SMBC Singapore Open 2022

Sentosa Golf Club’s majestic Serapong Course is primed to reveal a ‘meaner’ personality at this week’s SMBC Singapore Open.

Perennially regarded as one of Asia’s most demanding golfing tests, the venue for the Asian Tour’s 2021-2022 season-ending event (January 20-23) has been further enhanced, writes Contributing Editor Spencer Robinson..

Once more, the course will examine every facet of a player’s game with recent upgrades ensuring there will be a special focus on sand skills at the award-winning layout.

While the course will once more be presented in the pristine conditions which players have become accustomed to, a beach party it may not prove to be.

Andy Johnston, Sentosa Golf Club’s General Manager and Director of Agronomy, said: “The first thing players will notice after the glowing conditions of the improved grasses, which will make the course look even more majestic, will be the bunkering.

“The bunkers are in the same locations, but the sand lines are now much higher. We removed all the old sand, replaced the liners and added new sand. But in the process we changed the sand lines to a rugged, unorthodox and serrated edge look – a design that many championship courses around the world use on their bunkers.

“It really brings out the personality of The Serapong and the new sand lines increase the size of the bunkers by nearly 30 per cent. This makes them stand out more and, quite frankly, they look meaner.”

Regular visitors to The Serapong course will notice also some small changes to the tee complexes on holes two, four, six, seven and eight.

Serapong Course

SINGAPORE- The 18th hole pictured on Sunday January 20, 2019 during the final round of the SMBC Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore. Picture by Paul Lakatos/SPORTFIVE.

Johnston said: “We have moved them closer to the water and added walls to increase the size of the tee to give them more space, so in certain cases they bring more of the hazard into play.

“They will also notice the redesign of hole six where we have moved the fairway closer to the water, added a large waste bunker, redesigned the fairway bunker strategy and added a testing false front to the green, which is nicknamed ‘The Dragon’s Tongue’.”

According to Johnston, the changes made will not significantly affect the scoring.

He said: “To be honest, that was never the intention of the course upgrades. The Serapong course is already a true test of golf for both professionals and amateur players alike.

“The goals were to clean up the historic playing surfaces, offering more consistent playing conditions, to upgrade the infrastructure where drainage was failing and also remove the heavy organics that had built up in the soil profile of the past 20 years. I believe the course is in superb condition right now.”

Praising the work of his agronomy and greenkeeping teams, Johnston said The Serapong was closed for final preparations on Sunday (January 16).

He said: “We have a seasoned group of tournament warriors meticulously following our usual playbook for tournament preparations. For us, the focus is all about delivering tournament-ready conditions, 365 days of the year.

“The entire course receives maximum focus, although we all know it is about the greens. The smooth roll and the pace are what sets the tone for a great event. In almost every championship I have been involved in since 2010 we have seen high 13s to low 14s (on the stimpmeter). This year will be no different.”

*Information and images credit www.asiantour.com

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