Sentosa Golf Club (SGC), home to the Asian Tour and a member of Asian Tour Destinations, recently announced its commitment to become the world’s first ever carbon neutral golf club by 2022. We spoke to Andy Johnston, the Club’s General Manager and Director of Agronomy, about this high-profile commitment.
Andy, what made the Club want to take on this carbon neutral project?
We recognize how important it is to address the issues of global warming including the more critical element of climate change. We can see the changing landscape in the planet’s ecosystems and feel climate change should be on the top of everyone’s annual master planning efforts for long- and short-term agenda.
We recognize we often lead the conversions in golf in South East Asia and perhaps on a larger worldwide platform with the attention we seem to attract with our work. We notice that we are making a difference after nearly a decade of responsible business practices which are adding up to an intelligent global sustainability programme. There is no playbook for addressing climate change, but there is one thing we can clearly see that needs to be addressed, and that is a more aggressive wider participation in the reduction of carbon.
Many of us have been talking about climate change and carbon elevation, giving the conversation attention, however we now feel it is time to do something about it. The community of golf has many great leaders, role models, heroes in sport and business and we believe it is time for us as leaders to create a healthy community for our planet.
How does the Club plan to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2022?
We have developed an in-depth carbon footprint audit. The carbon footprint identifies how we are contributing to carbon release in the atmosphere, and we intend to use the study and the audit to define stronger control in the reduction of our outputs.
The Club has recently purchased two bio-digesters that will remove problematic methane inputs from food and horticultural waste in the landfill by breaking down the products onsite into a compost fertilizer that will be re-used on our two championship golf courses.
Currently any carbon that we do not reduce, we have made a commitment to purchase certified carbon offsets through regional Forestry or Blue Carbon projects to balance our outputs while we work to naturally become carbon neutral or better.
How is the Club able to work out how much more CO2 is needed to be saved to achieve its target?
As mentioned earlier, the Club has recently undertaken its first CO2 audit that has revealed where we currently sit in terms of our carbon footprint. These carbon footprint analytics mathematically allow us to review our operations and the overall impact they are causing to the environment. This study delivers the evidence in three stages.
The Club has implemented several sustainable initiatives on-site since 2018 through its two campaigns, #KeepitGreen and GAME ON. Are there any further initiatives that are planned soon to help lower the Club’s carbon footprint?
Our new Bio digesters will come online later this year. They are estimated to help reduce our food and horticultural waste considerably with up to 40kg of food waste generated each day and one tonne of horticultural waste produced each month to be ground down into fertilizer. This will help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills; one of the world’s biggest causes for methane leakage.
We are also currently making a study into a floating solar farm, as well as changing our brown energy to green energy. The Club has also recently developed a partnership with adidas Golf for our new staff uniforms. Our golfing and F&B teams will be supplied with the new adidas Golf PRIMEGREEN polos that are made with yarn developed out of 100% recycled ocean plastics. We are hoping in the next few months to expand our partnership with adidas Golf to bring about greater awareness for their campaign to end ocean plastic waste once and for all.
In August 2020, SGC became the first golf club in the world to join the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative. Is the Club’s commitment aligned with the initiative in any way?
The UN is the world leader in this area. We are still learning from the UN and the delegates involved and will continue to review the information and the resources provided to help improve our overall position. They have a high-profile team who expect signatories of the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative to deliver on proposed goals and show ways in which they are constantly looking to reduce their carbon footprint. We are currently working to participate with them on many levels and will share these in due course once it is possible to do so.
Are there any specific companies that the Club is working with to help achieve its carbon neutral target?
Since forming a partnership last year with international sustainable golf non-profit, GEO Foundation, we have been working closely alongside them to help monitor our carbon output and discover new ways to gather and report our results.
It is our intention to become a GEO Certified® venue and be able to use our partnership to help pioneer new innovative practices that can be shared with other golf clubs around the world to help influence them to begin their own journey to becoming carbon neutral.
What advice would you give to other golf clubs around the world that are thinking of becoming carbon neutral?
All I would say is start by building a detailed plan that recognises your different carbon outputs, as it is important to understand what levels you are working at before you begin. Once you have reached this point, it is crucial that everyone within the business is committed to working the plan and making sure no stone is left unturned in the club’s pursuit to reduce its overall carbon footprint and move forward in its journey to becoming carbon neutral.
The time to act is now, we can no longer wait for tomorrow, or let others step up to the plate first. Without considerable action, the world, and its ecosystems that we rely on to live will reach the point of no return. However, if we act fast and unite as an industry, golf can play a considerable role in helping to turn the tide on climate change. It is not game over, It’s GAME ON.
How does the Club plan on helping Sentosa Island achieve its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral destination by 2030?
Sentosa Island has recently this year taken on the commitment to become a carbon neutral destination by 2030. They have employed a new Director of Sustainability and developed a sustainability division that are looking into how the entire precinct can work towards becoming carbon neutral.
They are working extremely hard to develop a robust all-encompassing island wide programme. It is a massive undertaking, and we are really honored to be a part of it. We will continue to play our part and hopefully be able to showcase to other businesses on the island the ways in which they can begin to lower their carbon footprint and contribute towards the island achieving its overall goal of carbon neutrality.
Sentosa Golf Club, regarded as one of the world’s most sustainable sporting venues, has announced a commitment to become the world’s first ever carbon neutral golf club by 2022.
The announcement comes during Sentosa Golf Club’s hosting of the HSBC Women’s World Championship, dubbed ‘Asia’s Major’, where 69 of the world’s best players are set to battle it out on The Tanjong.
Contributions from golf rounds over the next 12 months will be set aside to support the purchase of certified carbon offsets through regional Forestry or Blue Carbon projects, that will sequester atmospheric carbon while defending against deforestation and fostering conservation of forests, mangroves and reefs.
Sentosa Golf Club is also aiming to join the United Nations’ Race to Zero (carbon emissions) campaign following its pledge to neutralise the Club’s carbon footprint by 2022.
This latest goal builds on the Club’s various carbon mitigation measures over the past few years, including achieving Singapore’s Green Mark (Platinum) certification through enhancing the energy efficiency of its clubhouse, the first in the region to introduce lithium battery golf carts and increasing the efficiency of its irrigation system by deploying some 1,200 water saving sprinklers across the golf courses.
The Club has already undertaken the important first step of establishing its carbon footprint against the Green House Gas Protocol, in conjunction with Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) island-wide carbon profiling efforts and GEO Foundation, the international non-profit dedicated entirely to inspiring, supporting, and recognising sustainable golf.
Moving ahead, the Club will further realise its carbon neutral goal by stepping up its efforts to pursue solutions that will make club operations and grounds maintenance more carbon efficient, including golf equipment and maintenance fleet electrification initiatives and renewable energy sources.
Sentosa Golf Club’s commitment is aligned with SDC’s goals towards sustainability. SDC announced in March 2021 that Sentosa Island would be transformed into a carbon neutral destination by 2030 as a key goal in its sustainability plan, bringing on board some 200 businesses within Sentosa to work towards the collective aspiration of island carbon neutrality.
Having become the first golf club in the world to join the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action Initiative last year, Andrew Johnston, General Manager / Director of Agronomy and Resident Golf Course Designer at Sentosa Golf Club, commented on the latest pledge saying: “We are excited to set the aspiration to become the first golf club in the world to go carbon neutral. Since joining the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action initiative in 2020 it has been our goal to become carbon neutral and hopefully inspire others around the world to follow suit.
“The Club is also proud to be aligned with Sentosa Island’s recent commitment to become a carbon neutral destination by 2030 and we are looking forward to working closely with SDC and other businesses on the Island to achieve this goal. Our vision is to deliver a world-class facility of exceptional quality, and our commitment to carbon neutrality will safeguard the Club’s long-term future and allow us to be a model for sustainability in golf worldwide.”
Thien Kwee Eng, Chief Executive Officer at Sentosa Development Corporation, added “Sentosa Development Corporation is excited by Sentosa Golf Club’s commitment to become the world’s first carbon neutral golf club. Golf can act as a catalyst in the fight against climate change and it is great to see one of Singapore’s premier golf clubs leading the way in reducing carbon emissions. The Club’s sustainability agenda is closely linked to that of the Island’s, and we are looking forward to working alongside the Club as we progress towards achieving Sentosa’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
This announcement is the latest in a long list of sustainable initiatives and commitments made by Sentosa Golf Club since the launch of its newest environmental campaign, GAME ON, at the 2020 SMBC Singapore Open. The campaign is designed to help educate and illustrate to the wider golfing community how important modern sustainable practices are for the betterment of the environment, acting as inspiration for golf clubs around the world to make changes to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Sentosa Golf Club intends to continue developing its sustainable initiatives in 2021 by installing two food and horticultural waste digesters to limit carbon emissions by grinding down waste on-site and reusing it as fertiliser on its two championship courses.
The Club also continues to explore alternative energy solutions such as solar, as well as other sustainable food produce options, whilst its collaboration with GEO Foundation aims to pioneer new innovative practices and report credible results to share with other golfing organisations around the world.
Asian Tour Destinations has welcomed two new partners to the fold with Golfasian and the Wall Street Journal+ (WSJ+) becoming part of the exclusive network of golf clubs, with direct ties to the Asian Tour.
Golfasian is the leading golf tour operator in Southeast Asia, while WSJ+ a premium membership program exclusively for subscribers of The Wall Street Journal.
They join at a time when Asian Tour Destinations currently boasts eight venues, representing the top-tier of golf clubs in Asia.
Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore was the first to join and they were soon followed by Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand; Classic Golf & Country Club in New Delhi, India; and Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Last year, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club in Malaysia, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam, and Sapporo Country Club plus The North Country Golf Club, both in Japan, became part of the programme.
Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour, said: “The Asian Tour Destinations network continues to gain momentum and so this is an opportune time for Golfasian and Wall Street Journal+ to join. We are delighted they have chosen to partner with our Asian Tour Destinations programme and we look forward to working with them collaboratively.
“The concept of Asian Tour Destinations is to help build the ideal ecosystem for the golf course industry and related sectors in the region, so we feel Golfasian and Wall Street Journal+ are a perfect fit.”
“Golfasian is thrilled to join Asian Tour Destinations as we pride ourselves on working with the best golfing venues in Asia, while this partnership will allow us to further raise awareness of our brand alongside exploring future opportunities with the Asian Tour,” said Mark Siegel, Managing Director, Golfasian Co. Ltd.
“Our business is based on delivering a personalised golfing journey combined with exploring the culture of the countries visited, and our management has over 49 years’ experience in the golfing, travel, and hospitality segments, so this is an exciting opportunity that will add an extra dimension to our level of commitment and service.”
In particular, Golfasian will be able to provide unique travel package offers to experience Asian Tour Destinations venue members, benefit from promotional opportunities across all of the Asian Tour Destinations multi-media platforms, explore cross-promotional opportunities with current and future Asian Tour Destinations partners and in the future explore the potential for building golf and travel packages around the Asian Tour schedule, once circumstances permit.
WSJ+ has had a long-established relationship with the Asian Tour as an “Official Media Partner” and sees the transition of the affiliation to Asian Tour Destinations as a natural evolution for the partnership and an amplified benefit to WSJ+ members.
“This is another great opportunity for WSJ+ and our members to enjoy a range of unique benefits by working with the Asian Tour Destinations platform and in particular many of the world-class golfing venues across the Asian region,” said Charles Ho, Marketing Manager WSJ+.
“WSJ+ members will receive access to unique offers, and we will also gain exposure across the Asian Tour Destinations platform.”
Asian Tour Destinations was set up to provide an affiliate membership programme between the associated venues and the Asian Tour which will help grow the industry in the region.
Being a part of the Asian Tour Destinations network means that each venue is certified Tour calibre and operates a comprehensive range of facilities and services to their members and guests under tournament-ready conditions all-year round.
Among the core benefits, Asian Tour members are able to play and practice at each venue, allowing for the members at each club to enjoy direct engagement with the region’s best golfers.
Sentosa Golf Club, home of the Asian Tour, is widely respected as one of the world’s greatest golf clubs with two pristine conditioned golf courses, showcasing breath-taking views of the Singapore Straits and metropolitan Singapore.
Since reopening in December, the Club’s world-class championship course, The Serapong, has attracted positive headlines from across the globe. As the host venue for the SMBC Singapore Open, The Serapong is one of the world’s best golf courses, having been named ‘Singapore’s Best Golf Course’ for the third consecutive year at the World Golf Awards in 2020, as well as being ranked 59th in Golf Digest’s ‘Top 100 World’s Greatest Golf Courses 2020-21’.
The man tasked with taking one of golf’s most iconic courses and making it even better, right in the midst of a global pandemic, was the Club’s own General Manager and Director of Agronomy, Andrew Johnston. With three months having passed since the course reopened, we sat down with him to discuss how The Serapong is shaping up and what we can expect from this prestigious course in the future….
Since The Serapong reopened at the end of last year, what has the feedback been like?
The feedback so far from our members and guests regarding the renovations has been extremely positive. Our aim was always to provide them with the best possible playing experience, whilst also setting the course up to deliver an exciting challenge for golfers of all abilities.
Our members and guests have become used to experiencing the highest standards of playing conditions 365 days of the year on The Serapong, which is what we pride ourselves on, and this was definitely something we factored in during the renovations. We are continuously looking to improve the quality of the experience at Sentosa Golf Club and hope that the positive feedback from everyone who has played The Serapong continues to circulate.
Because of COVID-19, we know all the staff at the club had to help out with the renovations. What was that experience like? You must be very proud.
With the renovations on The Serapong commencing just as Singapore was about to go into the ‘Circuit Breaker’, there were many challenges faced. The Club had to be nimble and remain aligned with the changing restrictions throughout the pandemic. The rules of operation were fast changing in the early stages from wearing masks, testing protocols and limited staff allowed on site, to quarantining and working from home.
So, a major challenge that we faced during the renovations was attempting to keep up with the tight construction deadlines, while still meeting all the Safe Management Measures (SMM) in Singapore. We were also only allowed a certain number of staff on-site at the Club on any given day. Our contractor had 150 labourers and operators involved with the project, but just 25 days before the works started 140 of them were quarantined for over four months, meaning our staff had to step in and support and go the extra mile to get the job done.
I am very proud of everyone associated with the Club and the role they played throughout the entirety of the renovations. Despite facing a number of difficult circumstances, we all take great pride in how the renovations have turned out.
We have managed to take one of the world’s top 100 golf courses and make it even better than before, as well as future-proofing it for many years to come. However, we would not have been able to complete such a project without the help of all our staff. It took a huge amount of effort and dedication from everyone associated with SGC, whatever department they worked in, including front of house staff, F&B staff, committee members, and many more, to get the renovations over the line.
Their motivation to make The Serapong even better never changed and a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality meant our staff continued to strive for the same levels of perfection that would normally have been expected of them on a day-to-day basis prior to lockdown. All whilst adhering to and meeting the SMM required of them.
When Sentosa hosts its next tournament on The Serapong, how do you think the players will feel about the changes? Is the course even harder?
We believe the players would say the newly renovated Serapong still provides a fair, but challenging test. The Serapong has always offered one of the most formidable challenges in Asia and by changing small aspects of the layout, golfers are now required to think hard about their strategy and find new ways of overcoming the obstacles they face during their round.
One of the showstopping features added to the course is the new bunkering that has given The Serapong a fresh new look with creative serrated edging. They look deeper, larger, and truly capture a golfer’s imagination when they are lining up their next shot.
Another fundamental change to the course layout involves the works undertaken on the 6th hole. We have realigned the tee complexes and moved them to the right of the cart path, therefore changing the visual alignment of the hole and making golfers look further down towards the water on the right at the edge of the rock wall.
Also, a large new waste bunker has been added, as well as 60 palm trees, which means players will have to change their strategy if they opt to hit away from the water and avoid the sand, as their line into the green will now be affected. We have also added a new false front to the 6th green, named ‘The Dragon’s Tongue’, that requires golfers to add a touch of precision to their game in order to walk away with at least a well-earned par.
The Serapong receives rave reviews from players every year. In your view what makes the course so special?
The Serapong has always been special because it provides breath-taking views wherever you are on the course. This is especially true for ‘The Dragon’s Tail’ (holes 4-7) and the personality of the course has only been enhanced by the renovations.
We realigned the tee complex on the 4th hole and by doing so have opened up the visual alignment of how the serpentine shoreline and walls lie in front of a player’s vision and now takes them on a continuous journey all the way up to the green, therefore adding to The Serapong’s storyline. This small adjustment enhances the coastal theme and plays a big part over the next four holes in how the course, and Sentosa’s story, plays out.
The 5th Hole continues to showcase spectacular views of metropolitan Singapore, whilst Hole 6 now aligns with the shore, offering views of Pulau Brani and delivering a reoccurring visual experience. It is not every day that players will be able to experience such an incredible setting and I always think players find this stretch pretty unique. The Serapong is a one-of-a-kind journey that is proud to welcome golfers from around the world to take on its challenge.
In layman’s terms, which were the bits of clever technology used for the renovations?
Good question! Throughout the renovations there were a number of specific pieces of technology used to help enhance the course. All the tee boxes were re-lasered to reinstate a tabletop flat finish and return them to their original size, as well as updating the grass to allow them to be maintained at super low mowing height of 3mm.
The greens were also improved through a drill-and-fill process that saw machines inject a pre-made sand mix solution into them in order to rebuild and enhance the soil structure condition. With an enhanced air ratio, it will see the putting surfaces stand the test of time and the tropical climate in Singapore for the next decade.
Last question. Which is your favourite Singapore Open and why?
Well, I certainly have quite a few and there are so many great memories over the years. One of my fondest is watching Angel Cabrera down 18 in the final round. He hit a booming drive with a bit of fade off the water (his caddie thought it was going in the water, but Angel knew it had cleared). Then hit a 6-iron from 200 metres out, pin high, for an easy two putt birdie and to close the tournament out by one from Vijay Singh. A 6-iron from that distance these days might not seem that much, but back then it was something special from that range. That week in 2007 had everything. Angel played majestic golf all week, including a 63 in the second round and we have to also remember his driver head came off during his first round and he still managed to shoot level par!
I will also never forget Adam Scott’s three-peat. There’s just something about Singapore and Sentosa Golf Club that just clicked with Adam. He’s given us a lot of great memories here too.
*The Sentosa Golf Club is part of the Asian Tour Destinations, an exclusive network of world-class golfing properties around the region that offer a comprehensive range of facilities and services to club members and guests, as well as to Asian Tour players and officials.
Myanmar’s Kyi Hla Han and Zaw Moe, past winners of Singapore’s National Open, enjoyed the privilege of playing the newly-renovated Serapong course at Sentosa Golf Club last week and as expected, they were full of praise for the famous layout.
Han, a former Asian Tour number one and winner of the Singapore Open in 1994, and Moe – the 1997 Singapore Open champion – were invited by the club to play the course during its soft opening.
They were joined in their group by Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner & Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Tour, and Australian Unho Park – a 20-year veteran of the Tour, who is now a key part of its’ administrative team.
The Serapong, voted by the players on the Asian Tour as the ‘Best Golf Course on Tour’ last year, had been closed since March as it underwent extensive renovations.
The soft opening was held on Friday and saw all the members of staff who worked on the course get to play it for the first time before the official opening on Saturday.
Changes have been made to the bunkers – which now have creative, artistic serrated edges – fairways, and tee boxes.
“The renovations are great!” said Han, a former Commissioner of the Asian Tour.
“The fairways and greens are fantastic, and the bunkers are also excellent. There was a course I was working on in Mandalay, in Myanmar, which has classic bunkers with rough edges which give the course a more classic look. So the changes to the bunkers here at Sentosa are similar – I think it is a wonderful design element, and something that appeals to me as a course designer, the more classic, older look.
“The Serapong has always stood up so well to the players in the Singapore Open – the scores are not too low. It is a tough course from the back tees. It is playing too long for me now! I need to play a shorter course.”
Zaw was equally impressed.
“The course looks fantastic. The fairways are really good, they have just one type of grass, as opposed to different types,” said Zaw, who played with great success on both the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organization.
“For me the course looks the same but it is the condition that is really noticeable. The course looks neat and extremely well presented as always. And of course you can really see the new shaping around the bunkers – very distinctive.”
The Asian Tour is headquartered at Sentosa Golf Club, so Cho was also delighted to have the chance to play the course.
“The Serapong has always been one of the highest acclaimed courses on the Asian Tour. They [Sentosa] have really outdone themselves in what they have done to the course over the last nine months,” said Cho.
“The condition of the golf course is excellent. They have made the bunkers a bit trickier, the sand is great, the fairways are looking immaculate, and the greens are rolling great so there’s not much more we can ask for.
“There is no real one thing that stands out. I feel it’s one of those courses that doesn’t have a signature hole because the whole golf course is memorable, and the finer details have been done really well.
“It is remarkable for the members to give up their golf course during this pandemic period where a lot of people were actually playing golf, it’s incredible they could have the patience and the foresight to do that. It is going to pay dividends in the long run.”
Sentosa Golf Club has today officially reopened its world-class state-of-the-art championship course, The Serapong, after it underwent an extensive renovation in March to maintain its immaculate conditioning and playing standards.
The renovations are headlined by a new bunkering style with creative, artistic serrated edges to enhance The Serapong’s character and overall strategy, whilst elevating the course to a new level on the world stage. The club used 6,000 tonnes of new sand during the renovations to reinstate consistency, texture and tournament ready compaction for improved playability.
Modifications have also helped to enhance and preserve the personality of many of The Serapong’s iconic holes, including the signature 5th hole, which overlooks metropolitan Singapore and its bustling port.
Masterminded by Andrew Johnston, the club’s General Manager, Director of Agronomy and resident Golf Course Designer, The Serapong has been closed since March and, alongside the new bunkering, a number of other key course upgrades were implemented during that time.
These included the re-grassing of fairways, rejuvenating them with minor grading adjustments and improved drainage strategies, as well as modifying the greens soil profile by introducing new carbon technology to boost soil chemistry and profile structure.
Enhancements to the greens are set to make The Serapong’s putting surfaces even better, which is hard to believe given the wide acclaim they already receive from its members, guests and visiting Tour Professionals.
Finally, the renovations also paid close attention to the re-levelling of all tee boxes, reinstating them with the historic tabletop flat finish The Serapong is renowned for. It will enable the club to continue to maintain the tees at a super low mowing height of 3mm, improving the quality of the playing experience for members and guests.
Speaking ahead of The Serapong’s reopening, which is a soft launch ahead of a grand reopening next March, Andrew Johnston said: “The last time The Serapong was renovated was nearly 14 years ago and since then the course has grown to become one of the world’s best, picking up multiple accolades in the process. Despite the challenges presented by the worldwide pandemic, we have found a way to pull the Sentosa family together within the safe working restrictions to complete the works. This has been a very exciting project that was well overdue, and we are confident the changes implemented will only enhance the golfing experience for our members and guests.
“Being located in a sub-tropical climate means the golf course ages faster than an ordinary one, and these renovations are crucial to maintaining the quality of the playing surfaces, as well as the conditions and high-standards that we pride ourselves on here at Sentosa, 365 days of the year.”
Dominic Wall – Director – Asia-Pacific at The R&A, commented: “The newly renovated Serapong looks great, and continues to showcase why Sentosa Golf Club is one of the world’s leading golfing venues. It is fantastic to see that, throughout the entire process of the renovations, the project continued to align with the club’s ground-breaking sustainability agenda. With our Asia-Pacific headquarters located at the club, we look forward to seeing Sentosa’s members and guests back out on the fairways taking on The Serapong’s unique challenge.”
Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner & Chief Executive Officer at The Asian Tour, added: “The renovations undertaken on The Serapong by the team at Sentosa have been nothing short of breath-taking. The renovations have enabled The Serapong to retain its unique personality and characteristics that made it one of the world’s top golf courses, as well as the best golf course in Singapore. With the course now reopening to members, we are looking forward to welcoming back Asia’s best players next year to battle it out at the SMBC Singapore Open.”
The Serapong was originally designed by the world-famous golf course design firm Golf Plan and Ronald Fream, opening in 1982. The course was further renovated in 2006 by the Bates Golf Design Group, who were led at the time by their VP of Design and Construction, Andrew Johnston, and whose designs have seen the course’s trademark contours, extended stone-lined lakes and breath-taking Singapore harbour backdrop become renowned across the world.
It was recently voted ‘Singapore’s Best Golf Course’ for the second year in a row at the World Golf Awards back in October and finds itself regularly listed as one of the world’s greatest golf courses.
The Serapong has played host to the Singapore Open since 2005 (initially Barclays Singapore Open, then SMBC Singapore Open from 2015), welcoming some of the world’s finest players such as 2005, 2006 and 2010 winner Adam Scott, 2018 winner Sergio Garcia and rising Asian star Jazz Janewattananond, who captured the title in 2019.
The 2020 edition was one of the most memorable in history with all three of Rio’s 2016 Olympic medalists, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar in attendance. Kuchar eventually took the title finishing on 18 under par to beat Justin Rose by three.
Sentosa, Singapore, December 9: Four of Asia’s most-exceptional golfing venues – Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club in Malaysia, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam, Sapporo Country Club and The North Country Golf Club, both in Japan – have become part of Asian Tour Destinations.
All four are award-winning venues, with a history of hosting world-class tournaments, and join a select group of members at Asian Tour Destinations – which is an exclusive network of elite golf clubs with direct ties to the Asian Tour.
Earlier this year Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand; Classic Golf & Country Club in New Delhi, India; and Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, became part of the emerging network.
They joined Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore – which was the first golf club to sign-up in 2015.
Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour, said: “Asian Tour Destinations is flourishing and now boasts eight of the finest golf clubs in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asian Tour is delighted to welcome the latest additions to this exclusive membership body.
“The main objective of Asian Tour Destinations is to provide an affiliate membership programme between the associated venues and the Asian Tour – which will drive sustainable growth and development for the betterment of golf in our region as a whole.”
Horizon Hills is one of the great golfing facilities in southern Malaysia and has hosted three Iskandar Johor Opens: Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won the event in 2010, Dutchman Joost Luiten was the winner in 2011, while Spaniard Sergio Garcia triumphed the following year.
“Within a short space of time, since our opening in 2008, Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club has become a household name in the regional golf industry,” said Tang Meng Loon, Director, Club, Townships & Property Management, Horizon Hills.
“It was therefore a logical step for us to become part of Asian Tour Destinations – which is a platform that will allow us to further build our brand in the region and beyond.”
Laguna Lăng Cô Resort boasts the distinction of having Sir Nick Faldo’s first Signature Design open for play and it is the home of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final – which is hosted by Sir Nick himself every year. The Asian Tour has been a long-time supporter of the Faldo Series, which has helped to grow the game of golf globally. Laguna Lăng Cô is an integrated golf and beach resort and is part of the Banyan Tree Group. It is the first golf course in Vietnam to be Earth Check Gold Certified.
Said Adam Calver, Director of Golf, Laguna Golf Lăng Cô: “Vietnam continues to be at the forefront of golf expansion and development in the region and we are very proud that Laguna Golf Lăng Cô is a contributor in this evolution. We appreciate the work the Asian Tour continues to do to grow the game here and Asian Tour Destinations is a perfect fit for us and supports our resorts future plans and ambitions.”
Sapporo Country Club and The North Country Golf Club, in Hokkaido, are the first golf clubs from Japan to join the Asian Tour Destinations fold.
“This is an exciting development for Sapporo Country Club: to align ourselves with the Asian Tour Destination programme. And to have the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with some of the other premier golfing venues in Asia will prove invaluable,” said Yamazaki Shigeki, President, Sapporo Country Club.
The North Country Golf Club has been the home of The Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup on the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) since 2005.
And their championship course was designed by Japan legend Isao Aoki – the winner of 51 titles on the JGTO and the first player from Japan to win on the PGA Tour, at the Hawaiian Open in 1983
Said Yasuhiro Ota from The North Country Golf Club: “The North Country Golf Club is proud of its long association with The Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup – which demonstrates the club’s desire to connect with the game of golf at the highest level. Our involvement with Asian Tour Destinations provides us with a similar pathway for us to improve and reach the highest standards, operationally and commercially.”
Being a part of the Asian Tour Destinations network means that each venue is certified Tour calibre and operates a comprehensive range of facilities and services to their members and guests under tournament-ready conditions all-year round.
Among the core benefits, Asian Tour members will be able to play and practice at each venue, allowing for the members at each club to enjoy direct engagement with the region’s best golfers.
Sentosa Golf Club has marked its most recent award of ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility’ by premiering a new environmental documentary film to raise awareness of the importance of climate change in golf.
The documentary forms part of the club’s GAME ON campaign, which has received backing from The R&A following its launch at the SMBC Singapore Open earlier this year.
Coinciding after it was named ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility’ at the 2020 World Golf Awards this week, the film shows viewers some of the key measures already implemented at the club, such as the creation of bee colonies, the installation of reservoir-lakes and the banning of single-use plastics.
The club, which became the first golf club in the world to sign the UN’s Sports for Climate Action Agreement back in July, hopes the film will serve as inspiration to golf’s response to climate change, as well as help clubs around the world to understand the importance of reducing their carbon footprint by implementing initiatives for the betterment of the environment.
Sentosa is also planning a free environmental toolkit to further help golf clubs deal with the real threat of climate change.
With over 61 million golfers and 39,000 golf courses worldwide, the club firmly believes golf has the ability to become one of the leading industries to help reverse climate change and make a considerable impact.
The wider GAME ON campaign aims to educate and inspire the global golfing community to create a more socially conscious industry and consumer, who will be better prepared to introduce new modern practices for the betterment of the environment, as well as improving the quality of facilities on offer throughout the world. It is closely aligned with The R&A’s 2030 Golf Course Initiative.
Speaking about the unveiling of the documentary, Andrew Johnston, General Manager and Director of Agronomy at Sentosa Golf Club, said: “Today is a very special day. The unveiling of the GAME ON documentary marks the day golf’s major stakeholders and global community unite to fight climate change. Sentosa Golf Club are proud to be at the forefront of this campaign and hope to create a legacy with golf’s leading organisations and community that will have a huge bearing on our future.”
On being awarded ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility’, Johnston added: “It is a tremendous achievement for Sentosa to be recognised by golf’s leading professionals as the ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Facility’ and once again as ‘Singapore’s Best Golf Course’ for the third year running. Being awarded these accolades is down to the hard work that is put in by all our staff and members to maintain the high standards that are set by the club 365 days of the year.
“Since 2018, we have worked hard to create a sustainable environment on-site at the club and are grateful for all the support we have received from our partners and stakeholders in our journey so far. Even with this recognition, the club will continue to improve and look to pioneer new sustainable initiatives as we look to lead the industry in tackling this critical issue.”
Sentosa fought off competition from other leaders in the environmental space to collect their latest eco accolade at the 7th annual World Golf Awards, recognised for the leadership and responsibility it has shown in planning, constructing and managing a resource efficient and ecologically rich golf environment, as well as playing an inspirational role in expanding environmental activity throughout the region.
The club also took home the title of ‘Singapore’s Best Golf Course’ for The Serapong course for the second year in a row. The course plays host to the SMBC Singapore Open every year, welcoming the world’s best players from all around the world.
Chris Gray, Head of Sustainability and Agronomy – Asia-Pacific at The R&A, added: “The R&A is delighted to be part of Sentosa Golf Club’s unveiling of their GAME ON documentary. It is great to be part of something so important and be able to work together on a global scale to fight the issues that really matter to golf and the world. GAME ON, which is closely aligned with our own Golf Course 2030 initiative, is not only a vital campaign in helping to reverse the impact of climate change, but it is also crucial to the overall survival of golf, a game that is so widely loved throughout the world.”
Commenting on the latest award for the club, Sentosa Development Corporation CEO, Thien Kwee Eng, said: “It is a great honour for Sentosa Golf Club to receive two awards at this year’s World Golf Awards. We are extremely proud of the work our team has put in throughout the year, not only expanding its environmental credentials, but also continuously maintaining the top-quality conditions of its two championship courses. By doing so, the club has attracted some of Asia’s most prestigious events and helped showcase Sentosa as one of the world’s top global tourist destinations.”
The newly crowned ‘World’s Best Eco-Friendly Facility’ also boosted its approach to environmental sustainability by forming a partnership with international sustainable golf non-profit, GEO Foundation. The collaboration will see the integration of GEO’s industry-leading OnCourse® program and GEO Certified label with Sentosa’s ‘green-culture’ to pioneer new innovative practices, as well as gather, verify, and report credible results to share with other clubs around the world.
A recent Golf Sustainability Fund Grant by The R&A made Sentosa the first club in Asia able to grind down food and horticultural waste to reuse as fertiliser on its golf courses.