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Walker looks to get Black Mountain up and running

I was hearing bits and pieces about a super new course being built in Hua Hin and decided to have a chat with its director of golf Kenny Walker.

He is the man with the responsibility of making sure that the beautiful course is ready for action on its opening day.

Golfers in the know will have undoubtedly heard of Walker's name and it's logical that a man with his golfing experience and knowledge would be at the helm of such a wonderful project.

He arrived in Thailand with good friend, and respected fellow professional, Simon Yates on holiday 12 years ago and has stayed here since.

Walker joined the "Omega Tour' which paved the way for the Asian Tour and played in those fledgling tournament around Asia before taking on an administration role to help in the shaping of the new Asian Tour.

All the time he used Hua Hin as his base.

Scotland is not renowned for its high temperatures and the weather here is one of the main reasons that this Scotsman will not be heading home any day soon.

Walker won junior, boys and senior Scottish amateur titles together with the Doug Sanders world junior championship before becoming a PGA professional when he was 20.

He qualified and played in the British Open in 1992 and 94, which was no mean achievement.

He recalled a match with Jose Maria Olazabal and how he came away from the encounter rather bruised but extremely impressed with the young Spaniard.

Black Mountain golf club is the dream of a forward-thinking Swedish businessman who fell in love with this intoxicating game and decided to build something very special.

Walker said construction started only 14 months ago, and the weather had played a big part in the pace of the project.

"We have been extremely lucky in this regard," he said.

"Membership of this superb project just 10km from the town centre is thrown in if you purchase any of the tasteful property which is on offer around the course, or just pay a green fee which is set now at a special introductory price of 2,000 baht until October.

"Rumours that the fees were going to be extremely high are unfounded and from October onwards the cost of playing this great course will increase sufficiently to place it in the same league of our other well-known Thai premier courses.

"Exclusivity is where this course will be bracketed and golfers must ask themselves if they want to be treated just as another number heading to the crowded first tee or treated as a valued customer.

"There will be ample tee times slots with nobody breathing down your neck waiting for you to hit your next shot."

The course is uniquely grassed and set at the foot of the mountain.

This majestic course flows in every direction and Australian architect Phil Ryan has crafted a masterpiece which is destined to be the venue of many of Thailand's coveted tournaments.

Gavan Wilson is well known within Thai golfing circles as arguably the country's best greenkeeper and this jewel of a golf course is perfectly safe in his hands.

Talking to Walker one gets that sense that the man has seen enough to know that he's in charge of something very special.

His average day is now filled with the many jobs which must be done before opening day.

"Buying mops and vacuum cleaners for the cleaning staff is just part of my day's work," he said.

"It's now time to get down to the details and fine-tune before opening.

"I start at 6.30 am most days and work through to 7.30pm, but try to steal a little time for myself in the early morning to hit a few balls."

Obviously, with the Swedish connection marketing will be aimed in the direction of Scandinavia and any European country whose keen golfers wish for a sunny climate during their harsh winters.

Swedish food and beverage manager Anders Hagstedt will ensure that the kitchen will be renowned for its delicious assortment of European and Thai dishes.

The completion of the PGA Golf Academy headed by charismatic Swedish PGA professional Jorgen Persson by July will ensure the finest practice facilities and service for any golfer regardless of his or her ability.

There are very few golfing foreigners who have invested like this gentleman from Sweden and its refreshing to see this project take shape.

"Black Mountain will be one of the leading Asian courses in the very near future," said Walker.

"We have a job-and a-half on our hands but the end product will be worth it for everyone." Bangkok Post

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