the Ministry of National Development website, with the 2030 lease expiry of some of these golf courses, the government would have taken back more than 400 hectares of land for redevelopment by then.

What about the rest of the golf courses?

When we looked at the future plans, it seems like a few golf courses will make way for other developments other than housing.

Redevelopment plans for the Serapong course of Sentosa Golf Club?

When Sentosa Golf Club was approaching the end of its previous lease, it was offered a new lease for its two courses.

However, while the Tanjong course has its lease renewed till December 2040, the Serapong course has a shorter lease ending in December 2030.

We think the Serapong course may be redeveloped as part of the Sentosa-Brani masterplan, which was unveiled in 2019 as part of the Greater Southern Waterfront.

The rejuvenated islands will feature five distinct clusters: Vibrant, Island Heart, Waterfront, Ridgeline and Beachfront.


On the other hand, due to the pandemic, it's since been reported that the Sentosa-Brani masterplan is getting reviewed.

Due to proximity to the airport, some golf course sites aren't conducive for living

There are five golf courses near Changi Airport. These are:

  • Changi Golf Club
  • Tanah Merah Country Club (Tampines and Garden courses)
  • NSRCC (Changi)
  • Laguna National Golf and Country Club

Due to the airplane noise generated, people wouldn't want to live in these areas.

Instead of housing, a few of these golf courses could make way for other uses in future.

The land lease of the Garden course at Tanah Merah Country Club, which is located right next to Changi Airport, will expire in 2035.

In 2014, the government acquired part of the Garden course for the expansion of Changi Airport. Currently, the land is a reserve site. So we might see it get redeveloped in future.

Another golf course that probably won't be redeveloped is Sembawang Country Club. For starters, it's located right between Sembawang Airbase and Nee Soon Camp.

Plus, as stated in the 2014 MinLaw press release, the land is under Mindef and doesn't have a lease expiry.

Some golf courses are not feasible for redevelopment

Some golf courses are too close to nature reserves, and are less accessible for residents. So it might actually be better that they remain in their current state.

(It's probably also a good idea to keep a few golf courses in the country, so that Singapore remains attractive to the rich, who are the main demographic of the sport.)

Golf courses bring some benefits to the ecosystem

While golf courses have environmental impacts, a CNA article quoted Assistant Professor Perrine Hamel from NTU's Asian School of the Environment that they can also provide ecosystem services and support biodiversity.

She added that redeveloping golf courses near "ecologically sensitive areas" can disrupt the balance.

Examples of such golf courses include Singapore Island Country Club at the Bukit and Island locations.

Both leases had expired initially in Dec 2021, but were renewed to Dec 2030 for the Bukit course and Dec 2040 for the Island course.

(The other 18-hole course at Sime is now under Keppel Club, but its lease also expires in 2030.) 

These golf courses are not feasible to be redeveloped for housing as they are located next to MacRitchie Reservoir, Upper Peirce Reservoir and Lower Peirce Reservoir –p which are all part of the Central Water Catchment.

Moreover, as stated in the 2019 URA Master Plan, there are already land plots next to them that are designated for residential use.

These include Windsor Nature Park next to the Island golf course, and the area near Sime Road and Adam Drive next to the Bukit and Sime golf courses.

Likewise, because of its proximity to the Upper Seletar Reservoir (which is also part of the Central Water Catchment), we probably won't see the Mandai Executive Golf Course get redeveloped for residential use.

According to the 2014 MinLaw press release, the land is held in trust by PUB, so it doesn't have a lease expiry.

On the other hand, a 2021 Straits Times article quoted a PUB spokesman that the agency had decided to return the land to the state. So it remains to be seen if it continues to be used as a golf course.

In the same vein, there's a low likelihood that we'll see the National Service Resort and Country Club (NSRCC) at Kranji course get redeveloped for housing.

Given that it's sandwiched between Kranji Reservoir and the farms at Lim Chu Kang, the site is not accessible enough for future residents.

But if it ever gets redeveloped, it makes more sense if it's turned into a farm, rather than BTOs and condos. This is especially since Singapore aims to increase its local food production.

Similarly, in the case of Seletar Country Club, it's right between Lower Seletar Reservoir and Seletar Airport, making it an unconducive area to be built for housing.

This article was first published in

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