A short but tough course of heavy undulations, attractive water hazards and narrow fairways, this hidden gem comes highly recommended.
The oldest golf course in Singapore, founded in 1904, the Keppel Golf Club is beautifully located on some wonderfully lush and rolling terrain just outside the city centre, where the sounds of the city and the noise of the jungle collide. It's an undulating affair with tight fairways and more than its fair share of water, sand and OB stakes, and when you add in a number of blind shots and a few tiered greens it becomes clear that it's not all that easy scoring well here despite the course coming in at barely 6,500 yards. High handicappers may struggle somewhat, especially if they are not straight off the tee, but this is a gem of a course with too much to enjoy for you to worry too much about the state of your scorecard.
The opener, a short par-4 that very big hitters might fancy reaching in one (and once the site of the Japanese headquarters during their three years of rule), beautifully encapsulates the essence of the course. You hit from an elevated tee towards a very tight, tree-lined fairway dotted with beautiful bunkers. The narrow and well-protected green is framed beautifully by the tall Livistona Fan palms behind the right sand trap and the stylish apartment blocks rising in the distance. The dog-legging fairway of the par-4 2nd sits on the side of a hill, and it is from there that you must find a heavily bunkered green that lies some 20 metres below the fairway and backs onto a lake. It's an intoxicating shot to play. After a tough par-4 that dog-legs round a lake and culminates in a tough two-tier green, there's the chance to pick up a shot or two at the short par-3 4th, where the green sits behind a lake but is large and receptive, or the short par-5 5th which is reachable in two. The water runs right up to the edge of the green at the par-3 that follows, so you'll have a chance to give back the shot you hopefully picked up, and the trees lining the very narrow fairway of the par-4 7th can cause you further problems. The opening nine ends with a couple of great holes - the approach to the plateau green at the short par-4 8th is a terrifying prospect given the menacing bunker that sits below the level of the green, while on the 9th your final approach is from an elevated position over water to very picturesque green-site protected by a deep bunker right in front.
The intimidating opening shot of the back nine must cross a pond to a narrow uphill fairway. You can't see the green from the tee, so it's tough knowing exactly where to aim when you first play the hole, but there are at least no bunkers in play. The 11th is a very tough par-4 dog-leg with a downhill approach to a green that sites behind water, and there's another lake in play on the otherwise straightforward par-3 that follows. The 15th is a great dog-legging par-5 with a creek running all the way down the left and a picturesque pond into the middle of the fairway near the green. The green is reachable in two but you'll be dropping shots if you fail so the sensible play is to lay up. The mounds of the undulating and breathlessly tight 17th fairway ensure some interesting lies for a second shot that needs to clear a huge bunker right in front of the green, and it all ends with a long par-4 involving a long iron approach to an elevated, undulating green right in front of the clubhouse.
An award-winning facelift in the last few years included an upgraded drainage system that means that the course deals brilliantly with the short but heavy rains that you can get at certain times of year, and a diligent maintenance programme ensures the fairways are immaculate and the greens fast and true. Away from the course, there is a 50 bay driving range with an attached golf academy where you can submit yourself to video analysis, a pro shop if you think your problems stem from your equipment rather than your swing, and 6 restaurants and bars back in the clubhouse to unwind in. With a gym and facilities for tennis, bowling and swimming, a trip to the Keppel Club doesn't have to be all about golf, but with a course as enjoyable as this we'd recommend an extra nine over a game of tennis. A hidden gem that should form part of any Singapore golf holiday.
Like the sound of this course? Secure a tee time and take advantage of the discounted green fees on offer by adding Keppel Golf Club to your Singapore golf holiday package.