Harald Ellison is a proud, but busy man in his role as General Manager of Black Mountain Golf Club. Proud of what this prestigious Golf Club has achieved and busy because of the challenges of what’s to come next month and important course developments due to be completed towards the end of 2016.
Hua Hin Today was very recently able to talk to Harald about these happenings. He’s a modest and unassuming golf industry leader with a ‘can do’ approach who must be personally congratulated for the accolades and recognition of the course’s rightful position as the region’s prestigious ‘must play’ golf course. Our golfing readers will probably already be aware of the numerous awards made to Black Mountain since it’s opening in 2007 when Harald was appointed GM. It’s a list too long to describe and just a casual glance on the crowded wall behind the pro shop counter will be testament to these achievements. The most recent awards until just recently have been the Annual Asian Golf Awards 2015 being awarded a total of six Awards including Best Course in Asia Pacific for the second year running.
However Golf Digest has just released it’s assessment of the world’s top golf courses in 206 countries around the world. Another testament to the sport’s global popularity; we didn’t know that there are golf courses in places like Tajikistan or Angola! Of the 300 golf courses in Thailand listed, it should come of no surprise that Black Mountain has again topped the list and named as Thailand’s Greatest Course. Harald tells us that there are many independent and anonymous judges from all segments of the golfing industry, apart from individual golfers that submitted their assessments, so his pride in this achievement is understandable.
The next ‘about to happen’ is the 2016 True Thailand Classic scheduled for March 13-15. The US$2 million prize money is a European Tour has co-sanctioned an event with the Asian Tour. The tournament is also part of the prestigious Race to Dubai series, and an even stronger field than last year’s inaugural event is anticipated. Harald is eagerly awaiting details of the final field however he tell us that Australian Andrew Dodt will be there to defend his title.
2015 Winner – Andrew Dodt
Asian Tour’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Kerr had high praise for last year’s event. “The Black Mountain Golf Club is a wonderful host venue, having won numerous accolades.” Harald has added that the feedback from both players and spectators has been gratifying and whilst small improvements will certainly be made, he’s never satisfied. The event will continue to offer a fantastic opportunity to see the ‘best of the world’s best’, showing their skills in a real classic golfing test. The latest update and then report of proceedings will follow in our next editions.
Last but not least there is another nine holes now under construction, with the heavy machinery moving in just prior to our January 20th visit.
R.I.P Black Mountain Par 3 Work on the New Nine Holes Has begun A ‘bitter-sweet’ aspect of this major change is the sacrifice of the Par three course which is now closed. Although acknowledged by many, especially professional golfers, as an ideal way to tune up their short game and one of the best par three courses anywhere, this course may not have been played as often as deserved.
Harald says that both the length and style of the new nine holes will be similar to the current back nine and current standards maintained if not exceeded. The area approaching the club house may not look quite as scenic for the next months until the planned opening at the end of the year, but we anticipate a very rapid transition towards completion. Constant improvement and development are hallmarks of Black Mountain’s success. They don’t talk about it too much, it just gets done. We’ll have to wait and see what’s next after the new nine; it’s unlikely to be the final step in pursuit of golfing perfection.