American golfing legend Arnold Palmer has confirmed his
company is designing two 18-hole golf courses for the Sokha Hotel group's $1
billion makeover of the decaying, French-colonial-era Bokor Mountain resort.
"From the preliminary design stages to course opening
will be two years – this is a fast track project, [Sokha Group] would like to
move forward quickly," John Hamilton, vice president of Arnold Palmer
Design Company, told the Post on June 9.
The aim is to create a "world class golf
experience" amid the jungles of Bokor
Mountain, preserving as much as
possible the topography and minimizing environmental impact to the area, Hamilton said.
The courses will be Cambodia's
fifth and sixth sets of luxury links, and will sit at the foot of BokorMountain,
in Kampot province.
The Kingdom is keen to take advantage of the golf mania that
has recently swept Southeast Asia, which has
been cashing in on a worldwide golf tourism boom that last year was valued at
About 50 million golfers are estimated to roam the world on
an annual odyssey to find new, relatively undiscovered greens, and Cambodia looks
set to capture a good chunk of this market over the coming decade.
Sokha Hotels are a key player in Cambodia's booming tourism
industry. The Bokor
Mountain redevelopment is
the group's most ambitious project to date. The project will seek to transform
the crumbling, fog-swept ruins at the mountain's top into a modern luxury
The group is also inaugurating construction of a 500-room
hotel on the Chroy Changva peninsula in Phnom
Penh in July this year.
"Tourism is the number one priority sector for the
future and a major sector for investment," Sok Kong, founder and owner of
Sokimex, Sokha Group's parent company, told the Post in an interview on June 9.
"The company's focus is shifting to tourism, and we
have already signed an agreement on the design of the golf course on BokorMountain,"
Sok Kong said.
Palmer, 78, is one of golf's legends. He has won seven major
championships over the course of his career, which began in the 1950s.
He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
His design company has crafted 300 golf courses to date, according to the
company’s website. The company prides itself on being in tune with the