GOLF: THE FUTURE IS EASTMay 25, 2018
In the past decade, golf has been losing popularity in the region where the game was born. 2016 made the decline of golf in the West an official matter of business. In the spring, global powerhouse Adidas announced it was selling off large parts of its golf division, including Taylor Made, the famous equipment golf company it had purchased in 1997. Nike, the sponsor of superstar Tiger Woods, sent ripples through the industry not long later, announcing that was abandoning all production of golf equipment. Both decisions were based on the slumping numbers of golf enthusiasts in the West. The drop in numbers fell off harshly with the economic downturn of 2008, and never recovered. Beyond the money involved in memberships and equipment, the pressure of a challenging job market is leaving people with less time to perfect or even play the game. For the remaining golf lovers, slumping numbers and dwindling interest don't add up to an inspiring landscape.
But all of that changes in South East Asia.
Golf on this side of the planet is a growing and popular game. The sport that was once viewed as a hobby for the regions' elite has grown in popularity with the emerging middle class. Excited to embrace both the enjoyment the game offers and the status it bestows on those who play it, golf courses throughout South East Asia are filling up with players both young and old. Inspired by the rising tide of professionals from the region-- including Thai stars like Kiradech Aphibarnrat and the legendary Thongchai Jaidee, as well as Filipino Miguel Tabuena and Malaysia's Danny Chia-- people are embracing the game with a passion that is both invigorating and inspiring.
Players from the West who visit notice the energy and vibrancy immediately. At home in the US and Europe, the game is played at struggling old courses fighting to boost their numbers. A sharp decline in younger players projects a bleak outlook, as less of them join courses where membership is aging and fading. The contrast in Asia is sharp. With interest in the game and club membership levels on an upturn, youthful energy and excitement surrounds the sport. That's not likely to change, as growth projections for the game all focus on the Asian region. Sansara residents who tee up at the nearby Black Mountain will benefit from playing in a place where love for the game is growing every day. That energy and excitement will be a great boost to motivation and enjoyment.
Beyond the passion of golf's rising market is the breathtaking natural setting. Black Mountain is set in a breathtaking mountain valley region, filled with sparkling waterways. Routinely topping lists for best course in Asia, it was also recently voted as one of the top 100 golf courses outside the US. Any player based at Sansara retirement community also benefits from proximity to “dream destination” courses throughout Thailand. Phuket offers the Blue Canyon Country Club, as well as Red Mountain-- a spectacularly challenging course of various elevation built on a former tin mine. In Northern Thailand, players can test their game and enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery of Chang Mai's Changmai Highlands Club, as well as nearby Chang Rai's Santiburi Country Club. Course architect Jack Nicklaus created the celebrated Laem Chabang International Country Club, a lush, beautiful set of links just a four hour road trip from Hua Hin. But these are just a few of the hundreds of courses set throughout Thailand. More exotic golf adventures can be found by quick plane trips to neighboring countries. The boom of golf's popularity in the region has resulted in both established and newly blooming courses to explore in Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, not to mention Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
Enjoying a new lease on their old favorite game is just one more reason why retiring in Hua Hin is an unbeatable location for any golfer or golf fan.