I know more than a few people in Singapore who own a full set of golf clubs which they never use. That’s because there was a time when many people dreamed of picking up golf when they finally became rich enough to buy a country club membership.
Some of these people hadn’t even had the chance to receive proper golf training or become decent at the game. That’s how aspirational golf was back then, in the days when the country club component of the 5Cs was taken seriously.
That was more than two decades ago, but these days golf is a lot less popular. It’s safe to say nobody really cares about belonging to a country club unless it was something they grew up with due to their parents having memberships.
And golf as a sport is now hardly the stuff of dreams. Here’s why the sport is losing its appeal amongst Singaporeans.
Redefinition of the good life
Back in the 90s, many of my primary school classmates’ parents belonged to country clubs and played golf. When I was 10, someone even asked me, “So, which country club does your family go to?” Having no idea that this was something one had to have money to do, I was genuinely puzzled as to why my family did not belong to a country club, too.
It seems country clubs were much more attractive to affluent Singaporeans back then than they are now. There was definitely the feeling that a large number of middle class families had a club membership of some sort.
These days, young people define the “good life” differently. Aspirations are shifting, and many young people now aspire to be their own boss rather than work for The Man and play golf with other suits on the weekends.
To many young Singaporeans, the “good life” is being able to show off that you’re travelling to exotic countries on your Instagram account which of course has tons of followers, not playing golf with bankers in some country club.
People have less time and shorter attention spans
While it might take only an hour to practise your swing at the driving range, a proper game of golf takes a long time at about four to six hours, or even longer if you suck.
Singaporeans work some of the world’s longest hours now, and work hours have risen over the decades. Simply put, young Singaporeans today have less free time than their parents did. And the time commitment golf requires is something most are not ready or able to afford.
Fewer golf clubs
The number of places to play golf in Singapore has shrunk significantly over the past few years.
Just a few weeks back, it was announced that Raffles Country Club would be acquired by the government for the construction of the upcoming Singapore-KL High Speed Rail.
In fact, the number of golf clubs in Singapore is falling steady. There were 22 golf clubs in 2001. Now there are 17, and by 2030 there will be only 13 due to government land acquisition.
People network differently now
In the 90s, many people learnt how to play golf because it was a useful skill to have when it came to networking.
But it seems golf is no longer as important in the business world as it used to be, not just in Singapore but everywhere. In the US, the number of golfers has fallen by 20% over the last 8 years.
In Singapore, the business networking landscape looks very different than it used to.
Those in the tech industry flock to hackathons, the bar scene is filled with mixers organised for interest groups and industries every night of the week and companies are sending their employees for organised events like Stanchart Marathon.
Given all these opportunities to meet people, forking out the cash to buy a set of clubs and become proficient at golf seems completely pointless.
Do you play golf? Tell us why or why not in the comments!