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Four golf clubs to find out fate of their courses on Sunday

Four golf clubs will find out on Sunday whether their courses will have to make way for redevelopment when their leases expire.

SINGAPORE: Four golf clubs will find out on Sunday whether their courses will have to make way for redevelopment when their leases expire.

Government agencies will meet with members of Keppel Club, Singapore Island Country Club (SICC), Tanah Merah Country Club, and the National Service Resort & Country Club at separate briefing sessions.

Singapore has 17 golf courses that sit on some 1,500 hectares of land, making up some two percent of the country's total land area.

The number may seem small but not for land-scarce Singapore.

Asst Prof Harvey Neo from the National University of Singapore's Department of Geography, said: "Compared to other countries, my sense is that we do have too many golf courses, golf clubs, and that the land area that they take up is, compared to other places, really high.

"Studies have shown in Japan, for example, which is another country that has many, many golf courses, it's about 1.2 percent or low 1 percent. And that's Japan. So I would say yes, a lot of land has been devoted to golf courses in Singapore."

In the Land Use Plan released last year, the government said some golf courses will make way for redevelopment.

It is part of plans to increase Singapore's land supply to accommodate a projected population of 6.9 million by 2030.

Most golf courses operate on 30-year leases, with many expiring between 2021 and 2030.

Experts say that with an increasing population, there is an urgency to maximise the use of land in Singapore. Golf courses become immediate targets because they occupy large plots of land and are used by a smaller number of people.

Speculation is rife that Keppel Club and the Singapore Island Country Club could be hardest hit when their leases expire in 2021, with SICC potentially losing at least one of its four golf courses.

Depending on the location of these golf courses, experts say the land could potentially be used to build more homes, parks, and even infrastructure like highways.

Singaporeans say freeing up the land could also benefit more people, by bringing property prices down, or having more places for leisure activities.

And the search for more space will not just stop with the golf courses.

Asst Prof Neo said: "Once we (have) dealt with these golf courses, think of alternative uses, yes we'll still be faced with the same problem. We still need to think about where can we find extra space (for) whatever purposes.

"It boils down to increasing the kind of ideas and creativity that we have in terms of maximising use of space and diversifying, multi-tasking use of space.

"And I think the issue we are having with golf courses now is just the beginning. It will get increasingly challenging."

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) say letting the clubs know in advance what will happen when their leases expire will enable them to better make investment and membership plans, and allow the public to make informed decisions when it comes to selling or buying memberships in these clubs.

In response to media queries, SLA and URA said: "When the lease ends, the land has to be returned, if there are other needs. It is the same for all other state leases, whether for residential, commercial, industrial or other uses.

"As golf courses occupy large amounts of land, tenures are limited to 30 years or less to preserve flexibility." 

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