Sentosa Golf Club may win big in great golf rejig

SINGAPORE - The "leaderboard" in the golf membership market is set to change dramatically, following the announcement on club leases.

Sentosa Golf Club, the only one among the premier venues that emerged unscathed, saw its price rise overnight from $238,000 to $250,000. It is winning without removing even a club from its bag.

Meanwhile, Keppel Club and Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) could see membership prices slide, with each slated to lose a stake in the sport when their leases expire in about seven years' time.

Sentosa's prices, on the other hand, could rise to $350,000, according to golf membership broker Fion Phua from Tee Up Marketing.

Director of Singolf Services Lee Lee Langdale added that Sentosa Golf Club may well become the club with the "most sought-after memberships".

When MyPaper spoke to the club's president, Mr Low Teo Ping, over the phone yesterday, the man seemed to be in good spirits. He believes that people "don't have to worry too much" about the impending changes.

"It's just like if (someone) takes away the chicken rice at your hawker centre, you kick up a fuss at first," said Mr Low. "But it's not like you eat chicken rice every day. Just let it pass."

Tanah Merah Country Club is losing some land from its Garden Course, but government compensation - and a planned redesign - will soften the blow.

Mid-tier clubs - like Raffles Country Club, Warren Golf & Country Club and Seletar Country Club - could also gain traction among golfers here.

"They are smaller clubs that retain lots of greenery and a quiet charm," said Ms Phua. Their membership prices are also affordable and could gain from the overall cut in supply.

However, Golf Digest Singapore editor Tan Ju Kuang said that, in the long run, the economy would have a bigger influence on prices.

Ms Langdale noted that the exit of Orchid Country Club, when its renewed lease expires in 2030, could push members towards the neighbouring Seletar Country Club.

Keppel Club, which will not be offered a new lease when its current one expires in 2021, is the hardest hit. Membership prices are currently at $16,000, about one fifth its peak at $77,000 in 1990.

SICC will be losing one of its two 18-hole courses at the Bukit location, which is slated to be reallocated as a public course. Memberships are currently priced at about $200,000, down from $225,000 in 2007.

Professional golfer Lam Chih Bing, a member of SICC, worries about course congestion.

"When there are fewer golf courses, there will be fewer golfers. It makes it even more difficult for someone to pick up golf," noted the 37-year-old.

"This is not just for SICC. It's a pity in general."

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