Sand golf tourney attracts big names


As part of its new initiatives to promote Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Duty Free is organising the first ever World Sand Golf Championship in March 2004, under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

A one-day event in the Pro-Am format, it will allow amateurs to play alongside some of the world’s biggest golf professionals, including Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Ian Woosnam and Jean Van de Velde, besides allowing the pros to compete with each other. The event is positioned between two European PGA events, the Dubai Desert Classic and the Qatar Open.
 “The tournament will be a great success in terms of promoting Abu Dhabi internationally as 32 internaional players have already announced their participation in the event,” Sheikh Hamdan told media.
 The event will be played at the Al Ghazal 18-hole par-71 sand course, which opened in 1997 and is a unique experience for both new and experienced golfer.
 Abu Dhabi Airport Catering and Duty Free managing director Mohammed Mounib told TTN in an interview that the event was designed to position the UAE as offering something beyond the sun, the sea and the wadi on the tourism front. “It’s not a gimmick, sand golf is a registered sport,” he clarified.
 The course may well be novel to many visitors: instead of ‘greens’, there are browns that are created by compacting rolled and treated sand. In addition to the customary hazards, players must also contend with the numerous burrows dug by desert lizards known as dhubs.
 The main sponsor of the event will be Adnoc, with Damas as the second main sponsor. The event is being staaged by UK-based Professional Sporting Events. “The players, all from the European Tour, are very excited about this unique opportunity since most of them have not played sand golf before. The challenge for them will be getting used to the speed and feel of the browns more than anything else. The winner will probably have the best short game of the day,” says Professional Sporting Events MD Jamie Cunningham.