The hotly anticipated 2018 Golden Ball Series is under way, and this time, for the UAE’s amateur golfers, the stakes are even higher as they compete for a place alongside the stars of the European Challenge Tour in Ras Al Khaimah.
After two successful editions in 2016 and 2017, the Challenge Tour event in RAK has this year been promoted and is now the climax to the season.
The Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final will take place at the stunning Peter Harradine designed Al Hamra Golf Club from October 31 to November 3, where the top 45 players on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah will cross swords.
At the conclusion of the event, the top 15 players on the rankings will gain a life-changing promotion to play on the European Tour next season.
Golfers in the UAE are being given the chance to get their hands on a coveted ‘Golden Ball’ which will gain them entry into the Pro-Am taking place on Monday, October 29, where they will rub shoulders with golf’s next generation of superstars.
Among those to have come through the European Challenge Tour ranks are three-time major champion Brooks Koepka, reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood as well as Ryder Cup and major winning stars Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer to name just a few.
More recently, Jordan Smith won the inaugural 2016 Challenge Tour event in Ras Al Khaimah to confirm his status as that season’s Challenge Tour number one, setting the Englishman on a pathway to success which saw him claim his maiden European Tour title at last season’s Porsche European Open.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “As professional players compete to end the season at the top of the Road to Ras Al Khaimah rankings and gain promotion to the European Tour, the grand final of the Challenge Tour’s Road to Ras Al Khaimah is a prestigious event for the UAE.
“Sports and adventure tourism are key to Ras Al Khaimah’s tourism development strategy and this tournament is an important addition to our calendar that will inspire more golf enthusiasts to play where the professionals play.
“The Golden Ball Series is a wonderful example of this. Local golfers in the UAE compete for a once in a lifetime opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the next generation of professional golf stars on the European Challenge Tour.
“The amateurs who make it through the qualifying series and win a spot in the 2018 Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge grand final Pro-Am will enjoy an unforgettable experience playing alongside some of the best players.
“The championship course managed by Troon and located in the idyllic lifestyle village of Al Hamra will take them around natural lagoons in a stunning setting – allowing them to get a feel for the natural beauty of Ras Al Khaimah.
“We wish all of the competitors the best of luck and look forward to welcoming them to what is sure to be a fantastic tournament in October.”
All 21 clubs in the country have been invited to stage a qualifying event for the 2018 series, sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation, which will see players battling it out to win a much sought-after spot in the grand final set to take place at Al Hamra Golf Club on Saturday October 13.
The first qualifier took place at the weekend at Arabian Ranches Golf Club with 48 participants all vying for a place in October’s grand final. Wouter Verwaal sealed his spot after carding an impressive score of net 68 in the men’s qualifier for a one-stroke triumph over Jonathan Underhill.
In the ladies event, Elli Oschmann emphatically booked her place after shooting net 72 which included a memorable hole-in-one on the 17th.
The top three finishers from the Grand Final will be treated to a truly unique ‘inside the ropes’ golfing experience when they tee it up alongside the best players on the Challenge Tour ahead of the biggest event of the season.
Look out for information about the Golden Ball series at your golf club or email [email protected]
Golf stars of the future will be able to take their game to the next level with two new premium coaching courses offering expert tuition and training at the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Dubai Sports City.
The new high school and recruit programmes have been expertly designed to nurture and develop elite young players aged 13-19 with the goal of securing a golf scholarship at a top US college.
Both programmes will enable exclusive access to The Els Club golf course in Dubai and will be personally coached by the Butch Harmon School of Golf programme director, Justin Parsons, during weekly individual golf lessons.
Aimed at home-schooled students or those on a flexible curriculum at school, the programmes will engage youngsters in individual and group coaching sessions as well as golf-specific fitness and strength training to boost their game.
Based at The Els Club, the state-of-the-art Butch Harmon School of Golf helps players of all ages and abilities improve their technique and skill level.
Priced at Dh50,435 (inclusive of VAT), the recruit programme consists of one individual golf session per week, one two-hour group class per week, one bi-weekly individual fitness session and two weekly group fitness classes.
The high school programme is priced at Dh111,129 (inclusive of VAT) and includes one individual golf session per week, three two-hour group classes per week, one weekly individual fitness session and two weekly group fitness classes.
As part of the programme, members will also receive a kit bag containing a cap, balls, T-shirts, a towel and much more.
Jamie Mcconnell, teaching professional at Butch Harmon School of Golf, said: “Making the leap from a talented young golfer to a young player with the skills, technique, strength and ability to make it to the very top of the sport is not easy.
“The programmes, which are structured to fit within a flexible or home-schooled curriculum, will help to give the next generation of golfing stars the foundations they need to reach their ultimate goals in the sport.”
Parsons added: “The programmes have been specifically designed to benefit talented young golfers looking to develop their game and reach the next level of skill, technique and consistency.
“The structure of the programmes, from the timings, targeted fitness classes to the chance to work closely with golf pros, ensures that the players will receive the very best tutoring to help with their overall development.
“I look forward to working with some extremely talented and dedicated young golfers.”
The high school programme will commence on Sunday, September 16, and the recruit programme will begin on Monday, October 1, 2018.
For more information contact 04 425 1040 or email [email protected]. To find out more about Dubai Sports City visit http://www.dsc.ae/.
The event was held to raise more than US$20,000 for Friends of Cancer Patients and will go directly to the treatment of three-year old Mohamed Sameer Abdullah, recently diagnosed with leukemia.
“I wanted to get involved in this fantastic series as it helps such a great cause,” said Hamann, who was part of the Liverpool team that clinched the Champions League in dramatic fashion in 2005, coming back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to win on penalties in 2005 – with the German scoring the first spot kick in the shootout.
“Hopefully the money we have raised today can go towards Mohamed’s treatment and cures him so he can lead a normal childhood.
“I think it’s our responsibility to give back to the community and society. Some people are not as fortunate as myself so it’s great to get involved with such a great cause and help out this little boy.”
The afternoon golf event saw Maruf Khan come out on top in the amateur division scoring an impressive 44 stableford points with Hisham Shammas finishing second, also with 44 points but missing out on first place on a back nine countback.
Completing the podium places in third place with 43 points was Paul Grayson and all three will now qualify for the DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series Grand Final, the Mike Clark Golf Day, which takes place back on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 1, where a place in the Pro-Am at the star-studded DP World Tour Championship will be up for grabs.
In the pro division, Ricki Neil-Jones finished top of the pile after a classy round of 78 to win a place in the grand final where he will compete for a three-night golf break at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa in Sri Lanka.
For 16 handicapper Hamann however, it was all about having fun with his teammates from title sponsors DHL.
“My golf isn’t as good as it should be but then again I’m not a very patient man,” he laughed.
“You need to have patience and dedication on the range to try and improve your game. I enjoy the social aspect of being out on the course with the lads and having a laugh. If I play well that’s a bonus.”
The DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series, organised by Worldwide Golf and Sixteen10, launched last year and has captured the imagination of the UAE’s golf and business communities as well as gaining support from a string celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment including Harry Redknapp, Mike Tindall, Michael Campbell, Teddy Sheringham, Gary McAllister and Brian McFadden.
A total of US$100,000 was raised in 2017 and the 2018 series looks set to raise the bar yet further with an international event for the first time at Brocket Hall Golf Club in London on June 29.
It returns to the UAE for the DSA Open at Emirates Golf Club on September 13 and the much-loved Mike Clark Golf Day on November 1.
Having supported the series since it launched, leading logistics company DHL has this year thrown even more weight behind it by becoming title sponsor and country manager Geoff Walsh revealed the motivation behind the company’s involvement.
“It was a no-brainer for us to get involved as title sponsor. We have a corporate social responsibility and want to give back to the community,” he said.
“We want to raise as much money as possible to give towards Mohamed’s treatment. We can do something very special here in the UAE and it’s also great we are going to have an event in the UK for the first time.
“It’s been great playing with Didi as we are both excellent players. We have had great fun playing with him and he’s been really good company. It’s great that he has come out here to help raise some vital funds.”
Worldwide Golf’s Richard Bevan added: “It’s fantastic to see such an amazing turnout– the series has really taken on a momentum of its own and for so many people to get behind what we’re trying to do is truly heart-warming.
“Most people have been affected by cancer in some way and it is incumbent on all of us to do anything we can do to try and fight back.”
Following play there was a glitzy gala dinner where items were snapped up in a charity auction before Hamann entertained guests with a live Q&A.
For more information on any DHL Swing Against Cancer Golf Series event, or to find out how you can get involved, email [email protected] or visit www.swingagainstcancer.com.