Only the best will do for the world’s top golfers – and you could say Mark Tupling has the hardest job on Earth.
Tupling is agronomy manager on Jumeirah Golf Estates and is tasked with ensuring that some 160 hectares of golfing goodness is fit for purpose all year round despite those unforgiving summer months.
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Q) With the DP World Tour Championship soon upon us, how far out do you start preparing for the tournament?
Mark Tupling: We start planning for next year the week of the previous event – so now we’re looking at 2018. All we can do now is get the green surfaces tournament-ready, but all the other work is just fine-tuning.
So now we’re looking at how we can make 2018’s tournament better.
That sounds intense. What are the key stages?
Firstly there’s a planning stage, where we review the tournament we’ve just done, then we can get into the spring time and I’m a facilitator for the department to make sure all the communication is being sent to the members about what we’ve got to do for the summer. We put all the right fertility products, plant protection, pesticides in place so when we do carry out our main work it’s smooth running.
How much water and manpower does it take?
We use about 10,000 cubic metres per 24 hours for the two golf courses. That irrigates not just the grass but the landscape, trees and shrubs like that. We have on the golf course 160 hectares of irrigated land. Top to bottom we have 73 staff to manage all that. Our busiest period for work is the summer when it’s the hottest and we have less working hours with the water restrictions that we have.
Just how hard is it to manage a golf course in the UAE?
The design dictates how intensive it is, not just the region. The other courses in the region are all intensively managed but especially Earth, we have 99 bunkers that are very steep-faced. To hand rake those bunkers we need eight to ten people on a daily basis, and then we’ve got all of the landscaped areas. So it’s a really intensive golf course that demands high maintenance.
What are the biggest problems that crop up?
Anything to do with irrigation! This year there have been city-wide restrictions in Dubai during July and August simply to do with residency levels. We’re using treated sewage effluent as our irrigation water and if there aren’t enough people living here to produce foul water, there isn’t enough irrigation water to going forward. That’s one issue we had this summer. Other than that if you have a pump station breakdown and don’t get water, you’re really on borrowed time.
What’s it like when it’s all over for another year?
It’s the week after that the staff goes into shock really – you’ve got the adrenaline of the tournament with the TV cameras on your course, and then you’re in on Monday morning again. You get the tournament blues for a bit!
The DP World Tour Championship is once more a free event to attract a crowd of both golf and non-golf fans. To register for Free Fast Track Entry, visit www.dpwtc.com.
Ghazi Aurangzeb is set to tee it up with the stars of the European Tour at this year’s DP World Tour Championship Rolex Pro-Am after being crowned the winner of the 2017 Luckiest Ball on Earth Series at the Grand Final held on Fire course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Sunday October 22.
After 22 events played across 21 golf clubs across the UAE with more than 1000 players taking part, Aurangzeb, who represented The Track, Meydan Golf, Dubai put on a fantastic performance to beat the 20 other Luckiest Ball on Earth Grand Final competitors with superb net Stableford score of 41 points.
The Rolex Pro-Am on Tuesday November 14 is the curtain raiser to the US$8 million DP World Tour Championship to be held on Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 16 November to Sunday November 19.
The hotly anticipated Rolex Pro-Am will be contested by 46 teams captained by European Tour professionals including the likes of Rafa Cabrera Bello, Justin Rose and defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“I’m lost for words and usually I’m full of them! It’s been a fantastic day here at Jumeirah Golf Estates and I got off to a great start and managed to ride my luck initially and then managed to hang in there for the win so I’m really excited and can’t wait to play in the Pro-Am,” said Aurangzeb.
“I entered the competition on a whim and now I’m the champion, I think it’s such a great series and in terms of being an amateur golfer I think this is as good as it gets.
“I’m happy to play with anyone of the pros as I never expected to be here a couple of hours ago when I was slaving away in the sun.”
Aurangzeb is also invited to the Championship Beach Party held at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm on November 14.
The Luckiest Ball on Earth Grand Final, sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation, saw players teeing off from the Signature Tees on Fire course and in the end it was Alberto Rubio of Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa who took the runner up position with 37 points while Elli Oschmann of Arabian Ranches Golf Club secured third place with 33 points.
The Luckiest Ball on Earth Series has proved to be a great success with the UAE’s amateur golfers since its launch in 2011. The competition has been held annually since then and open to all golfers aged 18 or over who hold an Official Club Handicap recognised by the EGF (maximum 28 for men and 36 for ladies).
Nick Tarratt, Director, European Tour International – Dubai Office said: “We have had 21 golf clubs represented from around the UAE and over 1000 golfers have competed in the qualifying rounds with the 21 winners coming here to compete on Fire course and in the end we have a great winner in Ghazi with 41 points and a happy bunch of other competitors, they can’t all be winners but arguably they are all winners to be here today.
“This is our sixth year of holding this initiative and our ninth year holding the DP World Tour Championship so it really activates the golfers in the community so that they are aware of the tournament, as there is quite a rotation of golfers in the country it gives everyone an opportunity to be part of the Luckiest Ball on Earth Series.”
There are just three weeks to go before the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s flagship events, lands on these shores.
As the Race to Dubai reaches its exciting conclusion Sport360° caught up with Nick Tarratt, director of the European Tour’s international office, to check in on preparations at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
How is the planning going for the 2017 DP World Tour Championship?
With just three weeks to go until the players arrive in Dubai all is taking shape.
This is the ninth time the tournament has taken place in the same venue at Jumeirah Golf Estates, but there are always new challenges every hour of every day.
We start planning more than 12 months out and it is very important that there are new features and activities every year – there is no room for complacency.
I have always felt the toughest time for planning is in March time prior to a tournament. It is too far away to get involved with the planning, sponsors have other priorities – but arguably too late to arrange the commercial aspects.
We are excited to announce a new sponsor this year in HERO, who are both a sponsor partner as well as sponsors of the HERO Challenge, that will involve a dedicated programme distributed around the world through TV and social media.
From day one we have tried to make this a genuine Dubai event, organised by Dubai in Dubai for Dubai, the UAE and the world.
The DP World Tour Championship is arguably one of the top 20 most important golf tournaments in the world – Dubai should be rightfully proud of this achievement.
How is the funding arranged for the tournament?
Being a Dubai event it receives tremendous support from Dubai entities, government and private organisations.
DP World are a great model. Through their title sponsorship of the DP World Tour Championship we are able to activate DP World/European Tour initiatives in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Turkey, China, Wentworth in England as well as the United States of America.
This is done through tournament partnerships, on-course banners, Pro-Am teams, player engagement and corporate hospitality. Emirates are a similar proposition.
How is the Race to Dubai being activated these days?
The Race to Dubai is the season long initiative on the European Tour International Schedule that involves 47 tournaments in 27 destinations. With the recent buy-in from government of Dubai entities we are very proud of the enhanced exposure of the Race to Dubai this season.
Activation has taken place at key tournaments hosted in key territories for Dubai, both business and for tourism, as well as, of course, high profile new presence at both the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the DP World Tour Championship.
This additional funding will see a genuine increase in revenues and a return on investment for the Race to Dubai.
How does the tournament benefit the host venue at Jumeirah Golf Estates?
The mantra for the European Tour is to play where the pros play so being the host for the DP World Tour Championship on Earth course will equate to a spike in interest in playing this course, having seen the world’s finest play, either in person or on TV.
In addition we have a long-term European Tour relationship with Jumeirah Golf Estates that is already 10 years old.
Real estate will, once again, be a focus for this year’s DP World Tour Championship with special promotions and offers available specifically throughout the tournament week at the Jumeirah Golf Estates exhibition facility in the Championship Village. Further announcements will be forthcoming in a couple of week’s time.
The DP World Tour Championship is once more a free entry event to attract a crowd of both golfers and non-golfers. To register for Free Fast Track Entry visit www.dpwtc.com.