First Regulation Course Opens in Cambodia

A small country with a dark past, Cambodia in Southeast Asia is being illuminated by its first PGA-standard golf course. The layout in Siem Reap is expected to attract much-needed tourist dollars to the impoverished country, a company official said Wednesday.

Designed by and named after British golfing legend Nick Faldo, the "Faldo Course" opened on December 22 at the Angkor Golf Resort. Its developers hope the course will boost Cambodia's economy by drawing well-heeled tourists, said Adam Robertson, operations manager. "By having an internationally acclaimed golf course in Siem Reap, we will now attract golf travelers, who generally have a large disposable income."

The 18-hole, 72-par track is located close to the famed Angkor Wat temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site that sits just outside the northeastern town of Siem Reap. The grand opening ceremonies were attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Tourism is one of the few sources of foreign exchange for Cambodia and the government is trying to woo tourists into venturing beyond the temple to other areas. Cambodia recorded about 1.7 million tourists in 2006. Officials hope further gains will inject new life into a country still recovering from decades of strife.