American Society of Golf Course Architects

Families drive golf in Thailand

"Golf Course Architecture" magazine reports three Thai families are showing that an important place in golf remains for private family investment and management in the game.

In each case, the Phornprapha family's Siam Country Club, the Samakoses family's Chiang Mai Highlands and Muang Kaew courses and the Pongsak family's Suwan Golf and Country Club owe their current status in Thai golf circles to the foresight and dedication of the current chief executives' grandfathers.

All were visionaries and self-made men who acquired land in expanding areas, turning it into a productive business that just happened to be golf courses.

The grandfather of Chai Phornprapha, managing director of Siam Country Club near Pattaya, ran a junkyard business that recycled old parts and machinery. From there, he developed business relationships in Japan that grew into a manufacturing joint venture in Thailand with Japanese partners. It proved so successful that additional manufacturing joint ventures soon followed.

But golf is also important, as Siam Country Club's twin courses – with a third being built – demonstrate. More than 80,000 golfers a year, many from overseas, play at Siam Country Club's Old and Plantation courses each year. The former farming land – that grew pineapples, tapioca and sugar cane – has been owned by the Phornprapha family for more than 40 years. Its Old course, built in 1970, was the first privately-owned golf course in Thailand and has hosted the Honda LPGA Classic for the past two years, as well as in 2008. By the time the Waterside course opens in 2014, annual visitor numbers at the three courses will exceed 120,000.

The complete article can be found here.