Remember the good old days when spending the weekend golfing at your country club was the ultimate status symbol?
Well, times have changed, and unless you are over the age of fifty, living the good life is now more about instagramming pics of your year-long sabbatical spent travelling in South America.
What’s more, many country clubs’ main draw used to be their golf clubs. Today, golf is falling out of favour with Singaporeans, especially as there are activities as diverse as MMA, aerial yoga and windsurfing available. And we’re out of the dark ages, so nobody needs to pay six figures just to use swimming pools and tennis courts. In fact, it could even be free.
But country clubs are still (somewhat) alive and well, regardless of what young upstarts think.
Here’s how some of Singapore’s country clubs still manage to survive despite the current decline of country club memberships.
Orchid Country Club at Yishun
For most of us plebs, the only time we’ll step into a country club is when we’re invited to a wedding. Clubs like Orchid Country Club often have on-site ballrooms and accommodation that are quite luxurious and offer decent value for money.
In fact, Orchid Country Club has stayed relevant by rebranding itself as a resort. The club offers guest rooms which can be reserved on sites like booking.com or Agoda. Guests get to use the club’s facilities such as the swimming pools, tennis courts, spa and golf course.
For couples tying the knot, the club also serves as a wedding venue. It has a grand ballroom and several smaller suites, and offers wedding packages complete with menu, flowers, bridal suite and shuttle bus for guests.
Orchid Country Club membership fees
|Orchid Country Club term membership||Cost|
|Weekday Term Golfing Membership||$1,800 per year or $4,600 per 3 years|
|Term Individual Local Social Membership (no golfing privileges)||$1,500 per year|
|Term Individual Foreign Golfing (Gold)||$10,000 for 1 year (one-time)|
Address: 1 Orchid Club Rd, Singapore 769162
Aranda Country Club at Pasir Ris
Here’s another club that has taken advantage of its spacious grounds to become a hotel and resort. In particular, their location in Pasir Ris has made them a popular choice for guests looking for simple, family-style chalet accommodation from which to enjoy the nearby seaside.
Aranda Country Club’s accommodations are quite basic and unpretentious, and they also have facilities that are meant to appeal to the everyday Singaporean, such as karaoke rooms, a sauna, a swimming pool, a jackpot room, barbecue facilities and in-room mahjong tables.
To sweeten the deal, Passion Card members get a discount on executive suites and more.
Full memberships at Aranda Country Club
|Full membership at Aranda Country Club||Cost|
|Monthly subscription fee||$45|
Term memberships at Aranda Country Club
|Term memberships at Aranda Country Club||Cost|
|Family members & friends||$750 per year|
|Children||$400 to $600 per membership per year|
Address: 60 Pasir Ris Drive 3, Singapore 519497
Singapore Island Country Club at Bukit Timah
While the popularity of golf in Singapore has dwindled and some clubs have been made to cede their golf courses for redevelopment, Singapore Island Country Club continues to be one of the most sought-after clubs for golf although they too are going to lose some of their land in 2021.
They’ve got some of the best-looking most immaculate golf courses in Singapore, with four 18-hole layouts and scenic terrains. Even as the number of golfers dwindles in Singapore, an SICC membership continues to be coveted by those who do play, especially as they are notoriously exclusive—non-members cannot play there unless a member introduces them.
Getting a membership in Singapore Island Country Club is quite the process, you will first need to be admitted as a “provisional member”, go through an introduction night and then get issued with a signature card that needs to be signed by members of General Committee Members and captains.
But, if you just want to play golf and mingle, skip this serious process by getting a term membership instead. The only difference is that you don’t have voting rights or the right to hold office. It’s still gonna cost you a good fortune, however. See below.
Membership fees at Singapore Island Country Club
|Term membership at Singapore Island Country Club||Cost|
|Entrance fee||$24,000 (excluding GST) per year|
Address: 240 Sime Rd, Singapore 288303
Seletar Country Club at Seletar
Here is another club that has managed to maintain a good reputation for golfing despite the shrinking market. They’ve got a well-maintained 18 hole course that has the benefit of the beauty of the Lower Seletar Reservoir and is challenging enough to attract serious golfers.
Their location makes the course stand out, as they have water bodies as well as a view of the Lower Seletar Reservoir, and birds are often seen on the course.
Compared to Singapore Island Country Club or Tanah Merah Country Club, Seletar Country Club has relatively flexible memberships, which translates to more affordable membership fees.
Like them, however, you wouldn’t be able to get an ordinary membership anymore so the only way is to get it transferred to you by an existing member.
|Memberships at Seletar Country Club||Entrance fee||Transfer fee||Monthly subscription|
|Seletar Lifestyle Membership||
$2,088+ (1 year)
$3,288+ (2 years)
$4,688+ (3 years)
Address: 101 Seletar Club Rd, Singapore 798273
Tanah Merah Country Club at Tanah Merah
Tanah Merah Country Club’s two golf courses continue to be its biggest draw, with artificial lakes aplenty. They will, however, lose some of the area on one of their courses in 2021.
So it was a smart move for them to to start promoting other activities, such as their numerous classes, some of the most popular being cooking and banking classes conducted by famous chefs and instructors.
There are no more new memberships at country club so you can only be a full-fledged member if you transfer. However, they have term memberships (no voting rights, cannot hold office) that are charged at a flat rate of $25,680 per year. This is quite on par with Singapore Island Country Club.
|Term membership at Tanah Merah Country Club||Cost|
|Entrance fee||$25,680 per year|
Address: 153 Xilin Ave, Singapore 486799
How will country clubs survive as the government takes back their land?
The fate of country clubs hangs in the balance as the Singapore Land Authority takes back land for redevelopment following expiry of their leases.
Raffles Country Club had to give up its entire site when its lease was not renewed beyond 2018 due to the High Speed Railway. This effectively decimated the club and left members high and dry. Another club that will have to give up its site is Keppel Club, which will make way for HDB flats at the end of 2021.
Orchid Country Club’s fate also hangs in the balance, as their lease will not be renewed after 2030. Meanwhile, SICC will have to give up one of its golf courses in 2021.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many of Singapore’s country clubs have leases that expire in 2030 or 2040, and the government has been tight-lipped about whether these leases will be renewed.
A few might survive if they manage to create a profitable niche for themselves in non-golf related services. But it’s safe to say that the era of going to country clubs to play golf is over.
Do you think country clubs in Singapore have a chance of survival? Share your views in the comments!