Cambodia Joins Golfing Bandwagon

Once the “killing fields” of Southeast Asia, it is now an economy eager to tap the tourist dollar via its most famous landmark, the ancient temples at Angkor Wat.

Cambodia is using golf to lure visitors to the former war-torn country, with the latest course built near the famous temples in Siem Reap.

The country is hailing the 308-acre Phokeethra Country Club as the only international-standard golf course in the country and, indeed, it faces a stern test of its credibility with the Johnnie Walker-sponsored Cambodia Open this week.

The tournament makes its debut on the Asian Tour in 2007, offering US$300,000 in prize money.

The 18-hole, par-72 course, which cost $10 million to build, is one of three in Cambodia, two of them near the nation’s capital of Phnom Penh. Another course is also under construction outside Siem Reap, located in the northwest of the country.

The 7,145-yard course features a lot of water with only one hole free of the hazard. The 18th hole provides a spectacular finish requiring golfers to hit the ball on to an island green.

Players can also cross a replica Roluh Bridge when moving on to the 10th hole to start their back nine from the ninth.

In terms of facilities, the environment is very different to what most Cambodians are used to. The clubs provides a luxurious setting to cater to the standards expected by golfing tourists.

According to the Asian Tour, the resort was declared as the Top Investment by TTG Magazine and has made it into the “gold list” of the world’s top 700 hotels, resorts and cruise lines by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.

The golfing action started on Thursday with Australian Adam Groom and American Bryan Saltus sharing the half-way lead on 133.

Groom fired a second-round of four-under-par 68 whille Saltus hit 67. The duo were three strokes ahead of a trio of goflers comprising American Anthony Kang, Scotland’s Simon Dunn and Englishman Ben St John.

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