“The facilities here are world class”

Colin Montgomerie, whose name and face have become synonymous with class golf, talks to TTN about the growing popularity of the game in the Middle East

TTN: The popularity of golf has risen in leaps and bounds in the Middle East over the past decade or so. What are your feelings on this broadening of golf’s horizons?
Colin Montgomerie: I am very excited to see the game I love so much developing in the Middle East.

It is a great game, and what I would really love to see is local people, particularly juniors, playing the sport. The facilities that have been developed here are truly world class and, from what I have seen, there are some substantial plans in development.

Are you the only golfer to have a course named after you (The Montgomerie in Dubai)? And how does it make you feel?
I am not sure whether I am the only person to have a course named after me, but as I was intrinsically involved in the design I am proud of what has been created at Emirates Hills. Like everything in life, there is always finetuning to be done and this is something that we are looking at currently, but it is an enjoyable and interesting test of golf.

There is lot of talk about links courses being the true testing ground for golfers. Would you agree with that?
I think golf is a magical sport in that unlike squash, or even tennis, which has some variation in the surface, golf has an endless variety of playing surfaces. I grew up on links golf but, interestingly, I have had a large bulk of my success on inland courses. I thoroughly enjoy the myriad of opportunities golf presents and have tried to introduce these in the variety of golf design projects I myself have been involved with.

What is your opinion of golf’s younger generation? And have you ever had a chance to watch some of the Middle East’s up-and-comers in action?
It’s good to see so many great young players doing so well at the moment. They are good role models for future generations and will encourage even more young people to take up golf. I’m not that familiar with players from the Middle East but golf is certainly becoming more popular there and no doubt they will be making their mark in the very near future.

What role do you play in Colin Montgomerie Design?
I play an active role and work with my designers throughout the whole process from routing and layout to detailed design. Clearly I am not slumped over the drawing board day in day out, but it is a part of my life. I particularly enjoy, and I am working on, a good number of very high quality projects at present where I hope to create world-class facilities that reflect some of the important aspects of golf courses I believe in.

Any plans for retirement, or can the fans expect to see Monty on the green for a few years yet?
While I am still capable of winning tournaments and putting myself in contention to win, I have no immediate plans for retiring. My world ranking has gone up about 60 places so I think I’m doing okay at the moment!