Sentosa Golf Club (SGC) has scored a hole-in-one as it was named the World's Best Golf Club at last night's annual World Golf Awards.
SGC's general manager and director of agronomy Andrew Johnston, who was in Abu Dhabi to receive the trophies - Sentosa's Serapong was also named Singapore's best golf course - told The Straits Times yesterday: "It still hasn't sunk in. It's not often you can call yourself No. 1.
"This is a great achievement for not just the club, but also Singapore. We've shown we are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world."
The World's Best Golf Club is a new category introduced at this year's awards, which began in 2014. Factors like overall quality of the facility on a day-to-day basis, number of world-class tournaments hosted, commitment to environmental sustainability and junior golf are taken into account.
Votes were cast by professionals working within the golf industry and by the public (golf tourism consumers).
While there was no award for Best Golf Club in previous years, the iconic St Andrews Links in Scotland, commonly referred to as the home of golf, had won the previous five World's Best Golf Course titles.
SGC has two courses, Serapong and New Tanjong, whose current land leases expire in 2030 and 2040 respectively.
Serapong, which hosts the Singapore Open men's tournament, was ranked 58th in the biennial Golf Digest's World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses in 2016. It was 79th on last year's list.
The New Tanjong course underwent a $32 million facelift in 2016 and is the venue for the HSBC Women's World Championships.
RECOGNITION FOR S'PORE
From Formula One to the great golf tournaments Sentosa hosts, it's events like these that help to put Singapore in the spotlight and enhance our tourism products. And to have Sentosa Golf Club recognised with such a prestigious accolade is further recognition for this great city.
SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD CHAIRMAN CHALY MAH
Singapore Tourism Board chairman Chaly Mah said: "From Formula One to the great golf tournaments Sentosa hosts, it's events like these that help to put Singapore in the spotlight and enhance our tourism products.
"And to have Sentosa Golf Club recognised with such a prestigious accolade is further recognition for this great city."
SGC's membership is capped at its current size of about 1,500 members, with 70 per cent of them local. According to membership brokerage SingGolf, the last transactions were $260,000 (local) and $400,000 (foreign).
Visitors are allowed to play at SGC but the green fees (ranging from $350 to $480 before goods and services tax) are among the most expensive in Singapore.
That does not stop it from welcoming 8,000 golfers a month, of which about half are walk-ins and usually full-fee paying.
Mr Johnston said that the latest award is likely to boost interest in the club in the way the Golf Digest rankings and live television coverage of the courses during the Singapore Open and HSBC Women's World Championships had previously done.
Singapore's top professional Quincy Quek, who is ranked 499th in the world and has played multiple events at the club, said: "From the golf reception to the bag handlers and starters, they always greet you with a smile and make you feel welcome at the club. I always enjoy my experience at Sentosa."
The inaugural Singapore Golf Industry Report last year noted there are about 80,000 golfers here.
It collated information from all 12 private country clubs and found that 55 per cent of the 46,000 who held memberships were over the age of 55, while men made up 83 per cent of all members.
Raffles Country Club and Jurong Country Club have closed in recent years, while Keppel Club and Marina Bay Golf Club are also due to shut when their leases expire in the next decade.