Golf fairways to turn into property plays
WITH one smooth swing, the Government is set to change not only Singapore's golfing landscape but also its property terrain.
Prime sites worth billions of dollars will be taken back from Keppel Club and Marina Bay Golf Course for redevelopment when their leases expire.
Keppel Club, which started as a three-hole course on a nutmeg plantation in 1904, is one of the oldest in Singapore, while Marina Bay, launched in 2006, is the youngest. Each boasts a prime location, which probably sealed their fate.
Law Minister K. Shanmugam said: "Where we can allow continuation (of the clubs) and give them a fresh lease, we will. (But) where there's a need for development, the golf courses will have to give way."
Commenting on the land that could be freed up by the two clubs, Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of property consultancy firm Century 21, said: "They're centrally located on the city fringes and come with views of the sea. Properties in such prime locations will always be in demand."
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said that the land on which Keppel Club sits is "needed to redevelop the site for housing" when the club's lease expires in 2021.
The club occupies 44ha of land in Bukit Chermin Road. Its appeal has been boosted by the nearby integrated resort (IR) on Sentosa, as well as neighbouring properties like VivoCity, Reflections at Keppel Bay and Caribbean at Keppel Bay.
"This is prime property," an industry insider had told The Business Times. "Most golf clubs in Singapore sit on water-catchment areas, land adjacent to airports or other real estate which cannot house infrastructure. Having a golf club on this Bukit Chermin site is the least productive use of prime land."
The Marina Bay Golf Course also sits next to an IR and the Singapore Flyer, making its 68ha a potential gold mine. Its lease will not be renewed when it expires in 2024 and the land could be redeveloped for commercial or residential purposes, observers said.
But when Singapore's first and only 18-hole public golf course makes way, MinLaw is keen to "ensure continued public access to golfing facilities". This has, in turn, hit the prestigious Singapore Island Country Club (SICC). One of its two 18-hole courses at the Bukit location will be reallocated as a public course when its lease expires in 2021.
SICC president Tay Joo Soon said: "We are naturally disappointed that the outcome has fallen short of what we had hoped for."
Tanah Merah Country Club will see its lease renewed but the Government will be acquiring a chunk of land from its championship course, Garden, by the year end and six holes will be affected. This is for the expansion of Changi Airport and could hit the elite club hard. NSRCC Changi could lose one third of its golf land.
The 17 golf courses here, which currently sit on approximately 1,500ha of land, will be reduced (by about 13 per cent) to about 1,300ha in total when their leases expire in the next 10 years.
The 200ha shrinkage is the equivalent of more than 250 football fields.