Sentosa Golf Club will be thrust into the international limelight when it stages next month’s Barclays Singapore Open, the richest national Open in Asia. In an exclusive article for Asian Golf Monthly, Quality Golf’s discusses how his team has been preparing the Serapong Course for its biggest assignment. Picture by Tharm Sook Wai.

Make no mistake. Offering record prize money of US$3 million, the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club has announced itself as the Asian Tour’s ‘Major’ championship.

According to the course preparation brief issued by David Parkin, Tournament Director for the Asian Tour, come tournament week, from September 7-10, the Serapong Course must play at least as difficult as any other venue on the circuit, befitting its status as the region’s premier national Open.

To that end, the rough height programme commenced in early June under the watchful eye of Sentosa’s golf course director Sia Kuang Yiau. It will continue until roughs reach over 100 millimetres, making the course a true test of accuracy. By the time of the tournament, fairway corridors will be reduced to widths of 25 metres, which is standard for top-level championship golf.

To ensure international standard tournament conditions, Quality Golf’s Tournament Preparations Team – headed by certified golf course superintendent Gregg Swanson (pictured above) – began operations in mid-June.

Given Swanson’s considerable experience in working with TifEagle greens and Zoysia fairways, we are aiming for the best conditions ever in Singapore, ramping up to tournament time.

Our main focus over the next six weeks will continue to be working closely with the Sentosa team, ensuring optimum health of the greens going into the tournament. Once we have confirmed that a good rooting structure is in place, we will begin to lower the heights of cut to provide the smoothness and desired speeds that tournament players are so demanding of.

We are fortunate that Sentosa’s newly renovated Tanjong Course opened in mid-July, affording us ample time to get in and carry out the necessary work on the Serapong Course. We are also pleased at the level of commitment that has been made by the Sentosa Leisure Group and the club’s tournament chairman, committees and members to provide us with the tools to perform.

With such substantial prize money on offer, and the inherent international attention that a tournament of this stature commands, we in the Courses Department have to perform to our very best.

Raising the standards and, more importantly, maintaining them requires a combination of precise cultural practices for greens, tees, fairways and roughs; perfect timing; and quick thinking to handle any unexpected conditions that Mother Nature may present. 

The excitement of tournament preparations for events such as the Barclays Singapore Open is what those of us in the golf maintenance business live for! To see all your efforts, and those of your staff, peak for one week really presents a strong message both to the golfing public, and indeed to yourself, as to whether you have achieved the highest level in your career and can truly be considered a professional.

This article first appeared in the August issue of Asian Golf Monthly magazine.

Executive Director of Sentosa Golf Club, Robert Bird, subsequently added:
”To many people, the most important ingredient in the varied mix that goes into making a successful professional golf tournament is the conditioning of the course, and rightly so. This is the stage on which 144 top professional golfers are being asked to perform at their very best. We owe it to them to provide a superior playing surface as well as a stern test of their golfing skills. As such, it is incumbent upon Sentosa Golf Club, as proud hosts of this event, to ensure that our Serapong course is suitably prepared come September 7th. We have addressed this obligation by augmenting our existing course maintenance team with the experience and expertise of Quality Golf. Working alongside our Golf Course Director Sia Kuang Yiau, Quality Golf’s and Gregg Swanson have been focusing their attention on Serapong since the beginning of June. As a team they have been meticulous in planning and implementing programmes to address the various challenges that a task of this nature provides.”

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