Laguna Phuket, the Thailand tourist island’s only fully integrated resort, has revealed plans for the upcoming Singha Laguna Phuket Open to become, eventually, as internationally well-known and inclusive as its acclaimed annual triathlon and marathon events.
Although only in its second iteration this year, the All Thailand Golf Tour event – to be held from May 10-13 – is guaranteed a wide following in Thailand and South East Asia through television coverage.
But Laguna Phuket’s managing director, Ravi Chandran, and assistant vice president and director of golf, Paul Wilson, have bigger long-range plans. In particular, they want to develop the professional tournament into a week-long celebration of golf that involves amateur players of all levels and abilities.
This will mean extending the current program of a pro-am on the Wednesday before the tournament and a “play like the pros” round on the day after its conclusion to a range of individual and team golf events for amateurs, spread over a week.
“The Laguna Phuket triathlon, which this year celebrated 25 years, and the marathon, being held in June for the 13th year, are highly-recognised events that attract thousands of participants and spectators from around the world,” Ravi Chandran explains.
“They have helped make Phuket an international sporting hub, with Laguna Phuket as the centrepiece. We believe the Singha Laguna Phuket Open can become equally well-known among golfers and be the third mantle in the island’s and resort’s sporting calendar.
“Many people remember the 2009 Thailand Open held at Laguna Phuket. Last year we successfully recaptured the interest from that event and this year, as Phuket’s only professional golf tournament, we aim to build on it further. The relationship with Singha as joint title sponsor is an excellent fit and we hope this also extends long into the future.”
Paul Wilson says the golf tournament can be expanded in coming years to include individual amateur and team events, similar to those organised around the triathlon and marathon.
“There are numerous short-distance, team and other activities associated with the triathlon and marathon,” he explains. “The full distance of both events attracts elite contestants and serious competitors from all over the world. But there are other shorter and less intense variations for people of all ages and abilities and we believe the golf tournament can be extended in a similar way.”
He says last year’s tournament resulted in increased tee-time bookings among locals and golfers from Thailand and the region and he expects the 2018 event will produce a similar uplift.
“The professional tournament is definitely raising our profile,” he adds. “We believe we can capitalise on this growing interest in many ways, both around the time of the event and at other times during the year.”
The 2018 Singha Laguna Phuket Open, with a THB2 million prize pool, will have a full field of 156 qualified professional and amateur male participants. As a joint-sanctioned Asian Development Tour event, it provides a pathway for aspiring golfers to develop their careers regionally and internationally.