Going All In – LLD Sports’ Lyn Yeo

15 Jan 2024

Lyn Yeo pushes for women and junior golf.

If there is one word that’s missing from Lyn Yeo’s vocabulary, it’s probably ‘cannot’. The businesswoman-turned-golf impresario has defied the odds to launch a golf events and promotion company that has brought women and junior golfers in Singapore to the forefront of the game. Golf Asia delves a little deeper to find out what drives her.

In a nutshell, tell us who Lyn Yeo is?

I’m a divorced mother of two sons and one daughter. I love fashion, meat, golf and skiing. I don’t eat vegetables. I also love watching all kinds of sports, especially the Olympics, and, yes, cricket!

How did you get into golf?

I started playing golf when my sons started kindergarten, but I’ve played sports since young. I represented my school in tennis, volleyball, athletics, and hockey. Golf was a natural transition. I’ve always enjoyed following golf, Seve Ballesteros being my favorite golfer, followed by Phil Michelson—both larger than life personalities who were not afraid of controversy.

Eighteen months after learning the game, I got my handicap to a single digit and began playing competitively. I just love the pressure and adrenalin of tournament golf and money games. I’ve won the Singapore Island Country Club championship, finished second overall at the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open, won the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open Mid-Amateu Individual and Team titles, and won the Sentosa Golf Club Ladies Championship six times.

I then started serving members of my golf club as a committee member, and lady captain of Sentosa Golf Club. When I was put in charge of junior golfers’ development at the Singapore Golf Association, I started my love affair with junior golf and became obsessed with sending a Singapore golfer to a major tournament and the Olympics one day.

How do you always look glamorous while playing golf?

Golf and glamour go hand in hand, especially for women who have free reign to express themselves on and off the course. I’ve always been fashion conscious and was exposed to fashion from a young age, helping out at my grandfather’s reptile skin shop on Stamford Road.

Now, I keep an eye out for new golf brands when I travel. I wear them almost exclusively for a couple of seasons until they catch on with other golfers. Then I set them aside and, if they still fit, wear them again years later. When I throw golf parties, there’s always a theme, and I’m happy to add that the ladies always dress up in their glamourous best. I love to dress up, get my hair and makeup done, and I’m certain most lady golfers love to dress up and party too.

Why the passion for golf?

I loved the game even before I started playing. And when I did start in my late 20s, I was hooked! It helped that I became a decent player relatively fast and then developed into a pretty competitive player within a few years. The glamour, the style, the discipline, the values and the difficulty and yet simplicity of just trying to hit a stationary ball – I love everything golf represents.

In my early years, I even harbored a fantasy to compete professionally in a ladies’ senior tour one day. And I particularly like how golf brings out the best and worst in everyone. Golf reveals so much of a person in just one round.

“The glamour, the style, the discipline, the values, the difficulty, and yet simplicity of just trying to hit a stationary ball – I love everything golf represents!”

 

Golf is one of the best sports for a young child. I see the independence and discipline that a golfer as young as five displays in my tournaments. They have to be punctual, honest, patient, respectful, and learn to control their tantrums and emotions. They also have to learn to endure some hardships and deal with the antics of fellow competitors. It gives me immense pleasure to see the kids change and grow with each tournament.

And that’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about junior golf. Hopefully, I can play a small role in an ecosystem that will enable more younger kids to play the game. I think it’s a great sport for kids 12 years and under. Playing the game for a few years will instill many good qualities that will serve them well in life.

And you’ve turned your passion into something more, haven’t you?

I approached China LPGA in 2019 and negotiated for a tournament in Singapore. SGA turned it down, so I set up my own company to underwrite the tournament. It was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. In 2023, I went ahead with it even before securing a title sponsor.

TrustGolf and Laguna National were my first sponsors, followed by Mr Ni Biao, Marina Bay Sands, and CarTimes Group. With the help of 100 volunteers and the Laguna National Golf and Country Club (LNGCC) team, the Singapore Ladies Masters (SLM) was held in July and received great reviews from players and the press. It was deemed a huge success.

Golf is one of the best sports for a young child. They have to be punctual, honest, patient, respectful, and learn to control their tantrums and emotions.

 

Singapore didn’t have a tournament where local players stood a chance to contend or challenge. SLM filled the gap. A total of seven Singapore players (two pros and five amateurs) competed, and three made the cut. Amateur Shannon Tan won, and Pro Amanda Tan finished 10th. Hopefully, we will have more Singapore players in 2024 and the SLM will become a launch pad for our girls onto the world stage.

And presumably, there is more to come….

I set up LLD Sports Development and Management to secure the rights to host a China LPGA tournament. It also runs the Singapore Junior Development Tour. All in all, LLD Sports organizes close to 20 junior golf days a year, including the Singapore Junior Masters, Junior Mixed Series, the MOE National Schools Games for primary and secondary schools, and the Singapore qualifiers for the US Kids Golf World Championships, the FCG Callaway World Championships, the Adidas Junior 6s Tour World Final and many other Junior Championships in the region.

LLD has also formed alliances with junior tours and organized friendly internationals for the juniors. Any signs of potential from our young women golfers? The promise shown by young golfers like Shannon Tan, Anne Fernandez, and Sydnie Ng prompted me to create a platform and tournaments for them. And it has paid off handsomely with some early successes shown by the three of them in 2023.

Shannon won the Singapore Ladies Masters, Sydnie won the FCG World Championship, and Anne performed very well in the Women’s Amateur. But they still have a long way to go. Since I’m counting on one of them to fulfil my Olympics dream, I have to keep going until one of them makes my dream come true.

The fast-growing junior scene has motivated me further, especially with the emergence of a few younger players who are showing great promise. Their desire to succeed at the highest level inspires me to keep plodding, even in the face of adversity. They have set the bar high for themselves and are not afraid to work hard, even at the tender age of eight!

Junior golfers have a small window to develop and I hope to provide them with the best platform and the chance to succeed. With the immense support provided by LNGCC, promising players now have a world-class facility in which to compete and train. I honestly believe that one of these girls will make my dreams come true and do Singapore proud one day soon.

DID YOU KNOW…
…before golf I used to run a wholesale business? I was importing Italian and French fashion in my twenties.
…the best party I’ve ever been to was in Milan? It was during fashion week where I saw Gianni Versace, Linda Evangelista, and countless other celebs and models.
…when I play golf, I never fail to put on sunblock? I’ve played for 30 years and have managed to protect my skin from the sun!

 

You’ve mentored a few junior golfers—tell us about that journey.

I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of Shannon’s journey for close to six years now. She has hit all the milestones and, hopefully, is on her way to earning a tour card soon. I was hoping she would win the Singapore Ladies Masters one day but never expected her fairy-tale triumph to come at the inaugural event! She has an outside albeit remote chance to qualify for the 2024 Olympics if given the opportunities to play and do well in a few more professional tournaments.

Sydnie Ng, who is 12, was talent-scouted four years ago. At nine, she started playing in my events. In her first-ever 18 holes played at the Classic course, she shot a very respectable 104 off the regular red tees. In a year, she broke 80 on the Masters Course. Now, she can break par off the whites at the Masters Course. Sydnie has amazing work ethics for one so young, and trains for several hours every single day.

“I also hope that golf will be reinstated as a CCA in schools and we will have the mass start playing the game to sustain the sport in Singapore.”

 

Emma Nie is only eight years old but shows great promise, too. She seems to love playing and practicing and has proven to be able to withstand pressure. She recently won a playoff by sinking two pressure putts on the extra holes. And what I loved was her fist pump! I like her grit and passion. Hallmarks of a champion in the making. She’s still very young but I have a good feeling about her

What’s next?

The CLPGA Q Series – a 54-hole, two-day tournament for female professionals, and both men and women amateurs. Each tournament will carry a minimum S$10,000 in prize money and amateurs can win up to US$1,000. The tournament will be streamed live in China and can be viewed by all on the Q Series App. I hope to attract young professionals and elite amateur players from Singapore and the region.

China launched the Q series successfully and will have up to 20 events in 2024. Singapore will host four in 2024. The Order of Merit Winner will receive an exemption to SLM and other CLPGA tournaments. I think the next the years, leading up to Olympics 2028, will be exciting for Singapore golf as our players come of age and we start seeing more Singapore players playing college golf and competing in major tours. Ideally, this should culminate in a golfer qualifying for the Olympics. I also hope that golf will be reinstated as a CCA in schools and we will have the mass start playing the game to sustain the sport in Singapore.

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