Teeing off in the UAE

Dubai Golf is hoping to continue to play its part in the further development of the sport.

It is just fifteen short years ago that Emirates Golf Club burst onto the world's golfing scene, and brought with it the image of Dubai as a golfing destination.

For those who were in Dubai on that sunny day in 1988 the thought that in a decade and a half there would another five courses in operation, two next door in Abu Dhabi, and two more under construction in Dubai, would have seemed an impossible dream.

But today Dubai and golf have become a winning combination.

It should be no surprise then that the management company of the forerunners of golf in the emirate - Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club - adopted the name Dubai Golf when the management of the two clubs (and Dubai Golf & Racing Club at the time) merged into a single unit.

Working alongside the DTCM, Dubai Golf has for the past ten years participated in major travel fairs, principally in Germany, Switzerland, UK, Scandinavia, and in the Far East, South Africa and Australia, promoting Dubai as a golfing destination.

As the number of courses increased and Dubai's popularity as a golfing destination grew, the need for a centralised booking system was met by Dubai Golf's Central Reservation System which now handles bookings for all eight courses in the UAE, although five are on a dial-up system at the moment.

The next step after the reservation system was filling a niche in the market for a dedicated tour operator-cum-destination management company that could specialise in pure golfing holidays, both inbound and outbound.

Director of international marketing Michelle Chedotal was given the task of establishing the new division, and soon Dubai Golf Holidays + Events was producing dedicated inbound tourists to Dubai.

"Not wishing to compete with existing destination management companies, DXBGH+E caters only for purely golfing holidays," says Michelle Chedotal, now general manager of the new company.

Dubai Golf Holidays + Events is effectively a one-stop shop for travel and tour operators wishing to offer golfing holidays to Dubai. On the outbound front, Dubai Golf Holidays + Events also offers Dubai-based golfers holidays abroad in countries such as Mauritius, Morocco, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, USA, Sri Lanka and beyond.

"For both our inbound and outbound customers we aim to deliver what we promise - a wonderful memory. For our guests, and us, the journey is the reward."

Another new venture for Dubai Golf recently has been in the field of management and consultancy, with a new company International Golf & Leisure Services about to be launched.

"We enjoyed working with Emaar on the Emirates Hills project so much, that we realized that there was a market for local expertise as well as the standard management and consultancy services, that we were in a unique position to offer," says managing director Rod Bogg.

IGLS will be an independent company offering a full range of management and consultancy services to any new or established golf or leisure operation, from initial design to opening and beyond.

The Central Reservations System will be one of the services that IGLS will provide, as well as their next venture, Dubai Golf Design, an extension of the current in-house design and publishing operation located on the grounds of Emirates Golf Club.

Putting all these services under independent management will divorce them from the two clubs managed by Dubai Golf, and avoid any conflict of interest. "What we are trying to do" says Bogg "is make some or all of the things we have developed over the past 15 years available to the other clubs. It might only be the central reservations system, but if it helps to sell golf then we all benefit, and more importantly, so does Dubai."

The offshoot of all this may be an Association of Golf Clubs working together voluntarily with the DTCM to develop a joint international marketing programme and to work together to further develop the local market.

"Add our small contribution to that of Troon Golf, management company of The Montgomerie, with their enormous international infrastructure and experience, and the individual experience of Nad al Sheba General Manager Jerry Kilby, Jebel Ali's James Williams, and others, and we have the perfect formula for success".

Dubai and Golf make a perfect combination. Dubai Golf is hoping to continue to play its part in the further development of that combination.