Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi will play host to the inaugural event while Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club will be the venue of the grand finale of the forthcoming MENA Golf Tour.
Featuring four back-to-back tournaments, the tour, which is a superb new initiative by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, will also make stops at Ras Al Khairmah’s Tower Links Golf Club and Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai for the second and third event, showcasing UAE’s commitment to golfing excellence.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, is flanked by Adrian Flaherty, the MENA Golf Tour Commissioner, Gary Constable of the Tower Links Golf Club, James Shippy of Al Badia Golf Club, and Peter Forrester of Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club at a Press conference held at the Emirates Golf Club today.
“I am delighted to announce that things are very much on course. We have finalized the dates and venues of all the four events on the tour which, I believe, will play a significant role in the development of the game among Arab nationals as well as expats,” Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, said at a Press conference held at the Emirates Golf Club on Wednesday.
“I am really grateful to all clubs in the UAE for whole-heartedly supporting this initiative. We are organising all the four tournaments in the UAE due to logistical reasons, but with time the tour will grow bigger in size and stature with the tournament schedule including different countries in the region,” he said.
Each tournament, he said, will receive official R&A recognition and carry World Amateur ranking points. “There will be a separate Order of Merit for Professionals and Amateurs. The top three professionals and the leading amateur from the Order of Merit will be invited to play in the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic,” he said.
“These are early days, but we are hoping that the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Golf Tour one day can slot a couple of events into the Challenge Tour. The European Tour chief George O’Grady has applauded this new initiative, saying it will provide the legacy for the game of golf. His support and that of others like golfing legend Mark O’Meara means a lot to us,” he added.
The Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club will set the tone for what promises to be an absorbing four weeks of golf when it welcomes the players on September 25 for the 72-hole stroke-play event to be played from the Championship tees.
As the Arabian Gulf’s first and only ocean course, it features several beach-front holes with spectacular views of the Gulf’s glittering, crystal blue waters. The home of the annual Saadiyat Beach Classic that attracts some of the world’s top golfers in a pro/celeb-am format is organically designed so that golfers don’t ever have to play the same hole twice.
After testing their skills at the demanding Saadiyat layout, the tee party will head to the East Coast for the second event to be played at the Tower Links Golf Club from October 2 to 5. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Hajar Mountains in Ras Al Khaimah, the course provides 18 holes of exquisite golf challenges and scenic beauty.
The players will wade into ‘rivers of sand’ when the tour travels to Dubai’s Al Badia Course from October 9 to 12. Designed on an oasis theme by renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones II, the course features abundant water and plants indigenous to the Arabian Gulf.
The ‘Garden City of the Gulf’ will provide the perfect setting for the fourth and final event, billed as the Tour Championship, at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club from October 16 to 19. Formerly known as the Palm Sports Golf Resort, the club is situated in UAE’s heritage heartland, and enjoys a stunning 18-hole course nestled in the shadow of the towering Jebel Hafeet heights.
With dates and venues for the inaugural MENA Golf Tour, which carries a total of prize fund of $225,000 now finalised, the organisers are channelising their energy towards assembling the best possible field for the tournaments.
Tournament entries open on July 1 and close two weeks before the start of first round of each event. The starting field for a tournament will comprise 100 players, including invited MENA members and host countries.
Of the 100 golfers, 60 per cent will be Professionals and the rest Amateurs. In the event of a tournament being oversubscribed, the first 90 (50 professionals and 40 amateurs) entries will automatically be accepted and the balance will compete in a pre-tournament qualifying event for the remaining 10 places (five professionals and five amateurs).