Tuesday, May 11, 2021 | Ramadan 28, 1442 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Spotlight: Teeing off into the future

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Golf in Oman has come a long way since gaining official status in 1971 with the Ghala Golf Club. In its 50th year, the club will have the Sultanate’s first Golf Academy.


With a golf association, a strong national team, hundreds of registered players, golf in Oman is happening and now adding to the existing assets is the Golf Academy.


The objective now for golf enthusiasts in Oman is to promote the sport amongst the youngsters and build them up for the national team.


Faiz Mohammed is a national team player and is also a board member of the Ghala Golf Club. He has been playing golf for the last 11 years.


“The Academy has two parts to it. There is one part from where you can shoot outside, as we will have the foldable glass. Equipment are on the way to complete the facilities. Four cameras including — top, right and back — would be covering different angles of the player. The television screen would allow you to pause your swing to study it further’’, he explained.


The simulation at the academy allows the players to play golf at the various golf courses in the region so that they can practice at the home ground before heading for tournaments. “It is especially aimed at the national team’’, added Faiz.


900 GOLF PLAYERS


It has been over a year since the Oman Golf Committee has been upgraded to Oman Golf Association; for ten years it has been a committee. Covid-19 might be a hindrance, but the association is focused on developing it further and one of the main objectives is to expand the game across Oman.

There are 900 golf players registered at Oman Golf Association out of which 130 members are Omanis. Also, there is an Omani ladies team. One of the successful projects is the ‘Go Ladies’ — which overlooks the training and launching. We encourage ladies to come and learn the game for two weeks and then take them to the next levels — intermediate level — followed by senior level. There is also a ‘Go Juniors’ team. These are two programmes the Oman Golf Association is proud of.


Mundir al Barwani, Chairman of Oman Golf Association, who has been playing golf for 15 years, said, “We want to get the youngsters to take up golf with training and with the right nurturing they can move towards the national team. We are very grateful for achieving the results we have had in recent years. Our under-18, under-15 and under-13 teams have been winning in the GCC region.”


Ahmed al Wahaibi is a 10th grader and an under-15 champion. In 2018 he had won first place in GCC in 2019 he got second place. At the individual level, he got third place. “We have to keep practising and try our best. Discipline is the most important thing in this game’’, said Ahmed in his message to the young golfers.


To move forward with this objective Ghala Golf Club has also been providing initiatives.


Khalil al Wahaibi, General Manager at the GGC explained, “Facilities have been designated for juniors up to 17 years of age. This is free of charge. They can come and play for free here. The main purpose is to introduce them to the sport and if they take it up, they have the opportunity to reach up to the national team.”


“The Academy supported by Mohammed Riyaz will bring in the professional training and hopefully will bring in a coach who will guide the youngsters. The youngsters are the future so they will grow with the game and then have a strong national team’’, explained Mundir.


There is also tourism potential connected to golf although at present the globe is going through a pandemic.


“Many people together have been keeping up the sport active in Oman. Now our focus is also international events. Even when we were Oman Golf Committee, we were able to bring the European Tour — The Oman Open. It brought in a lot of professional players and gave it a tourism perspective as well.


In just one week there were 500 to 600 people in town keen to enjoy all the facilities and life in Oman. This year we had to postpone it at the last minute simply because of the current situation of the pandemic. We did not want to take the risk. Hopefully, we will go back to it at the end of this year or next year. Let us see how it goes’’, said the chairman of Oman Golf Association.


To promote family participation, the top floor of the Academy will have a Majlis area in which families can book and play golf from there to the netted area. “You can be with your whole family but from towards the front one can shoot the ball to the driving range, the golf course’’, explained Faiz.


According to him, lifestyle is the most important aspect of golf.


“Some of the best business deals happen at the golf course. The players are together for hours together and give immense opportunity to discuss and make decisions’’, Faiz Mohammed reflected from personal experience.


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