Published on January 18, 2022

Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong All Primed to Host the SMBC Singapore Open

The Serapong is renowned for showcasing spectacular views of the Singapore cityscape

The US$1.25 mil SMBC Singapore Open will be played at the Sentosa Golf Club’s award-winning Serapong Course this week. The Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation sanctioned tournament, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offers an increased prize purse of US$1.25mil, up from the previous year’s US$1mil.


The Serapong Course was upgraded recently, and according to Andrew Johnston, Sentosa Golf Club’s General Manager and Director of Agronomy, since the tournament was held in 2020, a few fundamental changes have been made to the layout.


A few questions were recently posed to Johnston, and below are his responses.


Andrew Johnston – Sentosa Golf Club General Manager & Director of Agronomy


How excited are you for the return of the SMBC Singapore Open after last year’s event was cancelled?


It is great to have the SMBC Singapore back at Sentosa Golf Club once again. After last year’s tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19, our entire team are excited to see some of the world’s best golfers return and play on the Serapong for the first time since it was renovated in 2020.


The team has been working hard to make sure that all aspects of the course are set up perfectly to allow for an entertaining four days of tournament golf to take place. It is always an honour to host Singapore’s National Open, and every year we pride ourselves on showcasing the best tournament-ready conditions, 365 days of the year.



Are there any changes made to make the golf course more difficult or otherwise for the pros?


Since the SMBC Singapore Open was last held at Sentosa Golf Club in 2020, a few key changes have been made to The Serapong during its renovation. The main feature characteristic of the course that was upgraded was the bunker complexes. None of the actual bunker locations has changed, but instead, we have modified the look and feel of them, giving each one a new rugged, creative serrated edge look with higher sand lines.


By using 6,000 tonnes of sand, an increase of 1.7ha, we have increased the size of the bunkers by nearly 30%, making them look deeper and bigger, and helped to reinstate consistency, texture, and tournament-ready compaction for improved playability throughout the tournament.


All the fairways have been re-grassed and rejuvenated with a fresh, clean layer of Zoysia Matrella with minor grading adjustments and improved drainage strategies. The tee boxes were re-levelled and reinstated with a tabletop flat finish that The Serapong is renowned for.


The renovations have preserved many of the Serapong’s iconic holes, although one major redesign has occurred on the sixth hole. The tee boxes have been realigned with the fairway and moved closer to the water, with a large waste bunker having been added down the entire left-hand side. This means players will now have to think more strategically during the tournament as they won’t be able to cut the corner down the left.


Additionally, a new false front, nicknamed ‘The Dragon’s Tongue’, has been added to the green, meaning players will need to find the correct yardage with their approach shot to find the centre of the green.



Will the level of difficulty be the same as the previous years, or have the recent changes to the golf course changed how professionals must approach their round?


Although some minor changes have been made to the layout of certain holes, none of these should significantly affect how the scoring goes throughout the tournament. The level of difficulty should be the same as in previous years as it was never our intention during the renovations to make The Serapong more difficult. Our team is always looking to find the right balance between providing the players with a challenge and allowing for entertaining high-scoring golf to take place.


Our main goal was to clean up the historic playing surfaces, showcasing more consistent levels of playing conditions. By upgrading the infrastructure and key areas of the course, we hope to provide a course that stands the test of time now during this year’s event and ranks amongst the world’s best for the next decade or so.


What in your opinion will the professionals find the hardest on The Serapong’s layout?


Throughout the tournament, the players will now have to comprehend with a few tighter lines off the tee with a few extra hazards now in play. They will all need to think more strategically when it comes to where they will need to land their tee shots to give them the best possible opportunity on the approach to the green.


Small changes to the tee complexes of holes 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8 on the front nine of The Serapong have brought them closer to the water, and by adding walls to increase the size of the tee to give them more space, they will bring more hazards into play.


Talk us through the preparations that are usually undertaken for the SMBC Singapore Open?


Whilst the Singapore Open normally takes place every year in January, our team are always focused on preparing tournament-ready conditions for our members and guests, 365 days of the year. This means that although preparations on the Serapong normally start a few weeks out from the tournament, the course itself is only closed fully the Sunday before the event and normally re-opens the day after the event.


Our dedicated agronomy team work hard throughout this period to make sure the transition from member golf to tournament golf is timed perfectly and the conditions on The Serapong peak just in time for the first tee shot on Thursday. As soon as the tournament has finished, our amazing team will be straight back out on the course getting it ready for members to enjoy its state-of-the-art conditions again the following day.


Sentosa Golf Club has been the host venue for the Singapore Open since 2005


What is the main focus of your golf course preparations in the build-up to the tournament?


Although our team spend a dedicated amount of time on all aspects of the course in the build-up to the tournament, the greens are what we pride ourselves on the most. Like every year of the championship, we will be looking to get the smooth roll and pace of the greens set up correctly, around high 13s to low 14s.


As well as generating the perfect speeds, the greens should also showcase good consistency throughout the tournament. During the renovations, each of the greens soil profile was modified by introducing new carbon technology through a drill-and-fill process to boost soil chemistry and profile structure.