November 8, 2008 / 3:05 AM / 10 years ago

Recession drives golf club memberships below par

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - If you’re confident about keeping your job, now might be the time to take up golf. Prices for exclusive golf club memberships in Singapore have been whacked as the global financial crisis seeps into the real economy. A recession, falling profits at Singapore firms and job losses are leading golfers to sell transferable memberships and putting off would-be players from forking out the fees.

Memberships for locals at the prestigious Sentosa Golf Club, which will host the Singapore Open competition next week, have slid to S$180,000 ($120,400), after changing hands on an open market last year at S$300,000, golf club agents said.

The country’s biggest bank, DBS Group, said on Friday it would slash 6 percent of its workforce or 900 jobs, around half in Singapore, the latest blow to a financial services industry where golf is part of the business culture.

Club membership has also been seen as the top status symbol for aspirant Singaporeans looking for the “five Cs”: cash, credit card, car, condo(minium) and club.

But agents said prices for foreigners at the Sentosa Golf Club had held their ground at S$270,000 because of a limited number of such memberships.

“Sentosa is also very speculative because of the Integrated Resorts — people think the price will go up,” said one agent for the golf club membership market, referring to a planned development of a casino and a Universal Studios theme park on the island.

However, for those looking to relieve stress and pick up a bargain, memberships at the nine-hole Changi Golf Club, near the city state’s Changi Airport, are down to S$7,000.

Reporting by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by Alex Richardson

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