Stage set for Asian Amateur Championship

Any player arriving for this week’s Asian Amateur Championship harbouring doubts about the standing of the tournament will have them dispelled before they even walk through the clubhouse doors. It is instantly clear when arriving at the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) that this is no ordinary golf club. Boasting the perfect combination of modernity and heritage, the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) is home to a collection of impressive mature golf courses served by a brand new $100m Singapore clubhouse.

Formed in 1963 from the merger of two existing clubs, the SICC of today is a truly world class golf facility which sees 150,000 rounds played per year across its five golf courses. Everything is done on a huge scale. The clubhouse – which opened in June – serves 8,000 principal members with 13 restaurants, a pair of two-tier driving ranges, pro shops and swing analysis centres.

From the moment the SICC was named as the venue for 2011 work got underway to ensure the players would enjoy the best possible experience. A past venue for the Johnnie Walker Classic, the Lexus Cup and Singapore Open, Director of Golf Kurt Greve is clear where hosting this year’s tournament ranks in the club’s long history.

“Being associated with the R&A, Augusta National and the APGC, it ranks right now as our top event,” the 44-year-old California native explained.

“Our members are keen to support amateur golf and the growth of golf in Asia. So we are very excited and we are treating it as it was a professional event, from the set up of the golf course to the amenities that are provided – just as if it was Tiger Woods here.”

It is clear that a lot of work has gone into getting the club and it’s New Course into championship condition. The plans for the clubhouse were even modified to include purpose built amenities for elite tournament golf.

“Preparations started as soon as the announcement was made a year ago,” Greve explained.

“We’ve been taking a very active role with support from the organisers on their standards and conditions, from fairways to tees to greens. We know that Augusta National has a very high standard with their Masters tournament so we wanted to emulate that quality and condition as best we could.”

The AAC seems to fit perfectly with the ethos of the golf club and its commitment to developing the game. Everything is here to help the next generation of golfers on their way.

Greve added: “Our practice facilities, I think, are second to none in maybe the world with driving ranges, practice courses, chipping and putting greens. It is all here to help the 400 players we have in our junior programme, which is very active.

“The parents are very supportive and our future growth of junior golf is a big focus for us. To have someone, not only for SICC and Singapore to be represented on the Asian Tour or PGA Tour, but also moving towards the Olympics in 2016.”

Evidence of that commitment will be on display this week in the form of Lam Zhiqun, a member of the SICC and reigning Singapore National Amateur Champion. The 22-year-old demonstrated his ability at last year’s AAC where he led for the first two rounds and goes into this week as one of the favourites.

Lam has inspired his club to seek more success, and specifically from this week’s event. Greve said: “Our members are very supportive of amateur golf, junior golf and up and coming players that will be the next major winners on the Asian, European or PGA tours. The next winner of The Open or The Masters.

“We hope the legacy of this week will be that somebody will win here and go onto great things in the future and we will look back and say, yes, that person got his start and his first win at SICC and the Asian Amateur Championship.”

However, the SICC is also hoping to impress those not destined to become major winners.

“We want to leave people with a lasting memory of the hospitality of SICC and the idea that Singapore is a great host venue for golf tournaments,” Greve added.

“We’d hope to see future returns not only from the players but from the R&A, APGC and Augusta National members. Our members, our staff are all very proud of what we have and want to show it off and give people a great experience they won’t forget and hopefully they will come back and see us again.”