LEISURE & ENTERTAINMENT | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore Polo Club's Sylvan Braberry talks about future-proofing social clubs

Clubs need to defend their value to the community.

Throughout the years, the appeal of the "sport of kings" has never been lost on Sylvan Braberry, general manager of Singapore Polo Club. The surrounding excitement of the sport as well as the various activities it offers including riding, lifestyle, health and wellness has driven him to stay in order to maintain the enduring legacy of one of Singapore's oldest social clubs. 

Having joined a sports and social club at age 26, Braberry served in various capacities before he served as Club Chairman in 2003 and was later appointed CEO of the world's richest golf and country club four years later. He also served as CEO of CMAA Asia Pacific where he introduced club management programmes that could raise the standards of club management in the industry. 

In an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review, Braberry explains the offerings of Singapore Polo Club and how social clubs can ensure their sustainability. 

SBR: How are traditional social clubs like the Singapore Polo Club different from Private Member’s Club’s that have recently opened in Singapore?

The Singapore Polo Club is one of the oldest polo clubs in the world, rich in heritage and a history that goes as far back as 1886. Being the only polo club in Singapore, we offer an exciting lifestyle that surrounds polo, riding and lifestyle that caters to all ages and families and one of its kind in Singapore.

Private Member’s Club target mainly executives and the affluent and most offer state of the art business support and networking or connectivity events that encourage business opportunities for their members. Due to high rental, the family element is missing unlike traditional social clubs that have more facilities activities designed to cater for a larger base of members targeting families.

SBR: What kind of members is the Singapore Polo Club made up of? Do you have to play polo to become a member?

Our club is really a cosmopolitan club with many nationalities from all over the world that make up our members. A large percentage are leaders and senior executives of large organisations and businesses, while we also have a large number of family memberships. In short, the perfect mix for any club. The general public seems to think that you need to be able to play polo or ride to be a member of the Club, however this is not the case. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join.

SBR: What’s the price range of membership at the club?

The Club’s membership price ranges from $6,000 to $20,000 and caters for various categories of members to suit each individual’s social and lifestyle needs.

SBR: What offerings does the Singapore Polo Club have that the general public may not know about?

The Club offers an exciting opportunity into the thrilling world of polo not found in Singapore, and set within such tranquil settings near the city. With world class polo professionals from Singapore and Argentina, the world’s leading polo nation, we offer a level of polo that is not seen anywhere in Singapore. We even have players as young as 6 years old who are being introduced to the sport, and players even in their seventies.

Our Riding Academy is one of a kind that offers different levels of instruction from as young as 5 years old. The Academy has seen its riding base expand to as many as 280 riders, and the experience is incredibly rewarding.

The lifestyle that surrounds the sport of polo is the epitome of fashion, party and friendship that is affordable, and opens the door for all to experience and enjoy.

Our Pony Academy has been so successful that our summer camps and other vibrant and fun activities have received fantastic feedback from children and families. Coupled with tennis, squash, swimming, spa, gym and a food & beverage, I’m not surprised that we have seen more interest in our Club.

SBR: What can members and potential members expect in the future from the club?

Having completed a survey from members and the public, the Committee has plans to redevelop and upgrade the club to take us to another level of experience for individuals and families. A new exciting era is in the air for our Club, and the key word here from our President is “resurgence”.

SBR: What predictions do you have for social clubs in Singapore given the recent spate of acquisitions of golf courses?

There are more than one hundred clubs in Singapore and I humbly believe that land acquisition will not just affect golf clubs, but social clubs as well, as the Government balances between redevelopment, progress and the needs of the larger community.

SBR: How can traditional social clubs future-proof themselves?

Social clubs need to justify the land they sit on and what their value is to the community. They would also have to be gracious and harmonious by promoting family values and be seen as inclusive. Unfortunately for whatever reasons, clubs have been long perceived as political and exclusive. This has to change.

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