SINGAPORE: Members of the Raffles Country Club (RCC) were surprised by an announcement on Wednesday (Jan 4) that the Government would acquire land the club sits on for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) and for a Cross Island Line depot.
“Obviously we’re deeply disappointed to hear the news. I think we will work with the authorities to make sure we deal with them fairly, if there’s any compensation," said General Committee president Paul Singh. He declined to go into specifics, saying the club needed to hold further talks with authorities.
Still, some members told Channel NewsAsia they had a sense that a land acquisition was on the cards. After news of Jurong Country Club's acquisition for the HSR project was broke, RCC member Maria Teo said she and others at the club had speculated that RCC would lose part of its two 18-hole golf courses, but not both.
Another member, Theresa Ng said she paid about S$40,000 for the membership about 20 years ago. She and Ms Teo said they had no plans to get another golf course membership after RCC closes.
A former Jurong Country Club member who wanted to be known as Arthur said he and a few others bought RCC membership in February 2016, and were "prepared" for such an acquisition. But they were not expecting the move to come so soon.
He paid about S$20,000 for weekday membership. "I will not sell my membership now. Nobody will buy. If they compensate me, I'm lucky. I won't lose that much".
He is in two minds about getting another golf club membership. "Even if you want another membership, you're scared. You know - is the Government going to acquire it too? I don't know if Sentosa or Tanah Merah or Laguna Club will be next. Will Singapore eventually end up without golf courses?"
Golf club membership broker Fion Phua said about 10 existing RCC members have contacted her for advice since they were informed of the notice. One caller had submitted an application for membership at the club on Tuesday and that it was pending approval from the club.
Ms Phua, who is sales director of Tee-Up Marketing Enterprises, said members were asking her if they should sell their membership or wait for Government compensation. “The membership is currently between S$32,000 to S$33,000. If they sell it now, minus the transfer fee of S$21,400, they might get about S$10,000 for the membership. I told them it might be better to hold out for the compensation, and in the meantime, enjoy the golf course and make more memories there until it is closed down.”
RCC has about 2,650 golfing members. Memberships are going for between S$32,500 to S$34,000 based on a check of club membership broker websites.
The club will be required to vacate its premises by Jul 31, 2018.
Additional reporting by Lianne Chia and Liyana Othman.