The recently announced acquisition of Raffles Country Club (RCC), following the gazetting of Jurong Country Club for acquisition in 2015, might make some Singapore golfers believe that they are an endangered species. Given the closure of Keppel Club and Marina Bay Golf Club, when their leases expire in the next 10 years, there will be 13 golf clubs in Singapore by 2030, down from 17 now. This figure itself represents a decline from 22 clubs in 2001. Notwithstanding its reputation as a game for the rich and the powerful, golf is a relaxing and gracious sport that has a legitimate place in the recreational life of the nation. In turn, Singapore’s best golf courses place it firmly on the golfing map of the world.
However, the 36,000 golfers with a handicap here would recognise that they constitute a minuscule part of the population, and that their game is a land-intensive activity in a tiny island city-state. Land acquisition has become an accepted way of life in the developmental history of contemporary Singapore, stretching from villages and private homes to graveyards. Without land acquisition, it simply would not have been possible for Singapore to have embarked on transformative public housing and the expanding transport networks which citizens take for granted today. The RCC’s 143ha site in Tuas will be required for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail and the new Cross Island Line’s western depot.