It’s one of those pleasant mornings, sitting in a row of chairs overlooking the driving range at the newly-opened Palace Golf Academy, shooting the breeze with golf consultant and teacher David Maxwell, who, in between breeze shooting, is giving tips to a young Phnom Penh woman intent on improving her driving skills to become one of Cambodia’s small but growing contingent of women golfers.
It’s early days yet at the academy, with the landscaping not yet fully complete, but it’s easy to sense that a laid-back and genteel country club atmosphere will make this a perfect afternoon or evening hangout for Siem Reap’s executive set intent on improving their golf game in a relaxed and casual manner.
Indeed, the notion of a club-like chill-out centre is certainly appealing to Maxwell who waxes enthusiastically about the academy’s potential to improve social life as well as hone golf skills.
The Palace Golf Academy officially opened on Saturday, September 14, and the opening day had a successful and busy buzz.
The academy nestles in the grounds of the Grand Soluxe Angkor Palace Resort and Spa which is owned by Ly Hong, an architect who is also a leading Cambodian amateur golfer – last month he easily won the Angkor Amateur Open at the Angkor Golf Resort, and he represented Cambodia the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.
Ly Hong is obviously a rich man, yet in 2010 he told the Post he was concerned that Cambodian golf courses are too expensive for amateurs to practice on. This concern is perhaps reflected in the pricing at the new golfing academy –memberships start from $100 a month, with special deals available until October 31.
Grand Soluxe Angkor Palace Resort manager Lawrence Oh said the academy cost $180,000 to develop, and explained that the focus is on accuracy rather than “distance hitting.”
Lawrence Oh happily checked off the academy’s many features: a resort ambience, a putting green with a bunker green, a 150-yard driving range with 24 playing bays on two levels – a downstairs and an upstairs row of bays as such, a café, a foot reflexology service, golf bag storage, and easy parking.
He points out that the academy is the only golf venue in town that allows for night play which, he says, “Is excellent for the working executive.”