Friday, May 15, 2009

The mysterious disc golf basket in downtown Singapore

I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I was on my way home from the CBD in Singapore, on the 70 bus. I was looking out the window as we passed SunTec City, the giant mall and convention center near the City Hall subway stop. Singapore was still a new place to me at the time, so there were many unusual sights for me to see. But this forced a double-take:

What in the world is a disc golf basket doing there?!

Disc golf in Asia is very rare indeed. The biannual Japan Open is well known and well attended (even if people grumble about the 150-weight-class requirement), and earlier this year Taiwan staged the first-ever Asia Open. There is also a course on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. (Tragically, I took a trip to Koh Samui a few months ago, and despite knowing that there was a course somewhere in Thailand, I didn't realize it was actually the very spot I was on holiday until after I got back. Foolish. Anyway, I heard rumors that it has closed, which I hope is not true, though it would make me feel better since I blew it so badly earlier.) And of course, there's my failed attempt to get something going in Beijing.

The game does exist here in Singapore, despite the absence of permanent courses. This is pretty much all thanks to die-hard Lance DuBos, an ultimate player who acquired some portable golf baskets along the way and trucks them out to various spots on the island most weekends. There is a very small core of us that get together for a few hours, most often at the state-land park next to Kallang MRT, and throw discs -- that is, when we don't get pummeled by violent downpours and bone-rattling thunder-and-lightning strikes.

But no one can explain the basket pictured above; no one else even knew it existed. From what I can tell, it's on the grounds of the Raffles Education Corp College. I'm not entirely sure what this college is all about, but they seem to have some sort of design program. My best guess is that some student sometime put together a disc golf basket for a project and they just kept it around because it was quirky. It sits there, apparently embedded in the ground (it's not portable), sitting unused in a small plot of lawn next to a basketball court. I wonder if it's ever tasted the sweet ching of a disc sliding through its hanging chains...

I can think of several better places to put that basket (and between 8 and 17 others). Kallang would be one, though I think it works better as a temporary course. Another would be the plot of state land at the end of Guillemard road where it meets Sims, right next to the Judo Club. That spot is a little too swampy, though.

The most perfect spot on the island, from what I've seen, is the vast plot of rolling hills on Upper Serangoon Rd, between Aljunied and Braddell Rds., the site of the old Bidadari cemetery. It is a crime not to have a disc golf course there. If we could only figure out the origin of that mysterious basket across from SunTec, maybe we could get this place on course to be a truly industrialized nation.

**UPDATE** (March 30, 2010): There is now an object disc-golf course at the old Bidadari Cemetery in Singapore: Bidadari Disc Golf Course. Contact me if you want to play, or check out the map.

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