Golfing in the Middle East
Floodlights to boost Riffa club
A major floodlighting programme under way at Bahrain's Riffa Golf Club will add to the club's appeal by increasing the playable hours on the course during the week.The floodlighting programme, which represents an investment of BD400,000 ($1.06 million), will see the last nine holes (holes 10-18) lit, allowing the club to increase its capacity in the evenings and midweek. Riffa Golf Club is currently running at 90 per cent capacity on Fridays and over 80 per cent capacity on Thursdays and Saturdays, said the club's sales and marketing director Aine Mangan. "We are aiming to increase the playable hours on the Course during the week when people have work commitments throughout the day," she said. "Because of the climate in the region, we actually have the shortest daylight hours at the time of year when people want to play golf the most (ie winter), which is somewhat ironic as it means golfers lose out during the peak season." Mangan said the club was "particularly keen to attract more overseas businessmen to come down and play the course in the evenings - something they often do not have the opportunity to do if they're only in Bahrain for two or three days for a series of meetings" She said that after the completion of the floodlighting project will allow players to play a full 18-hole round under floodlighting and tee times will be available for 18 holes under floodlights from the moment the sun sets until 8pm. "Players will also be able to play 9-hole floodlit rounds - the club expects this to be the most common option for players. The last tee time for 9-hole floodlit rounds is 10pm and 'lights out' will be midnight," she said. Mangan said the floodlighting programme and other facilities at the club had been well-received by senior representatives of the travel and tourism industry, tour operators and golf clubs in regional countries during recent roadshows conducted by the club. "In fact, the club's most recent roadshow took place in April 2002. The eight-city pan-Gulf roadshow began with a visit to Kuwait and also took in Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dhahran and Doha," said Mangan. "The aim of the roadshows was to introduce business executives and those involved in the travel and tourism markets throughout the GCC to the benefits of combining golf with business trips or private holidays in Bahrain. "The response to the roadshow was extremely positive in all the GCC states." She said the club's image had received a big boost recently by the visit of PGA chief executive Sandy Jones as well as Peter Walton, chief executive of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). As a result of Jones' visit, Riffa is set to become the first training centre in the Gulf where golf professionals may gain their PGA qualifications. This summer, the club is offering great value visitor green fees to attract golfers. From July 1 to August 31, the club will offer weekend rates of BD25 for 18-holes and BD16 for nine holes and weekday rates of BD20 for 18 holes and BD14 for nine holes. A special group rate of BD30 per person will also be available and offer an 18-hole round of golf with cart, range balls, lunch and complimentary beverage. Opened in 1999, Riffa Golf Club is home to Bahrain's first 18-hole PGA grass golf course. The 6,817 yard, par 72 course features five lakes, more than 70 sand bunkers, over 500 date palms and 400 specimen trees. There is a 30-bay Driving Range and practice and teaching facilities include two air-conditioned swing studios equipped for video analysis. The clubhouse features two restaurants, a corporate entertainment suite, golf shop and Bahrain's first Golf Academy employing three full-time PGA (Professional Golfers Association) professionals.