Golf course usage 'no bearing on lease'

How frequently a golf course is used will have no bearing on whether the authorities renew its land lease, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has stated.

It said lease renewal will be based on planning considerations such as whether the land is required for other purposes.

In January, the Government announced that some golf course land here may be taken back for other uses - leaving many members worried and causing club membership prices to fall.

Responding to media queries, the SLA said measures such as utilisation are "not meant to be used as criteria for lease extension".

Some golf club members had raised questions over a letter by Raffles Country Club president Simon Yuen sent last week. It said: "(SLA) is considering matrices such as members per holes ratio, course utilisation rate and other relevant matters to assess merits of golf courses. Under such circumstances, the lease of some golf clubs will not be renewed and some might be renewed with new terms and conditions."

The letter was sent out to members after the club's management met the authorities, including representatives of the Ministry of Law and the SLA.

Mr Keith Liang, 32, a Keppel Club member, wrote in to The Straits Times wondering if Mr Yuen's letter meant there was a chance the club's land may not be taken back when its lease expires in about eight years.

"There is a perception that clubs which have some time left till their leases expire can go on overdrive on membership recruitment to hit those utilisation targets so their land won't be taken back," he said.

An SLA spokesman said measures such as utilisation rates were raised during talks with the 13 golf and country clubs here.

But it is still exploring how these indicators can be reflected in new terms and conditions, for clubs granted lease extensions.

The spokesman said the SLA will be in a better position to inform golf clubs of lease extensions early next year.

The SLA added that it will give clubs with more than 10 years left on their leases early notice if their leases cannot be extended due to other land use needs or development plans.

Mr Yuen's letter also stated that "there was no plan not to renew (the club's) lease in 2028".

When asked if SLA had confirmed Raffles Country Club's lease extension, the SLA spokesman said: "It will be premature to comment on whether or not specific leases will be extended."

rjscully@sph.com.sg