Stonehill: A gem of a course waiting to be unveiled
I felt privileged looking at Thailand's newest golf course when I was granted a visit to Stonehill which will be unveiled to the world for all to see this week when it hosts the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok from Friday to Sunday.
Those perhaps better qualified then I will be offering up their thoughts and tuppence worth about the course, and this I carefully considered before offering up my humble opinion on Stonehill.
My career in golf has taken me around the world that led to invitations to coach in 10 different countries.
My opinion on the Pathum Thani course, just outside Bangkok, comes from these experiences and overall perspective of a senior (old) PGA professional whose eyes have seen many of the best places to swing a golf club.
Therefore, I can say, without hesitation, that Stonehill is head and shoulders above them all.
Not unlike listening to Gheorghe Zamfir playing The Lonely Shepherd, the feeling of utter perfection overcomes you when you begin to take in Stonehill's gorgeous course and clubhouse.
I'm trying to avoid the often-written cliches that seem to be unavoidable in golf course reviews but would rather just say, please visit the course for yourselves.
It will then be instantly clearly obvious to any knowledgeable golfer that the owner is a well-travelled golf connoisseur who fully understands golf's traditions.
I know that he can personally play to a very high standard and his course reflects this as its quality has very little competition.
Undoubtedly, this gorgeous Gainsborough that Thailand now possesses will swiftly command the distinction of being arguably the best in Asia.
Several years ago, I went through the educational experience of the remodelling of Wentworth, which was enlightening and where I learnt much. Yet, Stonehill is at another level.
I marvelled at how the four grasses -- Zeon for the fairways, Trinity (approaches), TifEagle (greens) and Bahia (rough areas) -- all combine and intertwine so beautifully together for the carpeting of Stonehill.
The efficient drainage system built under this course sets the bar of quality for any new future golf course project.
The bunker detailing and tree planting must be seen to be believed, together with the crafted cart paths which connect the par-3, 4 and 5s that cleverly get tougher as one gets closer to the clubhouse.
Those involved with the establishment and running of Stonehill possess class and exude experience in their individual specialist fields, from the club's directors and management team to those involved in course maintenance.
Spread over 950 rai, the course is owned by Gulf Energy Development CEO Sarath Ratanavadi, one of Thailand's richest men.
It was created by course designer Kyle Phillips and architect Timothy Slattery of Hart Howerton.
It will be inevitable that Stonehill will be seen as a benchmark to try to emulate, and it's a foregone conclusion that all those associated with the architecture and the actual building of Stonehill will receive countless accolades in the months and years to come.
Obtaining the land for this new golfing creation, so close to expressway options, was a carefully considered and canny move by the owner, as the course can be reached quickly and easily from the capital city centre.
This travel convenience has been often overlooked in the past, especially when big tournaments are planned.
Membership at Stonehill will be sought after and rightly so. It will be seen as extremely prestigious to hold the ultimate membership status.