Today’s posting about the Thailand golf courses that have been designed by the world’s best golf course architects features another lesser known name, Ronald Fream. But it is also about the rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of one of Thailand’s most prolific entrepreneurs, “Mr Panya” and the partnership between himself and Fream.
Ronald Fream, the founder of Golfplan, began his golf course architecture career in 1966 with Robert Trent Jones. The Golfplan team has provided golf course architectural services on six continents, under almost every imaginable climate, from the Arctic Circle in Finland to the tropical heat of Singapore and of course, Thailand.
This is Fream’s philosophy, which sums up what golf course design should be all about: “The art of excellent golf course architecture is creating, designing and building unique courses within a client’s specified budget, enabling the client to make a profitable return on their investment.”
Mr. Panya Kuantrakul, President of Panya Group, believes that golf is a perfect metaphor for the struggles in life. Here is his philosophy of life and golf: “Golf is a game for those who play with their hearts and minds. To succeed in this game, you must work hard to play well, learn the skills of the game, and understand the fairway. The fairway, like life, requires examination and consideration to determine the best way to achieve your goals, to win”.
From an early age, Khun Panya’s life’s dream had been to succeed in his own business. He began with a limited education at the age of 15 and was able to establish his first business selling flavored syrup. From these very simple beginnings, Panya laid the foundations of his involvement in the real estate industry.
His first investment was the purchase of a tiny piece of land. Panya continued to purchase land and twenty years later began his first commercial project, the Moo Ban Panya Housing Estate, which became the first “millionaire’s village” in Thailand. Panya’s confidence in his real estate ventures and love of golf inspired him to develop international standard golf courses in Thailand.
In 1993, Panya commissioned Ronald Fream to design the 3 golf courses that, at that time, formed the Panya Golf Empire. These were Panya Indra Golf Club, Panya Park Golf Club, and Panya Natural Hill Golf Club. The first two were in Bangkok, while the later one was near Pattaya. By 1997 due in part to the Asian Economic Crisis, Panya, as well as many other Thai businessmen here, went bankrupt and had to sell 2 of the three courses, leaving only the original Panya Indra with his namesake.
In my next post I will review the fate and current conditions of each of the original 3 Panya golf courses in Thailand designed by Ronald Fream.