Dubai plays host to some of the world’s top golfing tournaments
From the DP World Tour Championship to the Dubai Ladies Masters, Dubai welcomes golf’s top stars for world class tournaments. We chat to Robbie Greenfield, editor of Golf Digest Middle East, about the major competitions.
Dubai hosts some of the biggest golf events of the season. Give us the lowdown.
The great thing about Dubai is that it almost bookends the European Tour season. You start out in February with what’s called the ‘Desert Swing’, which culminates in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, known as the major of the region, held at Emirates Golf Club. Then at the end of the season in November, the finale of the European Tour is held in Dubai. In fact, the entire season is actually referred to as the Race to Dubai. Held at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the DP World Tour Championship is where the top 60 golfers of the Tour play off for big money and the prestige of being crowned the champion.
We've seen some great moments over the years. Swedish player Henrik Stenson, who has won this tournament, is a local favourite who spent much time in his early professional career living in Dubai. Rory McIlroy's first tournament as an amateur on the Tour was at the Desert Classic. Tiger Woods also came here in 2001 and 2004 and hit balls off the helipad off the Burj Al Arab, which really put Dubai on the golfing map. These tournaments are very memorable weeks in the year, especially if you love your golf as they showcase the biggest golfing talents on some of the world's best courses.
Is there a moment you can't miss?
There are several. But if I had to pick one it would be the Dubai Desert Classic. The oldest tournament. it started in 1989 and has been won by all the greats. The Majlis golf course for that tournament in February is a very special place to be, particularly if you're building a golf trip around that time. It's a chance to walk in the footsteps of the greats.
Any memorable encounters?
I've been lucky enough to meet some of these guys and spend some time with them. Rory McIlroy, who is a former world Number One and a four-time Major winner, started here as an amateur golfer and was sponsored in the early days by Jumeirah Group. I spent a day with Rory and they had him out in the kitchen making Beef Wellington - I can tell you he's a much better golfer than he is a cook!
I've also been fortunate to meet and interview South African legend Ernie Els, Spanish player Rafa Cabrera Bello and Chinese sensation Shanshan Feng, who is a champion of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. Golf in Dubai is very welcoming to women players and holds a major tournament for the women’s European Tour as well.
How important is hosting the DP World Tour?
Launching the Race to Dubai really gave the emirate the impetus to become a golfing the year. I can't think of any other region that has such star power and focus for such a long period. Of course, we have the event at the start of the year, the Desert Swing. That this then ends in the DP World Tour in November is a very special thing. And look at the calibre of players who win there: Rory McIlroy, a two-time winner; Henrik Stenson, a two-time winner; Lee Westwood, winning the inaugural tournament in 2009. It's a very special week.
Why should fans attend?
Well, for one thing, it's free entry. Not only that, there's a wonderful array of off-course entertainment. Lots of things for the kids to do as well. Some golf coaches offer free lessons in the spectator village, which has a carnival atmosphere.
Find out all you need to know about golf in Dubai, from courses to insider tips.