Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

75 T he island city-state of Singapore is, according to the 2020 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the most expensive place in the world to live (actually joint first with Hong Kong and Osaka in Japan). Its 6.5 million population lives in an area of only 720 square kilometres, making Singapore the second most densely populated sovereign state (after Monaco) on Earth. And, after Qatar and Luxembourg, it has the world’s third highest GDP per head. Unsurprisingly, therefore, a fact of life in Singapore is heavy-duty competition for the state’s most prized resource – land. None of Singapore’s sixteen golf facilities (twelve private clubs and four public courses) owns its land. All lease it from the government, which has expressed a desire to reduce the amount of land that is used for golf in the country. No golf facility in Singapore currently has a guarantee that it will continue to exist beyond 2040. Founded by Royal Air Force officers in 1930, Seletar Country Club’s present-day course was designed by Chris Pitman in 1994 and is located in the north of Singapore alongside the Lower Seletar Reservoir, which supplies most of the city state’s drinking water. Seletar’s lease was due to expire rather sooner than 2040; specifically, in December 2021. As a condition of granting a lease renewal, the government demanded the club give up a 15-metre-wide easement along the edge of the reservoir, to be used as a public pathway. This resulted in a loss of 2.1 hectares of land, with a direct impact on six holes (and, as it turned out, an indirect one on four more) – not the easiest thing to manage on a site that was around 60 hectares, already quite tight by modern standards. Additionally, the club was told that it needed to become 100 per cent self-sustaining in water – in other words, it needed to expand the on-site lake system to store enough water to get through the dry season without taking anything from either groundwater, or the government’s sources. The par-four fifteenth is one of eight holes on the course where the green sits alongside water Photos: Golfplan