Golf: Millennials taking to Singapore courses, giving local game an upswing

(Clockwise from top) Wan Li Ann, 28, Jeremy Lim (with shades), 31, Charlotte Low, 26, and Zhou Quan, 24, are part of a growing group of young working professionals in Singapore who have recently picked up golf. ST PHOTOS: COURTESY OF LI ANN WAN, JEREMY LIM, ZHOU QUAN, CHARLOTTE LOW

SINGAPORE - As an account manager with an oil and gas company, millennial Li Ann Wan took up golf because her colleagues encouraged her to take to the courses.

She took the plunge 11 months ago and the popular Marina Bay Golf and Country Club teaching pro Lip Ooi took her under his wing.

The mild-mannered 28-year-old was also encouraged by her golf-playing family members and friends to view golf as more than a great pastime.

And it came easily because Li Ann, who was adept at racket sports in her younger days, found golf to be a perfect sport for many reasons.

The Universiti Malaysia Sabah technical engineering graduate, who graduated in 2017, says: "Golf is a great game for networking and building friendships. And I enjoy the camaraderie and interactions with players".

The 30-handicapper makes it a point to play regularly at Marina Bay and now is beginning to enjoy corporate events and is looking forward to one at the Singapore Island Country Club later this month.

In contrast, Jeremy Lim did not have to be induced into the game because he developed a great passion for golf two years ago. He shares this infatuation with close friends with whom he plays three times a month on Saturdays at Sembawang.

"I am addicted to the game now. I go to the Sembawang range on Tuesdays and Thursdays for practice sessions under Italian coach David Bertoli. When free, I also go for range practice," said the zestful UBS wealth management assistant banker.

Lim, 31, is so hooked to the game that he watches all the major events such as the US PGA and the LPGA tournaments. "If the events, as was the recent Ryder Cup, are held overnight, I watch the television replays or I record the programmes and make it a point to view them."

Lim, a 19-handicapper, is proud that he broke 100 (with a 97) off the blue tees at Sembawang exactly a year ago. And one year on last month, he shot a 94 off the black tees, both times playing with his buddies who are single handicappers.

"I will continue to train hard, and my aim is to bring my handicap down to 10 by the end of next year," said Lim, who is also working on increasing his driving distance by at least 10 metres. "Of course, the short game and putting are key elements in a good golf game, however a long drive puts one in a good position," he added.

Social media executive Charlotte Low, 26, joined the golf-playing ranks about eight months ago through the encouragement of her boyfriend Lester Chua, who is also a relatively new player. The pair, both strong windsurfers, are natural sportspeople who met while studying at the Singapore Management University.

Recreational golfer Li Ann Wan practising at the Marina Bay Golf Course. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LI ANN WAN

Chua, 27, a ship broker, is happy that the two proficiency certificate (PC) holders can play together at public courses after having taken lessons at Marina Bay.

He was also responsible for introducing the game to another ex-university friend and windsurfer, Zhou Quan. The polite 24-year Zhou, who works in the advertising industry and is also a PC holder, loves the game because it tests one's mental strength and demands physical fitness.

Li Ann, Lim, Charlotte and Zhou are among the many millennials who have taken up the game and have increased the local playing population during the Covid-19 pandemic period to about 80,000. One reason for this is that popular playing destinations such as Johor, Batam and Bintan are now out of bounds due to the pandemic.

Anecdotal evidence points to driving ranges and easily-accessible public courses, such as The Executive Course in Mandai and the Champions Public Golf Course at Fairways Drive, being patronised by many new entrants to the game.

The newbies say that golf is not only a healthy exercise but also a game that allows for making contacts, teaching patience and discipline and widening the network of friends.

Local golf seems to be on the upswing with the pandemic.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.