As I arrive for our lunch date at Laguna National Golf & Country Club (LNGCC), I’m greeted by Goh Kui Hwa and am immediately reminded of a Jack Nicklaus quote which she’d messaged me earlier that day – “I’m a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”
Over lunch at The Nest, Kui Hwa exudes energy, enthusiasm and passion every time she talks about her role in the golf community, her career, her game and her family and friends. She possesses that dedication, get-up-and-go and can-do attitude that would put many women half her age to shame.
The 54-year-old was recently elected at Vice-President of the Singapore Ladies Golf Association (SLGA), having served as its Honorary Secretary since 2015. However, her golf committee work goes way beyond these volunteer roles.
Since 2013, Kui Hwa, whose handicap is 14.1, has been the Lady Club Representative of LNGCC, on its Handicap Committee since 2014, its Green Committee from 2006-2011 and a Board Member of the SGA since 2016. Others include Team Manager/Mentor for the golf team at the 2005 SEA Games and Team Captain for the 2016 Queen Sirikit Cup.
She shares, “My position in the SLGA now as VP is a new role for me. Being an EXCO member since 2014, I think the SLGA has gone through quite a fair bit of changes and improvements. But there is room for growth.”
“Locally, we have started to engage more lady golfers through our Evergreen program. We will continue to bring more benefits in this area. We also hope to expand these activities to more lady golfers who may not own any club membership in Singapore.”
She adds, “I will support what we’ve done for the past 2.5 years. Together with the new team, I will continue with my own operation and administration to groom the new executives. That’s very important. That’s my forte.”
The mother of two daughters – her 21-year-old is studying Social Sciences and a Diploma in Fashion Design at @ SMU while her 27-year-old is doing Christian education & part-time work in the F&B industry – is also a trained Psychotherapist who runs her practice from home.
As well as other non-golf related appointments, Kui Hwa has also acted as a Volunteer (Counsellor) for the Singapore Anti Narcotics Association and a Volunteer (Prison Counsellor & Trainer) for the Singapore After Care Association since 2008 and presents at various schools how to identify and deal with ADHD.
“Since I’ve been involved in the SLGA I have less time to meet my clients because it’s a commitment. I have slowed down my business as I need to be fair to my clients but I still counsel them over the phone to guide them on where to seek help.”
So how does she do it all and maintain her positive attitude and bubbliness? “My husband Tay Hwee Boon is the pillar behind all my work. Without his support, I don’t think it is possible.” She continues, “Also the support from LNGCC is most helpful. The staff and management have extended to me good trust and help when I much needed it. And of course, the people I work with, in particular, all my EXCO & GC members who are there to help each other.”
Time management, communication and preparation are also good friends of Kui Hwa’s and she does a lot of research and preparation in advance for everything she sets her mind to. “But to be honest, sometimes I get stuck – it’s either the wrong day or wrong time and it gets overwhelming. I’m a solution-focused person, so if I have a problem or challenge I won’t say die!” She adds, laughing, “I will sit down and think about how to solve it. I will do my homework and seek help.”
Kui Hwa is the daughter of the Chairman of New Moon, one of Singapore’s premium brands, yet unlike her four brothers had no desire to join the family business. “I didn’t want to go into it. My passion is to volunteer in the community – I love to serve. I can be a businesswoman but I chose not to. My father has given me a lot of opportunities to open another business but I always turn him down. I say that’s not my cup of tea.”
What she is focusing on now is her new role with the SLGA and the work which has to be done over the next four years. “In the past one term, Lyn has helped to bring the SLGA to a different level. There will be more activities, more inclusiveness on non-club owners. A lot of ladies don’t have a golf club and we work with SPH Swing and affiliated associations. All the clubs have been supportive. Moving forward we’re also looking forward to working more with other overseas ladies golf associations.”
She continues, “I told Lyn that I will continue to support her but I will be overlooking the operation together with the new team, to groom them and hopefully in the future they will be able to take over themselves. We’ll need to retire but not so soon! Volunteers must also retire!”
I have of course seen Kui Hwa over the years at very golf events but had never got to sit down and really get to know her and find out more about her dedication to growing the women’s game in the local community. As we said our goodbyes, I was left with the strong impression that this is definitely one lady you want to have on your team.
Quick Fire Personal Facts
I have two: 16th October 2010 @ Laguna’s Master Course – hole 17. In 2011during a League Practice Round at Orchid Country Club.
Regular Golf Kakis?
Saturday mornings with Laguna members Debbie Tan, Sally Heng & Liza Koh. Sunday mornings with my husband and the men who call me buaya.
Favourite Golf Destination?
Hong Kong’s Clearwater Bay is my favourite course as it oversees the ocean and is so relaxing. But it is a challenging course, and you can play it over and over again and still not conquer it as the wind plays a part. I love Hong Kong because of the food and the shopping.
How do you switch off?
Going to the SPA or the gym. I also watch Hong Kong television dramas.
Before golf, I must ensure that I have proper skin care with sunblock. Then at the tee box I’ll spray and touch up again and after every six and nine holes, I’ll do a touch-up. I use Sisley, Sulwhasoo and Chanel. I also take oral sunblock tablets and I see there’s a lot of improvement so I’ll use the Heliocare on top of sunblock.
What is it that you love about the game?
First I must enjoy playing with the people. Second, I have a target, meaning my handicap – I’d like to break that score. Third, I like to practise my filter – meaning there are so many things going on. Being on a golf course is one of the times I can switch off.
Why should women take up golf?
To me, golf is very important, as it’s a stepping-stone in your career. But whether it’s for your career or if you’re a housewife it’s because golf is no more a man’s game. The only challenge why people are not playing golf is not because they don’t like golf it’s because of the sun. There are many choices – you can play night golf, can cover up, can do proper skin care. I think moving forward people will come up with a 6 or 16 hole golf game for example instead of 18 and that will encourage more women golfers.
What’s in the bag?
Uses Men’s woods & Ladies irons
XXIO Woods – 3, 5, 7,
Maruman Woods – 9, 11, 13
Maruman Irons – A, 9, 8, 7,
60 degree Cleveland wedge
Putter: Scotty Cameron Square Back
Goh Kui Hwa is featured on the cover of Golf/Women Volume 11.
Photography by Mark Law, by Mark Law Studio (www.MARKLAW.com.sg)
Styling by Shaun Chen
Hair & makeup by Airin Lee
Special thanks to Chopard