Bob Chiplock made a mistake in October 2019 that he does not regret. He told his daughter, Tianna, if she won a golf tournament in her first year of competition, he and his wife, Orakunya, would buy her a puppy. Tianna had never been in a tense environment with titles or furry pets on the line. She would be competing against older, more experienced girls. Tianna was just eight years old.

“I thought we had at least two years before she’d be anywhere near a leaderboard,” Bob says. Let’s just say a toy poodle named Cooper joined the Chiplock family before Christmas that year.

Since then, Tianna has become a bit of a celebrity at Reynolds. All the golf pros and starters know her well. But she still takes Members by surprise.

“The adults sometimes have no idea what she’s capable of doing,” says Bob, who is usually content to caddie for his daughter and wife. “The ladies see this polite 12-year-old girl joining their foursome and say, ‘You go ahead and hit first, sweetheart.’ Then she swings and it’s … wow.”

Tianna learned the game from Reynolds, but not at Reynolds. Explanation: The Chiplocks were living in Thailand. Bob had family members at Reynolds. During Skype calls, 2-year-old Tianna would be riveted to what she saw on the screen: her cousin’s shiny golf clubs, her pretty clothes and, in the background, little white holes on brilliant greens.

The scene mesmerized Orakunya, too.

When Bob’s work as a pilot finally allowed the three of them to move to the U.S., they decided to settle at the same faraway fantasy world they’d seen on the Skype calls: Reynolds. Every evening, after everyone had played through, Tianna would go with her cousin to the 8th green at The Landing and practice putting. She took her first lessons after turning five. Orakunya would join her daughter at the ranges and on the courses.

“As much as Tianna loves golf,” Bob says, “being on the course means more to my wife than to anyone.”

The Chiplock Family on the course at Reynolds Lake Oconee.
The Chiplock Family on the course at Reynolds Lake Oconee.

When you hear Orakunya’s story, you’ll understand why.

Orakunya’s swing is long and smooth. “She didn’t play a lot of sports when she was younger, but she has an innate ability to pick up the game,” says Ryan Rios, Lead Golf Instructor of Member Development. “Her focus is amazing, which comes from her culture and humble beginnings — and that whole situation is incredible, too.”

Ryan calls Orakunya “Ice.” Everyone has called her Ice since she can remember.

“It’s very common in Thailand to have nicknames that Americans find amusing,” says Orakunya … Ice. “You hear a lot of people using names like Ice or Beer.”

She refers to herself as “a little girl from the countryside of Thailand.” Bob says his wife never really had a childhood the way we know childhoods in the U.S. He spent his own youth climbing trees and riding bikes in the northeast — the kinds of summers they make movies about. Ice lived out a very different script. Bob is straight to the point: “I’ve never met anyone who grew up poorer than my wife. Her family slept on dirt floors. They each had one set of clothes. She didn’t taste ice cream until she was in her 20s. Sports and music were out of the question.”

After she grew up and landed a good job in Bangkok, Ice would send most of each paycheck home to her parents, or to orphanages. She still does that with profits from the Thai restaurant she and Bob opened in Greensboro, Lamai Ban Thai Kitchen. The food is the real deal and she makes plenty of it so her staff and their families are fed, if necessary.

“She defines the word ‘generous,’” Bob says, watching his wife line up an approach shot on the 17th fairway at The Oconee course. This is why the Chiplocks never take moments like these for granted. In fact, Ice hasn’t stopped smiling since she pulled her golf clubs out of the family SUV two hours ago.

Bob takes in a wide view of the green ahead and the footbridge behind it. His own perspective has been shaped by his wife’s everyday awe, which he sums up this way: “As a girl, the idea of visiting the U.S. was unthinkable for her. Living in the U.S. was thought to be impossible. And now, to play golf and live at Reynolds? It’s still hard for her to believe.”

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