In this week's Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee discusses how building a school in his hometown has given him a renewed focus on the golf course.
My ultimate ambition is to create the best golf school in Thailand. Four years ago, I started to discuss with my wife building a school in my hometown. We were thinking about why there weren’t any programmes in Thailand that bring school education and golf together and that was where the idea began. About a year later we started to get serious about the plans, how the building would look, how everything would fit together.
It was an easy decision to build the school next to my house. If you want to build a school, you need to have a building and luckily, we have a lot of land, so once we decided that we were going to make the golf school a reality it made sense to me to do it on my own plot. The initial build took about 14 months, one building is open and we’re continuing construction on a second one.
We also have space to expand further, so there is still plenty of work ahead in the future. The school only opened two months ago, and it was exciting to welcome the first 300 kids, but we had such demand that we had to go back and double everything that we had already planned, and that obviously meant finding more teachers too!
Now the school is complete I can concentrate on my game again.The building and planning process turned into a massive project that ended up consuming a large part of our time. The school obviously has to meet all of the government standards, so that means a lot of meetings! It’s been a lot of hard work but definitely worth it. Now I can relax a little and focus on golf again. It’s no coincidence that my win at the GolfSixes came shortly after the school opened. I turn 50 in November so there is a lot of change happening for me at the moment, and it was good to get that win.
I’m very proud to be able to open a school in my hometown. We’re about two hours drive from Bangkok, it’s a good place to be, but there arecurrently not enough places locally for children to get a good education. It was important for both myself and my wife that we were able to create a school where the local children could study while also being introduced to the game of golf. The kids can follow a normal school programme and choose if they want to add golf to their studies. All the children at the school have the option to have golf tuition and use the training facilities, so hopefully the school can provide more opportunities, whether that’s academically or on the golf course.
At the moment we have 80 kids playing golf.About 20 are already at a good standard and the other 60 are just starting to play, so it’s very exciting to look forward and see how they can improve their golf game. We have built state-of-the-art practice facilities within the school and I’m looking forward to seeing how the children progress as we continue to develop our facilities. But, for the kids to get started they need to have good basics. That’s why whenever I come back home, we do a lot of work on making sure they are getting everything correct.
It’s important that the children can have someone to look up to. It will behard for the kids not to see me because I live so close by! I come back home as much as I can and I use the same practice area as the school children – I’m so close, I can walk to the school. When I’m home I’ll spend at least one day teaching at the school, maybe for two hours. We have an indoor lab with cameras, Trackman, and all sorts of technology. I think we have everything there that they need, it’s unbelievable to see it all coming together. Even though some of the children are only eight years old they are already eager to see how they can improve their games. If they are to achieve this, they need a role model, and this is where I can come in. We all know that golf is not easy, but I believe that with the right training and example, the kids can achieve their goals.
As for the future, I think one school is enough!If we continue to grow, we have enough land that we can construct another building. Eventually we are aiming to become Thailand’s best golf school, and I would like to work on some international connections and have an exchange programme for our pupils with others coming from overseas. It will be exciting to see what the next five or six years bring.