“Nice and shy” are the characteristics of Hua Hin’s latest golfing protégé, 14 year-old Napabhach Boon-in, or Sandra as she is best known. That description was offered by her father Khun Paisarn or ‘Patrick’. What that does not reveal is the talent, determination and golfing potential of a predicted future star on Thailand’s lady’s golf scene. Sandra first came to my notice on the Springfield driving range at the opening of the Hua Hin and Cha-Am Golf Festival. Beautifully balanced, consistent and long straight driving was on display. I took a photo or two not knowing anything about this impressive young lady and too intimidated to ask; after all her average drives were around 220-230 yards! Then fortuitously meeting her parents a few weeks later gave me the opportunity to join the family and coach for a practice session at Royal Hua Hin. Apart from the Hua Hin Bakery, another family business came to light. The Thailand Golf and Leisure Co. (next door to the bakery) bring foreign golfers to play golf in our region; that explains a lot.
With golf being a passion of both parents (Mum is Khun Aree), the old adage; ‘the family that plays together stays together’ is their creed. Sandra was introduced to golf at age 8 and played in her first tournament two years later. Apparently there were some early tears but we all know golf can be a frustrating game. Sandra’s parents are not ‘pushy’ or ‘overbearing’, the relaxed style of family support is a big part of her success; they are also really ‘nice’ people! As a student at Hua Hin Wittayalai School, practice and coaching is everyday after school. Always Mum and/or Dad on hand, although this also gives Khun Patrick a great excuse to play a hole or three himself. He readily accepts his 15 handicap is no longer good enough to match his daughter’s ability. She’s playing off a TGA handicap of 6, and that’s from the men’s tee box! There’s a multitude of trophies and awards in the cabinet. Sandra has only just turned 14, so playing and winning in Thailand’s Junior League against 17 year olds suggests there will be many more before graduating to the adult level. However great stroke-making isn’t the only thing that makes a great golfer. Etiquette, modesty in victory or achievement, gracious acceptance when things don’t go so well and just old-fashioned manners are required. Grumpy old men aren’t much fun on the course!
Yes she’s shy, but that’s to be expected. Yes she’s nice, showing the personal qualities and social skills needed to be much more than just a good golfer.
Professional golfing success in on Sandra’s radar and she is confident of achieving that elusive zero handicap by age sixteen. Our money’s on these goals being met and best wishes for a very bright future at the very top of her game. Footnote: I couldn’t help but ask if the name ‘Sandra’ meant she was a specialist bunker player. Even the shortened version of Sandra – ‘Sandie’, as most golfers know, means out of the bunker and in the hole in two. The only answer ………………. GIGGLE! I also asked what the hardest thing in golf was for her. She couldn’t name anything, but her young practice partner (nicknamed ‘Thunder’) revealed all. “She thinks too much” was his considered assessment!