Golf memberships

Golf membership prices dip in wake of land recalls

Membership price at Singapore Island Country Club (above) has fallen to about $175,000 this year, from $200,000 in 2014.
Membership price at Singapore Island Country Club (above) has fallen to about $175,000 this year, from $200,000 in 2014.ST FILE PHOTO

They will rise again as affected players seek alternatives: Brokers

Golf club membership prices here have mostly fallen from two years ago after buyers stopped trading in memberships in the wake of government announcements that it was taking back the land from three clubs and that two others would not have their leases renewed.

Data from broker Tee-Up Marketing Enterprises showed the value of most of its 10 golf club memberships traded on the open market fell by about $13,350 on average this year, compared with 2014, when the announcements were made.

There are 17 golf courses here, but the number will fall to 13 by 2031.

Clubs such as Sentosa Golf Club (SGC) and Tanah Merah Country Club saw the highest drops of $30,000. Their open market memberships cost $245,000 and $130,000 in 2014 respectively.

A spokesman for broker Active Golf Services said the firm's transactions across all clubs have fallen by 10 to 20 per cent a year in the past few years. At Singapore Island Country Club (SICC), membership price fell from about $200,000 in 2014 to about $175,000 this year, said a spokesman.

Despite the recent fall in prices, experts expect prices of golf club memberships to go up in future as the number of golf clubs declines.

People are now treating golf memberships more as lifestyle purchases and less as invest- ments, they said.

Two golf membership brokers contacted said the drop in prices was not drastic, and they expect prices to rise again as players from clubs due to close buy new memberships to continue playing the sport.

Said Tee-Up broker Fion Phua: "Golf clubs will never lose their charm. You cannot dig an 18-hole course in your living room, so you still need a course to play."

  • GOLF COURSE CHANGES

  • In February 2014, the Government announced that six of nine golf clubs here with leases expiring within the next 10 years would be affected by redevelopment.

    KEPPEL CLUB

    • No new lease

    • Current lease ending 2021

    MARINA BAY GOLF COURSE

    • No new lease

    • Current lease ending 2024

    ORCHID COUNTRY CLUB

    • One final new lease, ending 2030

    TANAH MERAH COUNTRY CLUB

    • New leases for its two courses until 2035 and 2040

    • Lost about 10ha of land - including six holes from its Garden course - to new taxiways for Changi Airport

    NATIONAL SERVICE RESORT AND COUNTRY CLUB

    • New lease until 2040

    • Lost its nine-hole Air Force Course and part of its Par-3 nine-hole Executive Course to new taxiways for Changi Airport and realignment of Changi Coast Road

    SINGAPORE ISLAND COUNTRY CLUB

    • New leases for two of its three courses until 2030 and 2040

    • The last course, one of its Bukit location courses, will be run as a public course when the lease expires in 2021 to replace Marina Bay Golf Course

    CHANGI GOLF CLUB, SELETAR COUNTRY CLUB AND SENTOSA GOLF CLUB

    • New leases until 2040

    JURONG COUNTRY CLUB

    • Acquired in 2015 as a site to build a terminal for the high-speed Singapore-Malaysia rail link;

    will have to hand over the land by November this year.

She said the market is currently buoyed by foreigners, who form two-thirds of buyers for memberships in clubs such as SGC and SICC.

There are also businessmen who prefer having a golf membership when entertaining foreign clients.

Ms Phua said that local buyers are now primarily concerned about the lease duration of a club instead of the resale value of memberships and existing members are using their memberships for exercise rather than selling them for profit.

Singolf broker Lee Lee Langdale said local buyers are pickier and will now compare clubs' prices, location, facilities and reputation before buying a membership.

The number of golfers here with a handicap stood at 36,520 this January, up from 32,270 last year, according to the Singapore Golf Association .

Its membership executive, Mr Ong Kian Hui, said the government announcements would neither affect the number of golfers nor the popularity of the sport here.

The recent drop in golf membership prices notwithstanding, lawyer Justin Chia, 50, is concerned that prices will go up in future, with fewer golf courses.

Mr Chia, a member of the National Service Resort and Country Club in Changi, said the influx of new members from affected clubs has made it harder to book a slot to play.

He compared Singapore with similarly land-scarce Hong Kong, where many golfers go to places in China to play.

He said: " There are fewer holes but more golfers. If the Government continues to reduce the number of clubs, memberships will soon become very expensive and exclusive.

"We might all end up going to Malaysia to play instead."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Prices dip in wake of land recalls'. Print Edition | Subscribe