Easier than its sister course but still no walk in the park. The technical and scenic back-nine more than justifies the green fees.
The more easy-going of the two excellent courses at Raffles Country Club, the Lake Course runs alongside the picturesque Tengeh Reservoir in a fabulous lakeside environment of gentle earth-mounding, generous fairways and extensive bunkering. Scenic views over the Straits of Johor and the abundant wildlife that inhabits the swamplands through which the course runs are ample compensation for the traffic noise that is audible over parts of the front nine.
The opener offers the chance to get off to a good start, a par-5 reachable in two if you can find the narrow landing zone off the tee and thread your second between the fairway bunkers to the left and the greenside bunkers to the right. Anything left of the raised green can easily kick out of bounds though, so the more conservative golfer should probably play the hole in regulation and try to leave a short birdie putt. The 2nd is a very scenic par-3 with water from tee to green and a pretty backdrop of palm trees. The shallow green means club selection is crucial, especially with bunkers in front and behind. The 4th is the hardest hole on the front nine, mainly thanks to the pond that runs the entire length of the hole. The narrow green features water on both sides and a long bunker on its right edge, ensuring that even low handicappers will struggle to make par. Thankfully, the next few holes are relatively straightforward, all with wide landing zones and an absence of water in play, although the narrow green of the long par-3 8th and the three bunkers guarding the route to the green of the 9th mean you can't be too complacent.
After the turn, things get tighter and more technical. The best play to the 's' shaped fairway of the 10th is to try to carry the bunker on the left, although you run the risk of drawing the ball out of bounds. Most play short of the right hand sand trap, but this leaves a blind but makeable approach to an undulating green guarded by another pair of bunkers. The par-4 13th dog-legs left with the left edge of the fairway hugging the reservoir. You need a bold drive, cutting off as much of the water as you dare, to leave yourself the best angle of approach to a green that slopes towards the water. The 15th is a driveable par-4, although most attempts to reach the green in one end up in one of the four bunkers protecting the direct route. You can still easily get birdie with the more conservative play, but when you're on the tee it's hard to resist going for glory. The 16th is the best short hole on the course, with water from tee to green and a plateau putting surface that is so shallow it's all too easy to end up either in the bunker in front or the water behind. A par should almost be regarded as a bonus at the very tough par-4 17th which dog-legs around water that most be carried on both your drive and approach; the shot(s) you drop here may encourage you to try to reach the green of the par-5 that concludes the round in two, but you'll again have to carry water as well as contend with the palm trees blocking your path to succeed. Even then, getting down on the two-tier green is no easy proposition.
The Zoysia fairways and greens that were the result of an extensive renovation back in 2001 are still in great shape, particularly the putting surfaces which are true and very fast, amongst the very best in Singapore. Away from the course itself there are full practice facilities including fairway bunker (handy in light of the number of sand traps you'll face), large pro shop, fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool as well as tennis and squash courts. A golfer's terrace serves local and international food, snacks are available at the lakefront cafe and the wine bar is the perfect place to unwind and relive your best shots. A round at the Lake Course at Raffles Country Club will be a highly enjoyable and absorbing addition to any Singapore golf holiday.
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