Beware Tanjong's tricky greens
SGC president Teo says precision putting will decide HSBC Women's Champions winner
In 10 days' time, the best women golfers in the world will tee off at the Sentosa Golf Club (SGC).
The likes of world No. 1 Lydia Ko, Thai hotshot Ariya Jutanugarn, and veteran Park Inbee will be part of the HSBC Women's Champions (March 2-5), the first championship to be played at Sentosa's refurbished New Tanjong course.
SGC president, Low Teo Ping insists that the old saying in golf, "drive for show, putt for dough", will be more apt than ever.
"The course is not as long as the Serapong but, when the women tee off in the HSBC Women's Champions, the winners and losers will be determined very much by putting, just you watch," said Low, speaking to The New Paper on the sidelines of yesterday's grand opening of the New Tanjong course that was graced by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Low drew a distinction between the club's par-72, 6,765m Serapong Course that hosted the SMBC Singapore Open in January and the Tanjong.
The par-72 New Tanjong Course is some 300m shorter at 6,479m, but Low warned of its testing greens.
"The greens are elevated and very tricky," he added.
The club's general manager Andy Johnston, explained further.
"The greens are small and they fall off on all four sides," he said.
"It's definitely different from the Serapong, but I'm not sure how the course will play, we'll have to wait and see how the pros do."
While putting will be critical, both men were certain that golfers of all levels will be able to enjoy the $32 million facelift that has breathed new life into the Tanjong.
"For those who are playing on it, the greens of the course are its standout feature, but the course has been designed in such a way that it can take in any standard of play," said Low who is also the president of the Singapore Rugby Union.
Johnston agreed, saying: "If you play off the black tee, it's a monster. The blue tees are friendlier and, off the white tees, it's a pleasure. The way it's set up offers different kinds of strategies."
And Low promises that with wider cart paths and wide open views, the Tanjong will be a pleasure for spectators at the US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) HSBC Women's Champions.
The Tanjong features holes with a stunning view of the Marina Bay skyline, a 20m-high waterfall, and is even built with water-saving environment-friendly features.
Johnston proudly spoke of its features, but his eyes lit up, when he spoke of the speed at which the Tanjong facelift was completed - with no compromise in quality.
"This is the first time ever seen in this geographical region, a course completed in 12 months - eight months for construction, four months to grow in - and two-and-a-half months later, it will welcome a championship," he said.
"There was a lot of pressure meeting the time frame, and maybe next week, when the women finish playing here, it'll be the most satisfaction that we'll get - from pros who hopefully will be happy with it."
Low is already aiming higher.
"Serapong is ranked 58th in the world. Our aim is to have both our courses in the top 100, let's see if the New Tanjong stands up to the test," said Low.
The Serapong was given that honour last year on the prestigious Golf Digest list that ranks more than 33,000 courses from 206 countries.
"The course has turned out exactly as we had envisioned, and I'm confident that the club's aim of being beyond Asia's best can be achieved."