Golf Courses in Singapore
Course-by-Course Introduction to the Golf Courses on the Island of Singapore
Sentosa Golf Club – Snugly tucked at the southern-most end of and just a hop across from the main thoroughfare of the Singapore Island, Sentosa Island was formerly for the dead, an out-back island of cemeteries. Thanks to progress which not only revived it but also gave it a new name ‘Sentosa’ meaning ‘tranquility’ in the local language. There are two 18-hole courses there with the Frank Pennick-designed Par-72 6,014-yard Tanjong Course being the earlier, the other is the Par-72 7,293-yard Serapong Course designed and built by Ronald Fream in the early 80s. Both courses play to tropical green hills and flats with many lakes and ponds in between as obstacles as well as contributing to the esthetics of the entire surrounding.
More popular of the two is the Serapong with the first 9 reaching out eastward to a big lagoon and having several holes playing along the water edge on the left, engulfing the lagoon, before turning back to the starting point for the second 9 which zig-zags westwards with many water holes in between. The Par-5 569-yard Hole#4 is of particular interest, testing confidence of a good t-shot over water with many bunkers along the target line just before the landing area. Unless the player can do it in two, the dog-leg left leads to more sand traps and water hazard just before the green. The Par-3 201-yard Hole#14 tests control of long shots over water to a large green heavily fronted by bunkers. The green is flanked by water on both sides and slopes to the left with water coming quite close to the green.
[2017 Update: This has become a member-only course]
The Tanjong offers a quiet surrounding away from Sentosa Island as the latter is away from the hussle and buzzle of the city proper. Being at the southern tip of the island, it offers a superb view of the sea south including some islands of Indonesia. The earlier holes play along water’s edge to the right; the Par-3 178-yard Hole#2 is the most representative and momorable with an island green off an elevated t-box. Being out in the open, the strength and direction of the oceon breeze often decide club selection, but ultimately hitting a clean shot is a must for this hole. The course winds through park land of hills and flats punctuated by many water holes for much of its way back east and north along some tight fairways flanked by mature trees.
Tanah Merah Country Club of Singapore – As an annex to Changi Airport of Singapore, this is likely the first golf club in the republic one would get a glimpse of if arriving by air. Built on reclaimed land (just as the airport is), it consists of two good 18-hole courses – the Par-72 7,001-yard Garden Course and the Par-72 7,022-yard Tampines Course. Over time, these two courses were further improved by various famous architects and course designers.
The Garden, for members and their guests only, is a relatively open but undulating course with mounds but not many trees. Deep sand pits with almost verticle sidings and ponds are the major threats for good score. The Par-3 143-meter Signature Hole#3 tees off to an island green (with a narrow access actually). Beautiful layout but a good score depends much on the pin position as the hole plays downhill and often in windy condition. Another Par-3, the 182-meter Hole#8 is more challenging with water coming right up to the front and the entire left side of the green which slopes to the front.
The Tampines, open to visitors, plays to about the same terrain as the Garden. But there are more trees here lining tighter fairways and water hazard is the main obstacle for the early holes of the home 9. The sharp dog-leg right of the Par-4 345-meter Hole#1 will get all systems going. Bunkers and tall tress at the turn just before the 100-meter marker will prevent many from getting to ‘see’ the green without an extra shot. The Par-4 383-meter Hole#12 tees off at the edge of a big lake to the fairway on an island for the second landing shot to the green which is at the opposite edge of the lake. This hole tests calmness over visual threats.
Marina Bay Golf Club of Singapore – Relatively new on the island’s golf scene, Marina Bay golf course is only about 5 year-old and is the first course open to the public. Situated in the heart of the island, this Par-72 Phil Jacob-designed 6,542-meter course plays to numerous water holes and bunkers with the city sky-line as the backdrop (or perhaps for better utility, as your t-off reference, if you wish).
Par-3 Hole#13 is the easiest at 119 meters long if the island green with an unusually wide expanse of water before landing is not a psychological barrier. The elevated green accentuates the visual perception of a small landing area relatively to the sea of water surrounding it; but otherwise the experienced will only be concerned with the pin position. The 527-meter Par-5 Hole#18 deceives with an open fairway with well hidden bunkers at strategic distances and positions to make this hole a challenging one. Bunkers and water-crossing await at the approach area to the green thus making decisions for an approach second shot so much more difficult. The relatively wide green provides no comfort with it’s dessert sand dune-shaped surface.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is in service here but it’s for a fee of course; and so is night golf.
The Singapore Island Country Club – Arguably the most ‘famous’ club on the island, The SICC boasts a very large membership owing perhaps to the club’s early inception, accessibility, good management and periphery facilities etc. For this reason, a potential client of ours (A member of SICC obviously) offered to have us in their regular newsletter to its members in exchange for a special discount from us for a golf trip to China for him and friends (Not a club activity, that is). It’s kept us wondering since whether the request was really a practice so acceptable as it was absent from and iconical of the properous and successful Republic!
A mini version of the Mission Hills Golf Resort in Shenzhen if you like, this club has four well-maintained and mature 18-hole courses namely, Bukit Course – 6,748-yard, Island Course – 6,602-meter, Sime Course – 6,561-meter and New Course – 6,824-meter. There’s an additional 9-hole course, the Millennium Course, used for the time being to help budding players ‘acclimatise’ before breaking out loose to the ‘wild’ for a full game.
First open in 1924, the courses have been, not surprisingly, shaped by different famous designers at different times. The key feature is that SICC has won accolades for being one of the best in the region and that it has staged, some claim, all the major tournament in the region.
Situated right in the heart of the island and alongside a nature reserve, this course will always provide an unforgettable experience of golf in the tropic of rainforests. Mostly the five courses feature canopies of age-old rain trees with the fairways, almost invariably flanked by lush greeneries, going downhill on one and up on the other with intermittent ponds and some water ways accompanying to make a beautiful scenery of an evergreen tropical surrounding. And if it rains, and it does often this part of the world, there’s no need to go knocking on the club house door for a refund; just stay dry under shelter and keep feet above water, and just wait out the rain! Everything will soon be back fresh and beautiful for the remaining part of the game.
Keppel Club of Singapore – Together with Marina Bay Golf Club, this Par-72 5,917-meter Ronald Fream-designed course is just about the most easily accessible course from the commercial heart of the island. This is particularly welcoming for those busy all day but not willing to forgo a few hits before home. The course nestles along the nearby southern coast combining both the slopes of the land and the rugged coastal terrain. Accuracy is more vital than hitting long distances. Strategically placed bunkers, the numerous OB areas lining tight fairways and abrupt elevation changes all conspiring to cause bad decisions over choice of club and landing, particularly on the second nine over the undulating coast line.
The Par-5 495-meter Hole#9 has water on the right side of the fairway from t-off, but it’s the water of the pond 1/3-way from the green that makes choice of the landing area for a third shot difficult. To add to the woes of short-hitters, a huge and all-encompassing bunker sits between the pond and the green. Generally, this hole suits long and accurate long hitters. The Par-4 333-meter Hole#17 tests the skill and the variety of shots that a player should equip to play well. The wide uphill fairway appears innocent enough from the t-box until one finds the ball at some oddly-facing facets of the undulating surface. Without the ability to suit your shots to the terrain, reaching the green in regulation could suddenly become a real task; certainly the bunkers on either sides and the front of the green would not help much!
Laguna National Golf & Country Club of Singapore – Voted as one of the four best courses in Singapore, its famous Hole#13 named as one of the ‘Best 500 Holes in the World’ and ‘Asia’s 24 Best Holes’ ranking it with the likes of Augusta National and Pebble Beach in the USA and St. Andrew’s and Carnoustie in the UK, having staged some of the best tournaments in Asia, Laguna National is, as claimed by it’s own club, ‘a premier golf club’ in Singapore. And so it’s open to ordinary members and their guests and some corporate members only.
There are two 18-hole courses here both by Andy Dye to reflect different characters – the Par-72 6,780-yard Classic Course with features typical of courses in the US and the Par-72 7,327-yard Masters Course which bears resemblance to open course architecture of Scotland. The general terrain is that of an open ground with moundings to add to the undulation; large sand pits or just waste areas are a feature on these courses. There are also shallow water hazards with loose rocks to make getting home more interesting, if not a little testy at times. Of the two, there are more trees on the Masters, not surprisingly, with many water hazards to counter with while at the Classic, deep bunkers threaten.