Taking Flight

Published on April 17, 2024

Dili Sitanonth’s journey took her from Thailand, to Scotland, to Eastern Kentucky University, where she is thriving on the golf course and in EKU’s renowned aviation program. 

Sitanonth grew up in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. As a kid, she dabbled in ballet and piano, but soon discovered that her real passion was golf.

Sitanonth started playing golf at four years old, and 10 years later, had earned a scholarship to Loretto School—a prestigious boarding school with a world-class golf academy, located in Musselburgh, Scotland.

At age 14, Sitanonth left her family and flew 6,000 miles across the globe to Loretto. There, she refined her skills.

In 2021, Sitanonth moved to America to attend college and play golf at Texas Southern University, in Houston. After back-to-back first team All-SWAC seasons, she decided to bring her talents to Richmond, Kentucky.

Sitanonth was drawn to Eastern Kentucky University for two reasons—the women’s golf team, led by head coach Mandy Moore, and the renowned aviation program, the only program of its kind in Kentucky. 

She found a family in her golf teammates and coaches.

“This is the best team I’ve been on in my life,” Sitanonth said. “I feel a great bond between my teammates and coaches. We’re like a family, and that’s the best thing.”

She found her future in the aviation program.

“My parents wanted me to be an Ambassador, but I didn’t want to sit in an office all day and do paperwork,” she said.

Enter the aerospace industry.

“I was drawn to it because it’s something not a lot of people can do,” Sitanonth said of being a pilot. “And once I get up in the sky … I love the views.”

EKU’s innovative aviation program is providing the foundation for Sitanonth to reach her professional goal of becoming an airline pilot.

“All of the professors and the instructors here, they take good care of you and they really push you,” she said. “I’ve made lots of great friends in the aviation program. They’re very helpful and very kind. My instructor is tough on me, but that’s a good thing, because she wants me to be a good pilot in the future.”

When she’s not logging flight hours, Sitanonth is a key contributor on the golf team. She owns a 75.56 stroke average this season. In February, Sitanonth notably finished tied for 14th at the Columbia Classic in Melbourne, Florida, firing a 74 (+2) on all three days of the tournament. She was the Colonels’ top performer at the event.

The success is a product of her love for the game.

“It’s like being in another world when I’m on a golf course,” Sitanonth said. “I have a competitive feeling, but also a joyful moment. It’s great to be able to play with other great players and get to know new people.”

Moore said, “I’ve been so happy with how she’s fit in with the team. Not only has she brought some good golf, she’s just a great person and a great student.”

Moore also praised Sitanonth’s attitude and coachability.

“I don’t know if we’ve had a more self-sufficient and independent person on our team,” she said. “Dili just gets stuff done. She’s super thankful for the opportunity. She doesn’t leave a practice without thanking me and (assistant coach) Evan (Cox) … just for practice.”

“For me as a coach, it’s important to have people from different backgrounds on our team, because I think they can all learn a little something from each other. Not only is Dili learning our culture, but we’re learning from her too,” Moore added.

Sitanonth and her teammates competed at the ASUN Conference Championship April 14-16 in Huntsville, Alabama.