Members of the new Ban Rakat Club, home to the Gil Hanse-designed Ballyshear Links, endured an exquisite form of torture during the month of August. Their new 18-hole course, an anticipated project in a decade, was entirely ready to play. But Covid-19 restrictions issued by the Thai government on Aug. 1 kept the members from playing Hanse’s stunning homage to the most famous “lost course” in golf history
.This fraught anticipation came to an end here Sept. 3, when restrictions were lifted and members were free to enjoy the Ballyshear Links at Ban Rakat Club, in all its considerable glory.
The new clubhouse, designed by the world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma & Associates, remains on schedule to open in December, according to Takeyasu Aiyama, Chairman of Yokohama International, Ltd. A formal grand opening has been scheduled for early 2022.
«We owe a great debt of gratitude to the members of Ban Rakat Club for their patience», Aiyama says.
The founding members of Ban Rakat Club were all members at Kiarti Thanee Country Club, a private club with an ordinary, somewhat tired, 25-year-old golf course 35 minutes from centre city and 20 minutes from Suvarnhabumi International Airport. In 2017, these members approached Yokoha.
«They sought to bring something completely new to the marketplace,» Aiyama says.
Hiring the team at Hanse Golf Design was Step 1. Gil Hanse is, the man chosen to renovate three of four U.S. Open venues on the trot: Winged Foot for the 2020 championship, The Country Club for 2022, and Los Angeles CC for 2023.
More than 160 Kiarti Thanee members are partners in this new venture, having transferred their memberships to Ban Rakat Club.
«Gil Hanse has created for Ban Rakat Club a vintage-style course that all the members, and their guests, will love,» Aiyama says.
«We are certain of that. What’s more, because we are the first to leverage this particular style of golf course here in Thailand, Ballyshear will stand out as utterly unique in this market. In our experience, that type of differentiation is rarely a bad thing.»
The new clubhouse at Ban Rakat Club represents another audacious departure. Kuma’s reputation and signature work are high profile, his portfolio includes the new Japanese National Stadium in Tokyo.
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