Nine clubs to offer selected discounts

Low rates in October offer unprecedented access to Singapore's exclusive courses

They are usually the exclusive domain of members but for two weeks in October, some of Singapore's most prestigious country clubs will open their doors to the wider golfing public.

As part of a special arrangement with the Singapore Golf Association (SGA) in celebration of SG50, nine local clubs will offer heavily discounted rates - some as low as 65 per cent - to Singaporeans and permanent residents on selected days to play at their premises.

The initiative - which is on a first-come-first-served basis and valid for the stated date and period (refer to table for conditions) - was put forward by SGA president Bob Tan, who wanted to encourage greater participation of the sport.

He told The Straits Times: "We spread out the offer over two weeks to enable golfers to take full advantage of these discounts. This is also part of SGA's effort in our engagement programme to reach out to the community."

About 36,000 players have SGA-registered handicaps, which act as a licence to play at the various local clubs.

While most clubs allow walk-ins - a golfer can play without needing to be accompanied by a member - these slots are usually limited and green fees are higher than normal rates for a member's guest.

GETTING ONTO THE GREENS

We spread out the offer over two weeks to enable golfers to take full advantage of these discounts.

BOB TAN, president of the Singapore Golf Association, explaining how its engagement programme aims to reach out to the wider golfing community

For example at Raffles Country Club near the Tuas Checkpoint, a walk-in round in the morning cost around $200.

Those who register under the SGA-SG50 scheme can play on the picturesque Lake Course on Oct 5 for less than half that amount.

At the Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC) where a round at its Tampines Course will cost almost $230, a morning slot on Oct 6 is available for $99 (excluding GST).

Said Sentosa Golf Club president Low Teo Ping: "It's a great opportunity to allow golfers the chance to appreciate some of our world-class courses, which host major tournaments like the Singapore Open."

There will be 26 flights offered for each morning and afternoon session, depending on the terms for each club.

A minimum two-ball is required to secure a booking, which opens between three to eight days prior to the scheduled date of play.

The savings and access will be welcomed by amateurs across the island, noted Society of Singapore Golfers president Raymond Tan.

Half of his 400 members do not belong to local golf clubs - where membership for the likes of TMCC costs more than $100,000 - and have to travel to neighbouring Johor Bahru, Batam or Bintan to play.

He said: "For a lot of these guys, they rarely get a chance to play at one of these premium clubs so this is great news for them."

Given the limited disruption to the various clubs, members were happy to support the proposal.

The sleepy Seletar Country Club (SCC) does not allow walk-ins onto its challenging 18-hole course. It is making an exception on Oct 9 and for $70 will be available for general play.

Said SCC member Arthur Loh: "It's definitely a step in the right direction. Clubs need to become more inclusive and find ways to bring golf to the wider public."

While the SGA's initiative earned praise among local golfers, the importance of similar deals in the future was also noted.

Many clubs operate only at full capacity on weekends while they are rarely crowded on weekdays, said Poh Eng Teck, managing director of golf academy Poh Brothers Golf.

He added: "By letting the public in and keeping rates affordable, it's a win-win for everyone. The clubs can generate more revenue and we can bring more people into golf."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'NINE CLUBS TO OFFER SELECTED DISCOUNTS'. Print Edition | Subscribe