Raffles Country Club to make way for rail project

Golf club perfect fit for rail needs

Raffles Country Club occupies an elongated plot measuring 2km end to end, right next to the Tuas Second Link and close to the western end of the proposed Cross Island MRT line. The 143ha plot is the single largest one to be acquired by the Government
Raffles Country Club occupies an elongated plot measuring 2km end to end, right next to the Tuas Second Link and close to the western end of the proposed Cross Island MRT line. The 143ha plot is the single largest one to be acquired by the Government in recent years.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Plot offers suitable size and location near Second Link for high-speed rail, MRT projects

Alternative sites could have been chosen for the new depot and stable facilities for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) and Cross Island MRT line, but none is as suitable as the Raffles Country Club.

The golf club, which occupies an elongated plot measuring 2km end to end, is right next to the Tuas Second Link, offering both the right size and location needed for these facilities, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and experts.

HSR trains will cross from Malaysia into Singapore via a high bridge west of the Second Link before going underground towards a passenger terminus in Jurong East.

Mr Rajan Krishnan, chief executive of the KTC construction group, said that because of the high bridge - which is built 25m above the water - "much more land on our side is needed for trains to approach the tunnels on a gradual gradient".

"The construction cost (of a bridge crossing) is much lower than going undersea, but it requires higher land take," he noted.

 
  • Facility boasts two 18-hole courses

  • Raffles Country Club (RCC) boasts two championship 18-hole golf courses sprawled across 143ha of land.

    Opened in 1988, the club also has facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and a fitness centre.

    It has also hosted golfing events organised by the Singapore Professional Golfers' Association, among others.

    News reports estimate that membership cost $40,000 when the club launched.

    Membership brokerage Singolf currently lists the RCC membership cost for locals at $34,000 on its website. The fee for foreigners is $55,000.

    The club, which currently has around 2,600 members, spent $9.5 million on renovations for a new wing which opened in 2011 after two years of refurbishment.

    In 2013, members rejected a plan for a $26 million upgrade due to uncertainty over the renewal of the site's lease.

WILDLIFE SPOTTING

I come here (Raffles Country Club) about four times a year because I am based in China. It is very unusual. This club has some wild animals like crocodiles and otters... I have even seen lightning hit one of the shelters and the whole roof came down. Luckily, no one was underneath it. But we hope that they will give us a lot of money in compensation so we can walk away happy.

MR ROLAND WEE, 72, who works in the biodegradable plastics industry.


SPRAWLING GROUNDS, BEAUTIFUL SCENERY

I couldn't believe it. The restaurant (which I manage) just moved everything over from Jurong Country Club in September 2015, but today, we heard the news that Raffles Country Club will be acquired too. It is a pity; the space is big and the scenery here is very beautiful. The human traffic is good here too. Office workers come on weekdays and members come on weekends. I have worked in Raffles Country Club for 28 years, so I can't bear to see it go.

MS SHARON QUAH, restaurant manager.


WHICH GOLF CLUB WILL BE NEXT?

You will be worried, as a golfer, about which club is going to go next. I live in the west and it takes me only about 15 minutes to get here. If I want to continue playing golf in the future, I am not sure if I am willing to go to a golf course farther away. I spend four days a week here with my friends. Do they really need so much land?

MS MARIA TEO, who is in her 40s.

The golf club's site is also close to the western end of the proposed Cross Island MRT line (CRL).

Mr Krishnan said this made it doubly efficient for a CRL depot to be located there as well.

"I am a golfer, but given the choice, I would pick Raffles Country Club over, say, the industrial and commercial sites in the vicinity (to acquire)," he added.

Raffles Country Club golf manager Dennis Ee said there are other alternative sites, but he could see why the club was the more suitable choice.

"There is Safti (Military Institute) and Tengah Airbase for instance, but those are crucial defence installations," he said.

"There are industrial plots on the other side of the road, but the Government would have to deal with a lot of stakeholders, versus only one in the case of Raffles Country Club."

Still, Mr Ee said that the whole 36-hole golf club being acquired came as "a surprise".

"We thought only nine or 18 holes would be acquired," he said.

Raffles Country Club is the latest in a string of golf clubs that will go - entirely or in part - in the next few years as Singapore reprioritises its land use needs.

The Republic has among the highest concentrations of golf courses in the region, with 17 clubs occupying 1,500ha.

Even so, Singapore Land Authority chief executive Tan Boon Khai said yesterday: "We are not targeting golf courses for acquisition."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Golf club perfect fit for rail needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe