Down to a Tee

Singapore is something of a golfers’ paradise. We should know; we’ve given birth to one of the bigger golf champions in Asia, Mardan Mamat. So if you’ve been thinking about taking up the sport, the city is a good place to start. Golf coach Nathan Koh says it is not hard to pick up golf. “If you can master the swing right from the start, you’re all set,” he says. But if you need a wee bit more guidance than that, we’ve rounded up all the necessary details to get you on your way to becoming the next Tiger Woods. Just remember, it’s a precision sport, so if things don’t go right initially, keep practicing.
The Essentials
Of course, before you begin, you need to get the gear. Usually, beginners get a so-called “half set” of clubs to get started. A half set includes a driver, a putter, a 3-wood, a 7-iron, a 9-iron and a pitching wedge. The main difference between clubs is the shafts. A graphite shaft is best for beginners. A beginner’s set of clubs can cost up to $1,200.
Besides clubs, you will also need gloves, a golf bag and shoes. According to Salamat Kasmani, a retail supervisor and an avid golfer of over 20 years, beginners should buy a Sunday bag, which can carry approximately three to four clubs. “Stand bags are usually for pros who are already active on the walking course, where you have to carry your own clubs around because there are no caddies. Typically, golfers carry the buggy bag but I recommend that beginners use the Sunday bag, which is lightweight and convenient for a trip to the driving range,” he says. Gloves are also necessary because they provide a more secure grip on your club and prevent blisters. Golfers without proper shoes with spikes on the sole (essential for grip as the green can get pretty wet) are not allowed to step on the turf. Source for these golfing essentials at Pan-West (#02-06 Far East Shopping Centre, 545 Orchard Rd., 6733-4331) and TransviewGolf (3/F Shaw House, 350 Orchard Rd., 6735-4241).
Get some tips on buying golf clubs
Take a Class
All beginners are required to take a proficiency certificate (PC) test before competing on a bona fide golf course. This helps to measure your skills in technical aspects such as driving, pitching and bunkering as well as prepares you mentally for your game. Sounds intimidating? Don’t worry, there are many places in Singapore equipped to polish you up for that big swing. Here are some.
Heartland Golf Schools
At Heartland, you can register for an introductory one-hour session to decide if this is really the sport for you. Once you’ve set your mind on it, you can go further and learn how to swing the club, hit the ball and develop more advanced skills on the golf course, as well as gain an understanding of the safety principles and etiquette involved. You can even ask for the instructors to design a program for you (or your group of like-minded pals) to pass your PC test or obtain your handicap. 1/F Driving Range, Jurong Country Club, 9 Science Centre Rd., 6563-2455. Private lessons go for $125 per session. Group rates and a 15 percent discount for Jurong Country Club members are also available.
MaxSwing Indoor Golf
Once you’ve gotten into the swing (heh!) of things, you’ll want to keep on practicing regardless of weather conditions. This virtual indoor golf center ensures you can do just that with its official PGA Golf Simulator, the only of its kind in Singapore, which is known for its unmatched accuracy, life-like 3D graphics and amazing ability to accurately replicate ball flight and a golfer’s true play putt at any length. Perfect your swing with their frame-by-frame analysis, which breaks down every detail of your game play so that you can monitor and improve it. If you need a little more guidance than that, you can engage their in-house PGA professional coaches Alan Murray and Garry Overy, who are available upon request. Coaching costs $45-120 for 30 to 60 minute sessions. Beginners’ crash courses cost $400 for five hourly sessions. #04-29/30 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd., 6502-0200,
Practice even when you’re on holiday at Bintan’s finest

Ria Bintan
Named one of the top three golf courses in the Asia Pacific by the Asian Golf Monthly, the Ria BintanGolf Club is a 36-hole championship golf course designed by South African pro Gary Player. It consists of the scenic Ocean and Forest courses, a golf academy, putting green, driving range and impressive spa facilities. And that’s not all it’s known for. Ria Bintan is also a Club Med holiday destination, complete with free flow beers and wines at lunch and dinner, a circus trapeze and a private beach. Bliss. Contact their Singapore office at #14-01/10 Bugis Junction Tower, 230 Victoria St., 6338-8111,
Bintan Lagoon
The resort consists of the Jack Nicklaus Sea View and the Ian Baker-Finch Woodlands golf courses, which offer spectacular signature holes, immaculate greens, undulating fairways and scenic water hazards. Their resort is also immensely popular with its Asian chic suites and villas as well as modern conveniences, making Bintan Lagoon the perfect holiday destination for golfers around the world. Contact their Singapore office at #08-08 Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Rd., 6750-2280,