Singapore Golf Club



The Singapore Golf Club was opened in 1891 at the Singapore Sporting Club.1 After World War I, it was moved to new premises, leaving behind certain members who joined forces with locals to form a club of their own.2 In 1963, the two clubs merged to become the Singapore Island Country Club.3

Opening of the Club
With the enthusiasm and energy of Supreme Court judge, Sir John Tankerville (Justice) Goldney, its first president, and R. N. Bland, its first treasurer, the Singapore Golf Club (or Golf Club) was opened on 17 June 1891 at the race course belonging to the Singapore Sporting Club (founded in 1842).4 It was located at where Farrer Park is today.5 However, the golfers had had to share the grounds with the jockeys and the horses.6


The opening of the Golf Club was such an important event that it appeared in the editorial section of The Straits Times.7 The event was marked with a golfing match, attended by then Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, his wife, as well as Captain and Mrs Clutterbuck.8 There was also a fireworks and aerial parachutes display.9

In 1891, club entrance fees were charged at $2, while the annual subscription cost $6.10

Growth of the Club
Almost as soon as the Golf Club was founded, golf mania hit the colony, mainly among the British, as only they could be members.11 By December 1891, there were 60 active members.12 In April 1893, the newspapers reported that there were at least 100 members in the Golf Club and golfing equipment was in short supply.13 On 11 December 1893, the committee subsequently decided to limit the membership to 150 and double membership subscriptions.14


For the convenience of the Golf Club members, a club house was constructed by the Sporting Club for $3,000 and was officially opened on 27 January 1894.15 The Golf Club was charged a monthly rental of $20 for the use of the club house.16

Women were encouraged to take up golf, although they were not allowed to become members of the Club.17 Women were only allowed to play on Tuesdays, but they took full advantage of the opportunity accorded to them.18 By 1894, there were matches with men and women playing in pairs.19 Four years later, by 1898, women were playing for monthly medals.20 However, it was only in 1907 that women were allowed to join the Golf Club as members.21

In December 1898, permission was granted by the Committee of the Sporting Club for polo to be played on the golf course on Mondays and Thursdays, a decision which caused further considerable friction between the Sporting and Polo Clubs and the Golf Club.22

By the end of 1912, golf had become a favourite sport among the colonial masters and membership at the Golf Club had reached the hundreds.23 Perhaps because of this, the Club managed to persuade the Singapore Sporting Club to disallow polo on the premises.24 The conflict between the Golf Club and the Singapore Polo Club had begun ever since the Sporting Club allowed polo on the premises in December 1898.25 On 1 January 1913, the Sporting Club withdrew this permission and the Polo Club had to find its own permanent location.26 The Golf Club took the opportunity to improve the fairways, put in some decent bunkers and ensure the course was properly maintained.27

Move to New Premises (Bukit Timah)
Interest in golf declined in Singapore with the onset of World War I.28 This affected activities and membership at the Golf Club, and of course other clubs as well.29 But with the end of the war, things went back to normal in Singapore and at the Golf Club.30 As business activities in the surrounding area grew, the Club decided in August 1924 to move to another location.31 The then president of the Club, John M. Sime, chose a site in Bukit Timah next to a reservoir known today as the MacRitchie Reservoir.32 Since this was a catchment area, the Club could be assured that there would be no development nearby.33 The Club formally opened its newly constructed course at Bukit Timah on 17 March 1925. It was renamed the Royal Singapore Golf Club on 12 November 1938 after King George VI became the patron of the Club.34


However, some members of the Club had been unhappy about the move.35 They felt that the Bukit Timah course was far from the main road and would be inconvenient as they did not drive.36 They decided to join forces with the Chinese, Indian and Eurasian members of the Singapore Turf Club (formerly known as the Singapore Sporting Club) and created their own club known as the Race Course Golf Club on 1 October 1924.37 It was a historic event as the new club was the first multiracial club in Singapore.38 The members of this club continued to play at the racecourse location until 1928, when they moved to another course beside Pierce Reservoir.39 A new golf club called the Island Club was formed for the new course.40 Most of the members were former members of the Race Course Golf Club, which was liquidated in 1932.41

World War II
The 1930s were hailed by many as a period of great golfing strength in Singapore, but this came to an abrupt end with the Pacific War.42 During the Japanese occupation of Singapore between 1942 and 1945, the Japanese took over the clubhouse of the Royal Singapore Golf Club and used it for their office.43 They also built roads across the turf and raked other parts of it to grow tapioca.44 In 1944, civilian internees were transferred from Changi Jail to the large area behind the clubhouse (known as Sime Road).45


The fortunes of the Club turned with the end of the war and the surrender of the Japanese.46 Soon after the return of British troops in September 1945, reconstruction work on the courses of both the Island Club and the Royal Singapore Golf Club began.47 By the end of the year, golf could be played on both courses once again.48 The Island Club was officially re-opened on 3 March, 1947.49 By the middle of the 20th century, both clubs were seeing rigorous golfing activities.50 But while membership grew at the Island Club, renamed the Royal Island Club with the visit of the Duchess of Kent in 1952, membership at the other club dwindled.51

Merger to Form Singapore Island Country Club
By the 1960s, with the departure of expatriates as Singapore moved towards independence, membership at the Royal Singapore Golf Club declined and club members initiated a merger with the Royal Island Club.52 At a conference of delegates from both clubs held on 21 June 1963, the two clubs became the Singapore Island Country Club.53




Author

Jeanne Louise Conceicao



References
1. Koh, T., et als. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, pp. 218-219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Josey, A. [1969]. Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
2. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, pp. 218-219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
3. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, pp. 218-219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
4. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, pp. 218-219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Hutton, W. (1983). The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886–1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises, pp. 10, 18–19 (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 17–18. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
5. Hutton, W. (1983)  The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886-1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT)
6. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338–348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Hutton, W. (1983). The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886–1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises. (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT)
7. The Singapore Golf Club. (1891, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
8. The Singapore Golf Club. (1891, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
9. The Singapore Golf Club. (1891, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
10. Koh, T.,  et al. (Eds.). (2006).  Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, pp. 218-219. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]; Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338–348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
11. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, pp. 18–19. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
12. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 18. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
13. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
14. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338–348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
15. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
16. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
17. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
18. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
19. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
20. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
21. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
22. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
23. Hutton, W. (1983). The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886-1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises, p. 46. (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT)
24. Hutton, W. (1983). The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886-1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises, pp. 46-47. (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT)
25. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338–348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
26. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. (Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Hutton, W. (1983). The Singapore Polo Club: An informal history 1886-1982. Singapore: Girdwood Enterprises, pp. 46–47. (Call no.: RSING 796.3530605957 HUT); Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 23. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
27. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. St J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 338-348. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
28. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
29. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
30. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
31. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
32. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
33. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 24. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
34. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 26. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
35. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 26. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
36. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 26. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
37. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 29. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
38. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 29. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
39. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 30–31. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
40. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
41. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
42. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
43. Reutens, L. (c1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
44. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 35–36. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
45. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 36. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
46. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]). (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 40. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
47. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 46. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
48. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, p. 46. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
49. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
50. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS)
51. Josey, A. [1969]. Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING English 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, pp. 40, 43. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
52. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, pp. 50−57. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)
53. Josey, A. (1969). Golf in Singapore. [Singapore: Asia Pacific Press]. (Call no.: RSING 796.352 JOS); Reutens, L. (1993). The eagle & the lion: A history of the Singapore Island Country Club. Singapore: The Club, pp. 50−57. (Call no.: RSING 367.95957 REU)



Further resource
Golf in Singapore. (1891, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Country clubs--Singapore
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Golf
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Organisations>>Associations
Organisations