I’ll confess to a little naivety on my part here. When I got final details through of my trip to Singapore to cover the third staging of the Asian Amateur Championship, my first question was, “which airport am I flying into?” My colleague Neil Tappin quickly put me right, pointing out that as it’s a group of islands less than twice the size of the Isle of Wight, it only really has call for one international airport – Changi – where I landed at 2.30pm this afternoon local time (7.30am UK time).
To be honest I knew relatively little about the place then, but a little more now thanks to my own observations and experiences – it’s a little under 7,000 miles and 13 hours from Heathrow, they drive on the left, it’s extremely humid so weight gain shouldn’t be an issue this week – and then from a very helpful taxi driver who informed me that…
– Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1963 and from Malaysia in 1965
– The main island measures roughly 47 x 24km
– It is connected to Malaysia by two bridges – one in the north and one in the west
– There are many different religions, but Christianity is probably the main one
– Table-tennis (silver at the Beijing Olympics) and soccer are the main sports with Man Utd and Liverpool both attracting fanatical followings
I’m not here to cover either of those sports – though I was a dab-hand at Ping-Pong in my youth – but rather the third Asian Amateur Championship being staged at the New course at Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) from Thursday to Sunday this week (72-hole strokeplay) following successful events in China and Japan in 2009 and 2010.
SICC boasts four courses in two separate locations – I know this for a fact as I went to the wrong one first, realised my error, called the cab company and got a slightly bemused driver returning to pick me up having not even made it back to the main gates. He looked at me like I was some kind of fool.
The New course, at the club’s Island location, was renovated by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson back in 2002. Daylight only permitted the briefest of looks today, but I will undertake a full course recce tomorrow to check it out. Will an Asian player ever match Thomson’s Open record? Who knows, but initiatives like the Asian Amateur Championship – a joint venture among the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, The R&A and the Masters Tournament – can only serve to further strengthen the growth of the game in this region