The Mena Golf Tour reaches a significant milestone in its nascent history when it celebrates its 50th tournament at this week’s Dubai Creek Open in a reflection of the expanding horizons of the sport in the region.
“The staging of the 50th tournament gives us a tremendous sense of satisfaction,” Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the Mena Golf Tour, said at a Press conference ahead of the Dubai Creek Open, starting on Monday.
“We see it as our responsibility to create meaningful playing opportunities which can benefit our members and showcase years of investments made in building world-class facilities in the region,” he added.
The journey to creating a pathway for the region’s talent began in 2011 and has spread across three continents.
The road to producing fully home-grown champions may still be a few putts away, but the rapidly expanding schedule of the tour, from four events in the inaugural year to 20, has made the golfing world take notice of the growing strength of the game in the region.
“The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status for Mena Golf Tour members and a new tie-up with South Africa’s Sunshine Tour have further reinforced the tour’s position and importance in world golf,” said Buamaim with players having the incentive to represent their country in the Olympics.
“With tournaments in Morocco, South Africa, Spain, the GCC states and Thailand, we have succeeded in creating a global platform for the region’s talent to step up to the plate and show what they can bring to the table,” he added.
Adel Zarouni, vice-chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, said: “It’s quite encouraging to see the tour grow in stature and popularity every year. It’s a dream come true.
“We have some of the best courses of international standards in the region and we need more people playing there. With the Mena Golf Tour creating a competitive atmosphere, I think it’s a matter of time before we have home-grown players making waves on the circuit.”
Mustapha Al Hashimi, Chief Hospitality Leisure Officer at wasl that manages the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, commented: “The Mena Golf Tour deserves a pat on the back for achieving this wonderful milestone. We have always enjoyed being a part of the tour as it has opened up meaningful playing opportunities for players who want to make a career out of the sport.”
Hailing the landmark, England’s Zane Scotland, the most prolific winner on the tour with 11 titles to his credit, said: “It’s a great achievement one that resonates beyond the region.
“I have been playing on the tour since winning the inaugural event in 2011 and can tell from experience that it has got better every year,” said the Englishman, who is also a ‘golf in Dubai’ ambassador.
“Many good players like Ahmed Marjan (Morocco), James Allan (England), Tyler Hogarty (South Africa), Daniel Kay (Scotland), to name a few, have taken the Mena Golf Tour route to turn professionals, which shows the level of competition is making them step up their game,” he added describing the Mena Golf Tour as the best outside of the main tours.
“The tour is just awesome,” enthused Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the only UAE professional plying his trade on the Mena Golf Tour.
“The experience that you gain from playing alongside an international field is something unique for the region’s players, especially the amateurs,” added Musharrekh who just graduated from the military and is determined to carry over the training into the greens.
Since 2011, the tour has seen 32 different winners from 14 countries with English players winning 29 of the 49 tournaments (all 54-hole affairs) thus far.