CLOCKS ABOVE the reception at Singapore Island Country Club show the hour in Augusta, Georgia, and St Andrews in Scotland—both places with famously
CLOCKS ABOVE the reception at Singapore Island Country Club show the hour in Augusta, Georgia, and St Andrews in Scotland—both places with famously wonderful golf courses. But time may be running short for golf in Singapore. The government is forcing some courses to shrink or close. Greens will give way to cranes; irons to concrete and steel.
Golf in the city-state has had powerful champions. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, loved it. (Golf was his “principal recreation and passion,” said his son, Lee Hsien Yang, in 2015.) The royal and ancient game was once a symbol of middle-class aspiration, says Harvey Neo, a geographer at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities. During the 1990s and 2000s Singaporeans were said to covet the “5cs”: cash, car, condominium, credit card and country-club membership.
Yet in 2013 the government, which owns most of the land in Singapore, announced that it would gradually reallocate much of the space taken up by golf courses to public housing and infrastructure. The ruling party, stung by its disappointing performance at elections in 2011, felt it needed to respond to critics who said that it was out of touch with ordinary Singaporeans and who argued that it had overcrowded the tiny island by welcoming too many immigrants. At the time of its announcement 2.1% of Singapore’s land was given over to greens and fairways. By…