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Hope for hacks

Kay Kimsong

A Chinese investor who has set up a golf academy in Phnom Penh expects it will encourage the sport among young people in Cambodia.

A Chinese investor has established an international golf academy in Phnom Penh in order to try to attract more Cambodian business people, senior officials and tourists to the sport, as well as young people, the project’s general manager, Summer Xia, told the Post on July 3.

“We set up this school with the aim to reach our vision to build up a Cambodian junior golf team, because in Cambodia, there are many senior officials who play golf,” said Xia.

The academy, set up at a cost of $150,000, had a soft opening a month ago and will officially tee off next month. Offering two- to three-month programs and charging $15 per hour for lessons, the academy already has 40 students enrolled, 80 percent of whom are Korean businessman.

Xia said the academy has invited four coaches from South Korea, China, and the Netherlands, as well as a Cambodian-American coach.

“This game is not like driving a car; you need to be skillful. But playing golf is addictive, like smoking heroin,” laughed Xia.

Cambodia currently has four golf courses, two each in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep, but would soon be home to ten courses, with new links in Sihanoukville and provinces near the Vietnam border. Phnom Penh also has four driving ranges.

Bun Sok, secretary of state of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, thought the academy would be a tool for encouraging business investment and saw it as a “sign of development, security and peace.”

Dalin Chhem, sales representative of the Angkor Golf Resort, said, “The golf academy can help our business as more people get involved in golf. Then more will come to our resort, and bring more customers to us.”  She hoped it would encourage younger and more local golfers.

While Minister of Tourism Thong Khon saw golf as a sort of luxury niche market for the tourism industry, he also noted that there were an estimated 60 million golfers worldwide, 17 million of which were Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

“If a golfer comes to Cambodia, he will not only be seeing Angkor Wat, but will play golf as well. Airfares are expensive, so if they come on one trip, they can enjoy many things,” Thong Khon said.

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