Golf club membership prices on the rise



Resilience mainly due to cheap funds and a growing population

By VEN SREENIVASAN
20 March 2010

If you were waiting for golf price memberships to pull back before committing yourself, you may be in danger of missing the boat.

Despite recent jitters in the financial markets, open market prices of membership at Singapore’s 11 golf clubs which have transferable memberships have continued to head north in recent months.

In fact, the BT Golf Index, which has been tracking the composite price index for golf club memberships in Singapore for almost two decades, is now close to the peaks of mid-2007. At 209.79 points, the index is just 20 points off its September 2007 peak of 229.09 points. And it is a whopping 39 per cent up from a year ago, when it was 151.04 points.

Leading the index northwards are ‘big hitters’ like the Singapore Island & Country Club (SICC), Sentosa Golf Club and Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC).

At $215,000, SICC membership’s open market quoted price is just $10,000 off its historical high of $225,000 in 2007. Sentosa, at $285,000, is just $20,000 off its high of $305,000, while TMCC – at $168,000 – is within striking distance of its 2007 peak of $178,000.

But it is not just these top-tier clubs which have gained in recent months.

Raffles Country Club, whose clubhouse facilities are undergoing a $9.5 million upgrade, has risen to $50,000.

‘This club’s membership has more upside, especially when the upgrades to the clubhouse and the Palm Course are completed,’ said Lee Lee Langdale of Singolf Pte Ltd.

Meanwhile, Laguna, whose Classic Course is expected to reopen after a two-year makeover this year, has edged up to $70,000 – a $15,000 rise from last year.

There are apparently two major reasons for the resilience of club membership prices: cheap funds, and a growing population.

Industry insiders say that the availability of easy credit and personal finance – thanks to a banking system flush with liquidity – is boosting the ability of many young mid-career executives to buy club memberships.

Demand is also being boosted by the increasing population, especially middle-class new immigrants, many of whom are mid-career professionals with a passion for the sport.

So how much higher can prices go?

Golf club membership prices have broadly moved in tandem with the stock market and paced the movement of other asset classes, primarily properties and cars. And the prices of both the latter asset classes have risen in the past few months.

Membership prices are likely to be sustained at current levels if financial markets avoid a major and extended correction.

In short, those hoping to land a membership on the cheap have to hope for another crash in stock prices. After all, in the hierarchy of needs, a club membership probably ranks way below property or cars.

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