About This Source - Bloomberg QuickTake: Now
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Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Hot Pandemic Investment: $260,000 Golf Club Membership in Singapore” – below is their description.
The coronavirus pandemic has created plenty of investment winners, from Zoom to online retailers and Malaysian glove makers. Add Singapore golf club memberships to the list.
With borders closed for more than a year and relatively few Covid-19 cases in the city-state, golfers have flocked to Singapore’s 15 courses, making tee times almost impossible to get and driving prices for the private clubs to record highs.
At Sentosa Golf Club, which hosts the HSBC Women’s World Championship starting later this month, memberships have soared to S$350,000 ($262,000) for locals, and S$500,000 for foreigners. That’s up 40% from pre-pandemic rates, or double the return on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Going back further, the price of a Sentosa membership has soared almost 300% over the past two decades, making it a better investment than the local stock index and topping the returns on the S&P 500 Index over the same period, excluding dividends.
Lee Lee Langdale, a club broker, says she’s never seen anything like this since she started her firm in 1991, when golfers were first allowed to transfer their memberships to outside buyers.
With Singaporeans stuck on the island, many of them are taking up the game for the first time, or spending more hours playing and practising to hone their craft, said Langdale, 71, an avid golfer who once sported a 14 handicap — meaning 14 strokes over par.
It’s not just locals who are clamoring for access to Singapore’s top clubs, some of which offer Olympic-sized swimming pools, tennis courts and workout rooms. Foreigners, particularly from Hong Kong and China, are also buying, adding to the price acceleration, said Langdale. Some of these golfers have permanent residency in the financial hub, while others are recent arrivals and see the memberships as a good investment.
“Some very wealthy migration is coming to Singapore and they don’t mind spending,” Langdale said. “Just a handful, not a lot, but that is affecting prices.”
Fees at the Singapore Island club, founded in 1891, are also rising, though not at the same pace as Sentosa. Memberships now sell for about S$225,000, up 84% from the lows of 2001. Prices at Tanah Merah Country Club, a 36-hole club nestled alongside the runways of Changi Airport, have jumped 53% to S$168,000 since the dotcom bust that hammered golf club prices and global stocks. Memberships at the nearby Laguna National Golf & Country Club fetch S$170,000, according to Langdale’s data at Singolf Services Pte.
That’s a lot more than a membership at Augusta National Golf Club in the U.S., the site of this week’s Master’s tournament. Membership fees are a closely guarded secret at the venerable club in Georgia, though they are reportedly in the $40,000 range. That’s well below Asia’s most expensive clubs, such as the Koganei Country Club in Tokyo, where fees are about $520,000, according to broker Sakura Golf Co.
With the surge in demand, bookings are at a premium in Singapore. Golfers looking to play on one of the three public courses in the city-state of 5.7 million people often log in during the wee hours of the morning to find a spot several weeks out. It’s only slightly easier at the private courses, even after spending more than a quarter million dollars for access. Some players are buying a second membership at other clubs to boost their chances of landing a coveted Saturday morning slot. Demand for bookings is so great, the police were called in last year after hackers broke into the Singapore Island club system to secure tee times.
Prices may shoot higher and slots could become scarcer as more courses close. The city-state’s government — which typically leases land for golf clubs — closed the Raffles and Jurong clubs in recent years, and plans to shut the Keppel Club this year and the Marina Bay public course by 2024.Bloomberg Quicktake: Now YouTube Channel
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