Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority lines up golf tourism drive

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Drawing the world to Abu Dhabi: The IDC line-up that will be pushing capital golf.

The diverse and world-class golf course portfolio of Abu Dhabi is set to be showcased to the world in a grand fashion as Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has lined up an ambitious golf tourism drive to strengthen the UAE capital’s standing as a world-class golfing destination.

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The new effort will target golf markets in Europe, China, India and across the GCC as well as across the UAE.

TCA Abu Dhabi is set to get into full swing through the establishment of a Industry Development Committee (IDC), supported by Abu Dhabi’s leading golf courses, tour operators, hoteliers and destination promotion agencies.

The focus of the marketing drive will be a new dedicated golf portal on visitabudhabi.ae, the official Abu Dhabi destination promotion website.

The portal will serve as a one-stop-shop to connect tourists with a range of golf holiday options and direct booking tools connected directly to the emirate’s golf industry professionals.

The IDC is also focused on facilitating networking opportunities for the leading golf courses and tour operators ahead of the build up to the busy winter season.

Sameer Taher Bagaber, IDC Golf Clubs Chairman and Section Manager, Strategy & Policy Department, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi is now perceived as one of the world’s foremost golf destinations, and through our ‘Golf In Abu Dhabi’ initiative, we have been able to attract visitors to the emirate to enjoy our golfing experience by growing awareness of the diversity of our courses.

“Our international golfing footprint is also widening and visitors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they research and book their stay.

So, by expanding the availability of golf information and direct booking access via the visitabudhabi.ae website represents a significant regional competitive advantage and broadens the opportunity to extend our golf tourism message to other regular website users.”

With over 4.5 million visits and over 100,000 active users of the associated mobile apps, visitabudhabi.ae will host individual pages for each of the emirate’s golf clubs in nine languages.

All global awareness activity will drive users to the site, which will also feature unique content from Matteo Manassero, the Golf In Abu Dhabi Ambassador.

A priority for the IDC Golf Clubs group is to expand the number of worldwide tour operators featuring Abu Dhabi’s golf proposition in their marketing campaigns and brochures.

Targeting activities in the UK, Germany, France and Italy, the European golf market has been identified as one of huge growth potential, with a series of joint marketing promotions on the cards.

The IDC will also be working closely with clubs and tour operators to develop packages in the emirate, with the popularity of ‘night golf’ a particular focus.  

In the US, golf tour operators will be targeted to expand their Abu Dhabi availability, while in India and South Africa, awareness campaigns aimed at consumers are expected to drive an increase in leisure golf travellers.

The global promotional activity will also be supported by regular golf content across the array of visitabudhabi social media channels, digital advertising and regular newsletters to more than 65,000 subscribers. 

In 2014, Abu Dhabi’s leading golf courses – Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Yas Links Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, Al Ghazal Golf Club and Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club – hosted 139,175 rounds of golf, of which 20,757 were from international overseas guests. In 2011, this figure stood at 6,674.

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UAE golf round-up: UAE and GCC pairs identified for World Final in Portugal

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GCC winners Darnely & Minchin.

The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates – home of the annual DP World Tour Championship – played host to another ‘World’ event, as the regional finals for the UAE and GCC World Corporate Golf Challenge qualifiers were played there.

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The quality of the prize – both winning teams to be flown complimentary by Qantas to the World Final which takes place at the Otaivos Dunes Golf Club in Cascais Portugal in July – demanded a real test of golf. 

For the UAE, the pairing of John Gower and Roman Kawczak qualified for the all-expenses-paid trip with an excellent score of 64 combined Stableford points.

The World Final in July will see the first GCC team to qualify, with David Minchin (8) and Chris Darnely (14) set to make history in Portugal. 

The GCC winning score of 59 was the same as those for runners-up and third place in the UAE Final, with Gareth Mordey and Aqeel Hemraj, who won on a countback from Miki Mirza and Sammy Eldin.

Shot of the day was reserved for Mirza, whose second to the Par-5 14th gave him a putt for an eagle 3 and won him the ‘Movenpick Nearest to the Pin in 3 Shots’ prize.

A 2-series BMW for a hole-in-one on the 17th, sponsored by AGMC, went unclaimed. But Roger Duthie of Emirates won a weekend’s test drive in a BMW X4.

Title sponsor Visa and tournament promoter OnCourse Golf used the Regional Finals as the perfect opportunity to launch Visa Golf Access – a fantastic initiative for Visa premium card holders, full details of which will soon be available on the Visa website.

After presenting the prizes, Visa’s head of Programme Benefits PJ Hill announced that Visa would be continuing to sponsor the UAE and GCC World Corporate Golf Challenge in 2016 as part of a three-tier programme that makes Visa one of the biggest sponsors of amateur and corporate golf in the region.

Stage set for UAE final of International Pairs

The Daman Investments International Pairs UAE Final takes place at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club this Friday, May 29 with 19 teams vying for a place in the International Pairs World Final.

With the champion pair getting a chance to represent the UAE at the World Final, to be played at the fabulous Hotel Denia Marriott La Sella Golf Resort & Spa on Spain’s Costa Blanca from October 27-30, the competition is bound to be fierce. 

Since its inception 17 years ago, more than 500,000 amateur golfers from all over the world have enjoyed competing in this exciting, friendly and hugely prestigious event. 

National winners are invited to compete in the three-day International Pairs World Final programme, a 36-hole, two-day competition, which is being played in Spain for the first time in the tournament’s history.

The International Pairs remains the largest amateur golf club and club members’ tournament of its kind in the world and continues to create World Club Champions, a title currently held by England. 

Mark Kelly and Luke Eustace, who represented Selby Golf Club and England in 2014, won the title over the closing holes from South Africa and Spain.

Now in its fifth year in the UAE, every golfer in the country has the opportunity to compete in the Club Qualifiers which began at Yas Links on October 18 last year, ending just a couple of weeks ago at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.

Steve Rutter, COO of tournament promoters OnCourse Golf, said: “We are looking forward to a great day, and I can assure all the finalists that the World Final is something to really go for as last year’s UAE champions Neil and Yvette Heywood will confirm.”

Title sponsors Daman Investments recently announced their continued support for 2015-16, and Rutter added: “We couldn’t wish for a more supportive title sponsor. Daman Investments has raised the profile of the UAE International Pairs.”

Lobo’s late surge secures ADGC Matchplay crown

Brazilian teen Tiago Lobo left it late to clinch the Abu Dhabi Golf Club men’s matchplay title.

The 17-year-old scratch handicapper never led the final and found himself two down with two to play against American Chris Rossmeisl.

But a steady par to three-handicapper Rossmeisl’s sandy bogey on 17 and a driver, fivewood, two-putt birdie on 18 forced the sudden death.

Both players split Abu Dhabi’s first fairway to start overtime before Rossmeisl left his 100-yard approach 25 feet shy of the pin and missed his putt.

Lobo, meantime, hit a crisp wedge to 15 feet and nailed a slippery downhill birdie putt.

The Al Khubairat School year 12 student also went on to shoot 73-73 and win the Emirates Golf Federation’s Junior Order of Merit Championship by eight shots at The Els Club Dubai over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Australian 12-handicapper Corey Spring toppled John Garrett 3&1 in the Abu Dhabi GC men’s individual handicap matchplay final despite having to give his English opponent three shots.

The club’s foursomes matchplay title was a one-sided affair with Lina Tyson and Young Souk Choi beating Ali Fassa and Garrett 7-up.

Duffy and Fearn are tailor-made for success

The OMA Emirates Creek pairs, only being played for the third time at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, once again showed why it has become so popular in such a short time.

A full field of members teed up for several prizes being offered by new event partners – Ascots & Chapels and Jaermann & Stubi.

Played in the Pairs Betterball format, the scoring was good with the top three teams all breaking the 40-point barrier.

In first place with 45 points were Kate Duffy and partner Edward Fearn, who won two bespoke tailored blazers worth a combined Dh5,000, courtesy Ascots and Chapels.

The Indian pairing and last month’s champions – Ishwar Jodha and Dhruv Chopra – scored 43 points, but had to be satisfied with the second place.

With an impressive total of 42, Mohammed Al Musharrekh and Hassan Dahabiyeh were third.

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Chris Wood delights in car-winning hole-in-one

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Good fortune: Chris Wood with new car.

England’s Chris Wood finished eight shots behind eventual champion Byeong-hun An in fourth place at the BMW PGA Championship, but he walked away with a prize even more gleaming than the winner’s trophy – a €140,680 (Dh568,450) BMW i8 car for making a hole-in-one yesterday.

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Wood (66) aced the 14th hole, a record fifth hole-in-one of the week, but the first on the hole that offered the latest BMW model.

Wood holed out with a seven-iron from 178 yards, prompting exuberant celebrations which ended with the 6ft 6in Bristolian taking advantage of the car’s gull-wing doors being open to try it out for size.

“I just about fit in there,” Wood joked. “Last night at the hotel I bumped into Miguel (who had the 10th hole-in-one of his career on Saturday) and I said, ‘Another hole=in-one, when is it my turn?’

“All the players look on the 14th on Tuesday when we have a practice round and we think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice, a BMW i8?’ You never think that it’s going to happen to you.

“I hit a great shot and it was a bit of a delayed reaction because you hear two cheers; one sounded like it just missed and the second one it went in.”

Wood, who spent five months on the sidelines due to a broken bone in his wrist suffered when he fell over during a tennis lesson in October, added: “It was a long winter at home and you do worry whether you’re going to come back to the player you were, but to finish top five in a marquee event here at Wentworth is a big boost in confidence.”

South Africa’s Trevor Fisher Junior made the other hole-in-one of the day when his tee shot found its way into the cup on the second hole, where Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez had hit his second in as many weeks on Saturday.

Wood’s 66 was the day’s second best round after An’s 65, and matched the effort earlier in the day from Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke.

Clarke was delighted with the round, especially as it came on the eve of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, his home tournament.

“It’s been coming but it’s the first time I’ve taken it on to the course from the practice range,” said the 46-year-old Northern Irishman.

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