Golfers from across the Arab region are in Cairo taking part in the 33rd Pan Arab Golf Championship.
With countries including Lebanon, Oman and Saudi Arabia taking part in the sporting event, the competition’s organisers are hoping to raise Golf’s profile in the Arab world so that players can start to compete at an international level.
The tournament is being held in the 6th of October City, and despite the political turmoil in Egypt, it hasn’t put the players off here.
“The Saudi team is, with God’s will, a good team. We are optimistic this year.
The tournament is in Egypt and whenever a tournament is in Egypt, everybody likes to participate, firstly because of the strong competition and secondly because of the beautiful course you have here,” said Saudi team captain, Saud el-Ghamdi.
While the number of golf courses in the Middle East has increased dramatically in recent years, the level of play has yet to catch up with the rest of the world.
Lebanese golfer Rasheed Akl said the sport is growing but more needs to be done for it to grow further.
“The playing level is advancing, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. A lot of efforts should be exerted on the players themselves and on successive tournaments so that players can be in ‘good performance,” he said.
Golf will once again be a sport at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, with at least 30 countries expected to be represented from all continents. But it is unlikely that any
Arab players will be medal contenders, despite the sport’s growing profile.
The Arab Golf Association hopes to change that by helping nations improve the quality of the players and their skills.
Bahrain team captain, Adel Ali el-Fayyad said the Association has big plans for the future.
“The Arab Golf Association is in constant progress. There are many programs that will be implemented in the future, which is entry of players in the MENA tour, which is [the tour] for professional players in the Middle East . The Arab
Championship is for players to gain experience from playing against each other,” he said.
The Arab world has yet to produce a Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, but sportsmen here are determined to be on the fairway to success “Until now, no Arab player who has reached the international level, maybe because we are new to the sport in comparison to other countries that have more than 50 or 100 years of experience. The sport is progressing [in the Arab region]. It’s an unusual sport. It’s an industry that many factors go into like tourism,” said golf course manager, Hefny Hegazy.
For those competing in the 33rd Pan Arab Championship, the course isn’t without its challenges.
“The last hole was difficult. Unfortunately, it undid all my efforts today. Competition will be tough on this last hole,” said Omani golfer Azzan el-Ramhy.
The four day tournament which started on Tuesday runs until June 28.