Like everything else, good golf coaches and academies are easily found in Singapore. Academies are located at driving ranges and country clubs. Do note that only some country clubs’ driving ranges are open to public. Example, Seletar Country Club, Warren Country Club, Orchid Country Club, Keppel Golf Club, Jurong Golf Club (shutting down in December 2016). Do call to find out before you land.
There are three public driving ranges without golf course on the island and most of them do have academies too. Toa Payoh Driving Range in the central area, Bukit Batok Golf Range in the North West and Ponggol Driving Range in the North. Do note that most driving ranges are hitting off rubber mats and rarely on natural grass bays as that’s a luxury in Singapore!
Firstly you have to decide on either finding the ‘best” coach or nearest location. Do not try to get your friend, relative or colleague to teach you even though they might be a seasoned or skilful social golfer. Once you develop bad fundamental habits, you can’t get rid of those, or get injured or pay more for more lessons to fix it! Golf can be a very technical sport to learn. Do your research thoroughly before engaging a suitable coach.
Search online for comments, referrals, profile details, experience, videos, websites or simply ask several golfers around you for recommendations and you will surely narrow down to a few names. Do note that Singapore is a small city-state and is worth travelling once a week to a best “suitable” coach for lessons!
Playing in Singapore
There are also three public golf courses with driving range. Marina Bay Golf Course which is the only championship 18-holes public course located at the scenic South side of the island and the other two are mini-Par 3 and Par 4 executive golf courses where newbies and leisure golfers can hone their skills; Champions Public Golf Course and Mandai Executive Golf Course.
You can book your game online at the championship public course Marina Bay Golf Course. There are different rates for local citizens or Permanent Residents and Foreigners and the usual differences of rates on weekdays, weekends and night golfing. Do note that some “Private” country clubs do accept walk-ins for 18-holes bookings. If you check their websites and they offer “Visitor Rate”, then chances are you can pay and play there as most “Guests or Members’ Guest Rates” means you must be accompanied by a member or its resident golf pros for the round.
Singapore is very strict about handicaps. Do remember to take proof of your Golf Handicap card/letter. Or be ready to give a test by hitting a few balls at the range and pay extra for the temporary handicap.
Night Golfing is a unique and “cool” experience for you if you have not tried it! Night golfing courses are well lit-up except some shady trees area, which you should avoid anyway! You can definitely see your ball flight clearly in the night but may have to get used to the multiple shadows at times.
In a hot Singapore climate, a cool night round with cold beer and golf buddies definitely sounds like a fun outing! Night golfing normally starts around 4:30 pm where you play the front nine holes through sunset and the back nine under the moonlight or you can also choose to play only 9-holes after sundown.
The courses that offer Night Golfing are Marina Bay Golf Course (South), Orchid Country Club (North) and Jurong Country Club (West, closing in December 2016).
Golf courses in Singapore are well maintained. With buggies allowed on the fairways speed up play. Only during the wet weather conditions do buggies remain on track. The greens for each course are very different in terms of design and characteristics such as firmness, undulation and speed. There is some unpredictability of weather but nothing to complain about.
“In my 14+ years of living in Singapore, I must have taken only a handful of rain cheques. Singapore is truly a golfer’s paradise. There are plenty of options, great all year weather and phenomenal infrastructure to play, not just during the day but also at night. And then the access to courses in Indonesia and Malaysia provide over 50 different options within an hour of ferry or driving at very reasonable rates. “So Singapore is a great place to live happily ever after for golfers.” says avid golfer and permanent resident Tarunjeet Sarao, Director, Strategic Alliances at HPI, with a tinge of humour.
If you would like to pamper yourself or entertain your client and don’t mind paying more and accessible (signed-in by members), you may want to explore premium tournament courses such as Sentosa Golf Club, Laguna National, Singapore Island Country Club or Tanah Merah Country Club which are premium clubs on the island. Do note that some of these clubs do offer caddie services but you have to request in advance.
Playing in Malaysia and Indonesia
Singapore residents are very lucky to have access to courses across the border or sea in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively. Most of them are within one to two hours travel outside of Singapore. You may drive across the causeway to the state of Johor in Malaysia and access about a dozen courses or take a Ferry to the Southern Indonesian island of Batam or Bintan. Bintan island offers more premium resort courses compares to Batam island courses. The best part is all these courses offers caddie services with a lower golfing cost in comparison to Singapore.
Last but not least, Singapore hosts two major international golf events annually such as Singapore Open (Men) and HSBC Women's’ Champion where top-ranked golfers around the world would compete.
Enjoy your golf and if you have any questions at all pertaining golf in the region, do feel free to contact me at Lip@LipGolf.com.