Derek Schade returns to Chiang Mai Highlands as General Manager

Bangkok, Thailand – 27 April 2015 – 

In 2001 Derek Schade, Canadian PGA professional, came to Thailand while working for a management company that was operating Muang Kaew.  During that time the organisation renovated the clubhouse and Schmidt-Curley redesigned the golf course.  After three years the Muang Kaew owners ended the agreement with the management company but asked Derek to stay on the staff.

A couple of years later the owners of Muang Kaew, principally Khun Vichai, decided they would build a golf course in Chiang Mai and when he moved north Derek accompanied him to help get the course started.  This was a terrific experience but much more work than he ever imagined.

Near the end of construction they began to assemble a service team including operations staff and caddies.  This was extremely difficult since the locals had little or no golf experience. Derek’s duty was to train staff on the intricacies of service delivery and practical skills of caddying; distance advice, club selection and reading greens plus general course knowledge. He was greatly aided by his ability to speak fluent Thai.

Notwithstanding the challenges, this was a very rewarding experience from two perspectives: the golf course turned out beautifully and they established a very close relationship with the local community.  Chiang Mai Highland’s reputation as a great design grew quickly, to the extent that it was soon recognised as one of the best new courses in Asia and soon won awards for Best Value Golf Experience.

Khun Vichai was the driving force behind the project and primary visionary. However, he consulted Derek frequently, trusting his judgement and inputs such that their friendship grew.  This made it very difficult to leave when in 2011 he was offered a new challenge as General Manager of Lotus Valley, north of Bangkok.

Derek’s tenure at Lotus Valley was equally successful but recent events made for another change.  Primarily, he and his wife (who is from Chiang Mai) learnt they were expecting a baby so naturally she wanted to be close to family, plus the owners of Chiang Mai Highlands approached him with a significant offer to return to the organisation as GM.  Thus for family reasons and the opportunity to reunite with Khun Vichai, Derek decided to accept their offer.

“I have a real passion for that place and enjoy my relationship with Khun Vichai.  We had a pretty emotional meeting in Chiang Mai to discuss the role and his plans for the future, particularly with the new nine holes currently being built. I guess there’s an element that this is the return of the prodigal son.”


Pascal Orczech