The call of the club

He’s the youngest player at the tournament but that didn’t seem to faze young Ahmed al Wahabi. At 14, it was easy to spot him from among the towering adult players. His small stature and sunny disposition will make you do a double take.
While he is surrounded by amateurs and professional players alike, some thrice his age, he felt comfortable like he belonged there. He is not to be belittled and everyone recognized his talent and potential as a serious golf player.
“My handicap is 11 and I’d been playing golf for three years now. I joined a few games previously but this is one of the big tournaments I am eager to be a part of,” he shared during the closing ceremony of the event.
Ahmed was already at the Ghala Golf Club early Friday morning of February 8, 2019, for the 6th Al Nahda Golf Tournament. His face was full of excitement and while many have the wrong assumption that it is a game for old retirees, young Ahmed is proving that such is not the case anymore.
“Inshallah, I will become a pro-player someday,” he said.
He is the youngest player of the Oman National Golf Team. His most recent achievement was earning the 3rd spot in the GCC Golf Tournament.
Divya Prakash Ahuja, the company’s Asset Manager and one of the eager supporter and also instrumental for making the event possible has been a serious golfer that he shared if one is interested to really become a pro, starting young is the way to go.
Scoring an impressive second place in an Asian Golfing tournament, he has seen how competitive the golfing world can get.
“Those starting at the age of 18 will have more potential to enjoy the game and pursue it as a career. Age is totally a factor,” he shared.
This year’s tournament has brought in more zealous players. Divided into group of fours, even His Excellency Hamoud al Mahrouqi was happy about the turnout and the success of the event.
As was the case the previous year, the tournament adopted the Texas Scramble or also known as the Captain’s Choice format.
Here, the teams of 3-4 choose the best drives for the next shots until the golf ball is holed. This allows poor golfers to enjoy the game as they will always be saved by their teammate’s drive.
Providing a little insight as to how the tournament came into being, Niti Ajit Hamlai, Managing Director of Al Nahda shared “When we started it, we just thought that it was a good idea and something people will be interested in. We were so happy with the turnout and success of the first event that we kept doing it year by year.”
While the event started at 12:45, the 18-hole game took around four hours with all of the teams completing the event at around 5 pm.
“I used to work in operations and the schedule was quite challenging. But now that I have a permanent weekend off, I got into golf. Golf is perhaps the only game in the world that you can play even if you are alone,” Krishna Suri, Director Quality Control and Development shared.
“I wasn’t into the hard athletics games. But golf is something you can do for fun with friends or by yourself. You are playing against yourself most of the time so if you want to be better at it, you have to keep on doing it and dedicate time,” he added.
Talking to a few people in Muscat, the general consensus, especially among the millennials, is that golf is a white, old man’s game who have plenty of time in their hands and money to burn.
The reality however which became apparent during the tournament is that it has attracted people of different background with a quarter of the player being Omanis and majority of which are expats.
“Depending on how serious a player you are, it can be quite challenging financially,” Krishna said
One of the premium grade clubs cost around USD 600 and for someone who is interested to get started on the game, you need to invest on the gears particularly of the recommended 14 clubs set.
Having supportive parents allowed young Ahmed to thrive in the sport.
“Our goal is always to provide participants an enjoyable time. We wanted to make it better and better every year and this year, we have to close at a hundred participants,” Dr Mary Ann Roberta — Corporate Director Marketing and Development said.
“All of this won’t be possible without the support and help of all our staff, sponsors and friends,” she said.
The team comprised of Mark Rix, Rohan Thotabaduge, Sam Perera and Siddhart Bhardwaj was the best team winners for the tournament.
Meanwhile, Hassan Baabood (men) and Jumana al Ghadani (women) won the Nearest to the Pin awards while the longest drives were accomplished by Ahmed al Balushi (men) and Kamini Singh (women).
“This tournament has been organised very well and we look forward to hosting more events like this at Ghala Golf Club,” said HE Hamoud al Mahroqui.