Turning Golf Into A Day Job

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By June Ramli

Shan Ramdas had always wanted to manage a golf club but the break to his dream career did not come easy. Upon graduating with a Sports and Management degree from the prestigious University of Malaya, Ramdas remembers how he had to settle for numerous odd jobs in the interim before his day came.

Check out our exclusive interview with Shan Ramdas here.

“When I graduated, it was during the 1999 recession and jobs were hard to come by. 
“So, I worked in numerous other places like in the hotel sector and the IT industry.
“I finally landed a job at the Meru Valley Golf Resort in Ipoh, Perak, and that too after three years of graduating with a sports-related degree,” he said.
A couple of years passed and Ramdas excelled so much in the job that one of his managers offered him another role in Singapore.
This was the catalyst that made Ramdas leave Malaysia to work abroad. 
He first started his career at Singapore’s Seletar Golf Club and worked several years there before moving to Auckland, New Zealand to do the same job.
However, that chapter in his life was short-lived when he decided to return to Singapore for personal reasons.
Upon his return, Ramdas received an offer to manage the indoor sports facility at another organisation and worked for eight years straight.
But deep down inside, Ramdas was itching to return to work for a golf club and that was when fate decided to step in. 
One day, a friend of his had heard of an opening at a little-known golf course in Bali, Indonesia.
Word soon got to Ramdas and he decided to do the inevitable. 
“I decided to go there for a holiday and check the opportunity out,” he told dailystraits.com in a recent interview.
The former Anderson schoolboy even went as far as forking his own money out for the flight ticket.
When he arrived at Denpasar, he found out that the club’s general manager was unwell and was undergoing treatment overseas. 
However, as he had failed to return to the job within the company’s stipulated deadline, the management decided to start looking for his replacement.

Shan Ramdas in Bali, Indonesia.
Shan Ramdas in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: Supplied.

“Thinking back, I am not sure if they interviewed others for the job, but I knew if I took the role, I would have had my work cut out for me,” he said.
“It was a tired-looking resort then and coming from Singapore where everything was so systematic. This opportunity was going to be a big change with a huge pay cut for me,” he said.
Six years have passed since the interview first took place and Ramdas who was apprehensive about the role at first decided to take the plunge upon realising that he would be made in charge of the hotel, restaurant business as well as running the golf course. 
“If it wasn’t for this job, I would have taken a master’s degree to gain experience in managing a sports facility and a business.
“So, I decided to take the role because the added experience would be a good look for my resume,” he said.
Once in Bali, Ramdas wasted no time learning the local language.
“In Malaysia, I only spoke Malay when ordering at the gerai (stalls) as everyone in Malaysia and even Singapore spoke in English, so there was no need for me to speak in the language.
“But since I was in a remote area (in Bali), and English wasn’t spoken widely here, I had no choice but to learn the language,” he said, adding that it took him a year to master the Indonesian language.

The perks of the job are being able to play golf all day long. Photo: Supplied.

Now, Ramdas speaks the language so fluently that the locals have regarded him as one of their own. 
On working in Bali, Ramdas said it was a very laid-back culture that some people might need time to adjust to.
“People here are not career-minded and not looking to climb the career ladder,” he said.
“If you are coming from a city like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Jakarta, the Balinese way of living will take some getting used to. 
“For example, if you have an issue with an internet provider and you need a house call, it won’t be immediate like when you are in a city, things here are pretty slow.
“You can expect to wait for one or two days before you get served,” he said. 
On salary, Ramdas said most ex-pats were paid in the local currency that is remitted in a local bank account.
“Gone are the days of American dollars. Nowadays everything is rounded up towards (the) local currency,” he said. 
He also said that ex-pats in Indonesia, are paid a net salary and taxes are borne by the company.
Expatriates in Indonesia also contribute to a retirement fund known as BPJS which is operated slightly differently than most retirement funds within the ASEAN region.
“It is very little, the contribution ratio is two per cent from staff and three per cent from the employer. Workers can also take the money out once they have resigned (from the company) or they can opt to leave it in there for the interest,” he said. 
He said for foreigners to be gainfully employed in a country such as Indonesia they would need two working permits which are the KITAS and IMTA work permits.
“Both permits need to go hand in hand and expenses for the permits are usually borne by the hiring company. 
“There aren’t many jobs for foreigners in Indonesia because this is a country with a large population but there are some specialised fields such as General Managers for resorts, chefs and English teachers that are opened to foreign workers,” he said. 
Ramdas said the other alternative for foreigners to come and work in the country was by being a digital nomad.
He also said that foreigners in Bali could buy a car, or a motorbike but not a house because banks would not provide loans.
For purchases such as a home, foreigners would need to fork out the cash upfront and in full. 
“Most of these houses are sold on a lease basis.
“You will get (the house) for at least 30 years and if something happens, your next of kin can take over the remaining years.
“They won’t be able to sell it or give it to others until the lease expires,” he explained. 
All in all, Ramdas doesn’t regret the move he made to Indonesia years ago.
“It’s a very chilled lifestyle here.
“Another reason why I love it here is that I made friends with a large number of people coming from every part of the world,” he said.

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