Dubai: Golf’s expanding global horizons are taking on spectacular proportions here even as India, China and a host of other countries are lining up to jump on to the bandwagon.
India is seen as being the next target with players such as Jeev Milka Singh and Jyoti Randhawa breaking through on the international scene. Australian gold legend Greg Norman is one who has his eyes fixed on more golfing projects in India. He says he is looking even further afield to eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, Jordan, Brazil and Central America. This, at a time when the US market is stagnant.
“Going back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, golf was classified as an elitist sport,” he said. “It’s not that way anymore. People are seeing the viability. If you’re lucky enough to be caught up in the vortex of it, then great.” Norman has already started in India with Jaypee Greens, an 18-hole championship course within an integrated golf and residential community that is operational in Noida, just outside New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Shanghai is entering a golf boom that could shortly create a third major axis in the sport after the US and Europe. Course construction is gathering pace, especially around China’s largest city and showpiece of its industrial and commercial devlopment, big name stars are lining up for a share of the action and top tournaments are being re-located there every year. It means extra travel time for many of the biggest names in golf, but many, including South Africa’s Ernie Els, say it is a price worth paying.
Back in Dubai, the latest converts to the ambitious Gulf emirate’s booming golf course design programme are none other than world No.1 Tiger Woods and European Ryder Cup hero Sergio Garcia.
Significantly, in choosing the venue for his first venture into golf course design, Woods chose neither California nor Florida, but Dubai, recently announcing a spectacular development that will feature a par-72 course, a golf academy, 300 luxury villas, 20 mansions and an 80-room VIP hotel all embossed with the famous Tiger stamp.
It is scheduled to be completed in late 2009 and until then Woods will be a regular visitor in his private jet to compete in the Dubai Desert Classic, which he won for the first time last year, and oversee his multi-million dollar creation. AFP
“I have a vision of creating something that is uniquely mine and I want to realise this vision in Dubai.
Garcia is the latest addition to the ranks of the Jumeirah Golf Estates who are laying down a stupendous four course set-up called Fire, Earth, Water and Wind.
Norman is designing Fire and Earth, Fiji’s Vijay Singh will mastermind Water and Garcia will be responsible for Wind, which is being described as Dubai’s first links-style course.
The emirate already has seven top-class courses in commission, including the perfectly-manicured Emirates Golf Club, established host to the Desert Classic and the new additions will make it up to around 20 in the space of 28 years, a remarkable achievement for a country that depends on treated sea water to turn parched, barren land into glistening greenery.