Little more than a quarter of a century ago it was the world’s biggest unused bunker, a landscape inhabited only by the camels that freely wandered its towering sand dunes.
Today that desolate stretch of desert is the magnificent Emirates Golf Club, home to one of the world’s most iconic courses and two of the game’s leading professional tournaments, the Dubai Desert Classic and Dubai Ladies Masters.
The Middle East’s spiritual home of golf will achieve another first on Thursday when the famed Majlis course at Emirates GC plays host to the opening event of the 2014-15 UAE World Corporate Golf Challenge (WCGC) qualifying series.
A field of 60 players, many of whom live and work in the futuristic skyscrapers that provide the stunning backdrop to the Majlis, will tee it up in one of the biggest national qualifying series in WCGC history.
From a promising two-tournament beginning in 2013-14, the UAE WCGC qualifying series has blossomed into an eight-month, 11-tournament calendar, proudly organised by the Middle East’s leading corporate tournament organiser and golf advisory provider, OnCourse Golf.
OnCourse Golf Managing Director Stephen Rutter said the Majlis was a fitting venue to kick-start the region’s biggest corporate golf event.
“The World Corporate Golf Challenge is the ideal excuse for Dubai’s golf crazy corporate community to mix a little business with one of the region’s ultimate pleasures, a round of golf on the famous Majlis course,” Rutter said.
“So many of the game’s greatest players, from Seve Ballesteros, to Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Laura Davies have graced this historic venue and that only adds to the attraction for amateurs looking to test their games in a competitive golfing and networking friendly environment.”
The top three teams from the 18-hole pairs (combined stableford) event at the Majlis will qualify for the UAE WCGC final on May 1, to be hosted at another of the emirate’s world renowned venues, the Greg Norman-designed Fire Course at Jumeriah Golf Estates. The overall UAE champions ultimately earn one of amateur golf’s most coveted prizes, an all-expenses paid trip to the WCGC Grand Final in Cascias, Portugal in mid-2015.
Standard Chartered bankers Shane O’Neill and Shehzad Hameed represented the UAE at the 2013-14 WCGC final in Spain with Hameed describing the 36-hole final at the La Reserva Club de Golf Sotogrande as an “unforgettable experience”.
The expanded 2014-15 UAE WCGC Qualifying Series is backed by an elite family of sponsors –
TaylorMade, Daman Investments, Dubai Duty Free, Virgin Atlantic and VISA – and supported by the region’s governing body, the Emirates Golf Federation, and official media partners, Middle East Golfer magazine and UAE Golf Online.
“We’re really grateful to all our team of sponsors and together with them we look forward to making the WCGC UAE qualifying series not only the biggest corporate golf event in the UAE, but also the best.”
WCGC Event Director Harry Lloyd, speaking from London, congratulated OnCourse Golf for the rapid growth of the UAE qualifying series.
“I am delighted that our new partners in the UAE and Middle East will be hosting 10 WCGC qualifying events for upcoming 2014-15 season,” Lloyd said.
“This will go a long way to cementing the event within the Middle East and giving corporates the ideal opportunity to be part of the world’s largest amateur corporate golf event,” Lloyd said.