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Golf's sacrifice, society's gain

Golf is not a "casualty of political reckoning, populist policies and a culture of envy", but rather, a logical and equitable sacrifice for the good of society at large ("Why curb Singaporeans' golfing aspirations?"; Jan 15).

First, we must consider the costs and benefits of maintaining golf courses, in the context of our country's limited resources - in this case, chronic land scarcity.

The writer conceded that golfers make up a minuscule segment of Singapore's population. Hence, the potential benefits of allocating vast swathes of land to the sport are inherently limited.

Conversely, the infrastructure that the golf courses will make way for - namely rapid transit and high-speed rail - will be directly advantageous to many more citizens, and have far-reaching socio-economic impact.

Given the choice of one or the other, by dispassionate calculation, it is obvious that the latter option generates substantially greater utility.

Second, it is wrong to equate golf with other symbols of wealth.

High-end condominiums, fast cars, exotic vacations and high-end dining are no doubt conspicuous, but none of those entail such high opportunity cost to the nation as a sprawling golf course does.

By the same token, it is incorrect to insinuate that golf has been targeted purely out of classist spite.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the closure of a few golf courses should not be equated to complete denial of access to the sport, or "curbing" it to any significant extent.

Seasoned and aspiring players can still pursue the activity at the numerous other golfing facilities Singapore has to offer, or even at courses across the Causeway that are still within reasonable driving distance.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Golf's sacrifice, society's gain'. Print Edition | Subscribe