SINGAPORE – Going floral is the theme in the scheme of things for Orchid Country Club’s fresh, rejuvenated look.
With a club name that symbolises Singapore’s national flower and courses designated as Dendro, Vanda and Aranda, it is no surprise that herbage and verdant greenery are vital to the landscape of the Orchid courses.
That being the backdrop, the redevelopment of the three courses, which started with Vanda (completed last June), Dendro (play resumes this month) and Aranda (to be ready in next June), envisions a colourful combination of landscaping and vegetation with plants, shrubs and trees ideally located along the 54 holes.
I was given an exciting experience at the par-37 redeveloped Dendro recently and I was overwhelmed that it ticked most boxes on my scrutiny.
Beginning from the first hole, a testing par-five, the sprucing up was noticeable from the tee-box.
Fresh plants neatly organised behind the tee-box gave it not just appeal and charm but also a feeling of warmth and fascination.
And as you navigate through the holes a clear welcome observation are the re-contoured bunkers that are beautifully shaped and offer a semblance of asymmetry which adds to the aesthetics along with the well-trimmed Zoysia fairways.
Generally, the layout remains, but there is character in the holes with a visible neatness brought about in almost all holes with the elimination of unwanted distractions and a clearer view to the greens.
The greens have been noticeably improved and the use of TifEagle grass has made it a joy to putt as the turf surfaces are truer although better reading of the undulations is now more than necessary.
If there is one drawback, it is the layout of the par-four ninth hole which provides a good take-off from the tees, but the ragged fairway needs a makeover and the second bunker at the 220-metre mark on the right could be eliminated.
As it is, the hole has a fairway bunker and two massive greenside bunkers which could ruin a high handicapper’s score. And the area near the pump station on the left fairway needs tidying up.
All in all, the Orchid course offers a pleasurable golfing experience, and as members look forward to the Aranda course receiving a brush-down, they can rest assured that they will have three respectable nines worth the value of the market price of $28,000.
Therefore, it was rather surprising that a recent golf survey placed Orchid’s Vanda/Aranda course at the bottom of the pile at 17th in the ratings for local golf clubs. One irate member reacted, saying: “You should not rate a course that is undergoing redevelopment. Still, Vanda/Aranda offer a better golfing experience than courses of at least three other clubs.”
Owned by NTUC Club, the club is a premier golf and country club with a wide variety of recreational facilities other than golf, namely sports such as bowling (36-lane alley), swimming (three pools) and tennis and futsal courts, a gym, a 160-bay driving range and a 75-room hotel.
So come June, the proprietary club should do well to cater to the corporate and union members, the latter group of which was foremost in the mind of the course designer, the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong (former Singapore President, with architect Alan Choe), who was instrumental in setting up the club in 1993.
Cost effectiveness and value for money were two other factors that deserve consideration as Orchid’s cough-up for redevelopment – after 12 years – is $250,000 per hole, a quarter of what most clubs in Singapore had dished out.