The forthcoming MENA Golf Tour, boasting a combined prize fund of $ 225,000, tees off in September this year, and all the four events in the inaugural edition of the tour will be played in the UAE to begin with, it was announced on Saturday.
An initiative by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour seeks to create “new windows of playing opportunities” for all MENA (Middle East and North Africa) national professionals and amateurs which will not only hone their golfing skills, but will also enhance the overall development of golf in the region.
The first of the four-event series will be played from September 25 to 28 while the second and third event will be held from October 2 to 5 and October 9 to 12 respectively before the tour reaches its climax with the ‘Tour Championship’ to be held from October 16 to 19.
The venue for each event is being finalized and will be announced shortly, but the organizers of the MENA Golf Tour have confirmed that all the four tournaments will be played at different courses in the UAE.
The prize fund for the first three stops is $50,000 each while the grand finale will carry $75,000 in prize money for the professionals. The top three professionals and the leading amateur from the Order of Merit will receive special invitations to compete in the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, possibly, other European Tour events in the region.
Affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based at St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation, the tour is open to all MENA National and International Professional and Amateur golfers. The handicap limit for the amateur golfers is one and below on joining the tour as well as at the start of each tournament. 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).
“We are delighted to announced dates for the MENA Golf Tour events which will provide a much-needed springboard for both amateurs and professional to take their game to a new level,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of ‘golf in DUBAi, the promoters and organisers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters events.
“There is still a lot of room for the game to grow, particularly with golf being in the 2016 Olympics to drive interest. I see a very bright future for the game in the MENA region,” he said, adding: “To begin with we are hosting all the four events in the UAE due to logistical reasons, and with time we will expand the tournament base and travel to different countries in the region.
“At the moment, we are busy finalizing the venue for each event as different clubs in the UAE have offered to host the tournaments. We are grateful to the clubs for coming forward and supporting the tour, which will also help showcase years of investment in golf from the UAE government and private sector.”
“The MENA Golf Tour is funded by the Shaikah Maktoum Golf Foundation, but we hope that we will be able to find new sponsors as we go along. Also, one day we are hoping that the MENA Golf Tour can slot two events into the European Tour’s secondary Challenge Tour,” he added.