The Golf Academy at British International School, Phuket (BISP) is hardly five years old—practically in its infancy—yet you wouldn’t think it by looking at their impressive statistics and international tournament victories. Two talented young golfers who are contributing to those impressive records are Pasoot Luengcharoenwatana (I.T) and Namo Luangnitikul, both 12-year-old native Phuketians and golf stars who regularly play on local and international golf circuits. Other than their golfing chops, the two also share the same spirit of gratitude and fondness for their “Coach Ollie”, aka BISP Golf Academy Head Coach Oliver Bates, who speaks just as highly of them.
Golfing is a family affair for both youngsters. I.T was encouraged from a young age to follow his father’s example, who is a keen golfer and has since guided his son through dozens of tournaments and victories. For Namo, older cousin and BISP alumni Vanchai (Mark) Luangnitikul has always been her inspiration, followed by Thai golfing star Atthaya Thitikul. Incidentally, Vanchai and Atthaya partnered up to bring golfing gold home for Thailand at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games held in Buenos Aires.
“Namo and I.T are great examples of the type of the high performing student-athletes we are developing at the BISP Golf Academy,” says BISP Athletics Director Jeff LaMantia. “The aim of our Golf Academy is to provide our students with unparalleled opportunities to develop their golfing abilities to their highest potential while receiving an outstanding education. I would love to see one of our current primary students achieve their goal of playing golf at the college level or professionally.”
Both Namo and I.T talk about the dedication and time golf requires and practise six days a week. On most days they spend three to four hours on the green, well into the evening until about 7pm. It comes as no surprise, then, that they have been ranked top in Thailand for their age groups at one point or another and that they both qualified for the IMG Junior World Championships in San Diego this July.
I.T placed highly in the tournament and also bagged third place at the 13th Annual FCG Callaway World Junior Golf Championship in Southern California. FCG is a recruitment ground for junior golfers looking to develop their game and play at the Collegiate Level in the USA. I.T ultimately hopes to be ranked in the PGA, but entertains dreams of being a future pilot as well.
Namo, who qualified for the IMG by winning the TGA-Singha Junior Golf Championship in March this year, couldn’t make it to San Diego due to the pandemic. That hasn’t stopped her from playing and winning tournaments within Thailand, including the TJDT Tour Final Master Championship held in Pathumthani earlier this year. Ever the optimist, Namo is looking forward to qualifying for future tournaments, and hopes to make it to the Thai National Team this year, despite being younger than the minimum threshold age of 13. Just like her cousin Vanchai, she ultimately hopes to win gold at the Youth Olympic Games and be ranked in the PGA.