Harper heads for Thailand in search of Tour triumphs

LEE HARPER, the former Scottish Boys’ champion from Musselburgh, is off to Thailand after being driven mad in his bid to taste success as a Tour professional.

The 30-year-old has tried his luck on the Tartan Tour, EuroPro Tour and Asian Tour since joining the paid ranks but has decided it’s time for a change of direction in his career. He’s landed a job as a teaching professional at the world’s largest indoor golf performance centre in Bangkok and heads out there early next month to get started.

“After missing out at the Asian Tour Q-School in January, I thought it was time to go down a different road and freshen things up,” said Harper. “I was getting a bit fed up of driving up and down the M6 playing on the EuroPro Tour. I was not contending for one of the top-five spots at the end of each year and I started not enjoying it.”

Harper is delighted to have been able to retain an attachment with Archerfield Links, where he has played out of over the past few years.

But his new base will be the Thonglor 18 centre, a massive complex in the Thai capital which boasts 20 swing bays, two putting greens, two chipping greens and an indoor sand bunker.

“I spoke with Shane Wilding, who founded ‘Wilding Golf’ in Bangkok and he offered me a teaching position,” added Harper. “It is the biggest and busiest of five centres which are all located in the main areas of Bangkok. “I will be teaching indoors using state-of-the-art software and driving range simulators. I will also do playing lessons at some of the local clubs with Wilding members.

“I will be mostly teaching Japanese, Thais and ex-pats. I’m looking forward to the new challenge and cultures.”

Harper succeeded Steven O’Hara, now a European Tour player, when he lifted the Scottish Boys’ title at West Kilbride in 1999. “I’m not hanging up my boots,” he insisted. “I plan on playing the Asian Development Tour, which I am fully exempt for. I also aim to play on the Singha, and Thai PGA Tours. Hopefully new challenges, courses, cultures and competition will rekindle my love for the game.

“Archerfield Links have been fantastic to me over the years. They are continuing my attachment with the club, so hopefully I can spread the word in the Far East about the ever-growing five-star complex on the east coast.”