For a relative small fry, Singapore boasts some tasty stats. The ‘little red dot’ at the tip of the Malay Peninsula has the highest percentage of millionaires in the world and its ship port handles nearly 50% of the global crude oil supply.
Meanwhile, the city state’s plethora of dining options keeps its population of just over 5million stuffed to the gills with everything from sumptuous fare endorsed by Michelin-starred chefs to local hawker stand favorites such as laksa, fish head curry and bak kut teh.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that this tiny country – it measures just 714.3km squared and only 50kilometres from East to West and 25kilometres from North to South at its furthest extremities – has managed to foster such a healthy contingent of top-notch golf courses.
Despite serious demands on space there are around 30 courses from which to choose. Layouts range from world-renowned tracks such as the Serapong course at Sentosa Golf Club – famous to global television audiences as the host of the annual Singapore Open – to less vaunted, yet still exemplary, courses such as Warren Country Club and the Palm at Raffles Country Club.
Unsurprisingly there’s a good deal of variety to be found among all these beauties. While some, like the Bukit course at Singapore Island and the Garden course at Tanah Merah, offer supremely challenging golf in wonderfully bucolic tropical parkland surrounds, others are more open in style and offer a blend of undulating links-style mounding and American target golf.
Among the top draws, the Garden course at Tanah Merah is an immaculately conditioned layout that winds its way around lakes and through palms and tropical hardwoods. At Sentosa, both the Tanjong and the Serapong courses are stellar tests with the latter just edging matters on points. The first nine holes of the Serapong snake through heavily wooded land, while the second loop – which was routed on reclaimed land – is more open in character.
If there’s a drawback to golf in Singapore it is exorbitant pricing (prices of around S$200 are the norm for a midweek round and tariffs break the S$300-400 mark at weekends) and a slightly buttoned up atmosphere. Dress codes are strict – collars are de rigueur – while many clubs have restrictions on non-member play.
Nevertheless, it is well worth negotiating these obstacles to experience a golfing destination that lives up to the sobriquet of ‘small but perfectly formed.’