Muscat: With Oman making its mark in the international golfing arena by organising the GCC Golf Championships, which begin today at Almouj Golf, the country may host a world-class Mena (Middle East & North Africa) Golf Tour next year, according to a top official from the Arab Golf Federation (AGF).
Speaking to Times Sport, on the sidelines of the GCC Golf Championships inauguration ceremony yesterday, Khaled Abunayyan, vice-president of AGF stated that negotiations are underway to bring the elusive tournament to Muscat next year. "We thought of having it (Mena Golf Tour) this year, but the calendar is packed, so we may have the championship next year," he said. The Mena Golf Tour is an initiative by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation. With support from the AGF and R&A, the tour encourages participation from the best Mena amateur and professional players, as well as eligible players from around the world.
"The creation of the Mena Golf Tour opens up new windows of opportunity for Mena professionals and amateurs to develop their golfing skills, alongside international players on home soil.
With large prize funds and World Amateur Ranking points available, the Mena Golf Tour provides a unique platform for success and development," Khaled pointed out. "On the Mena tour, 60 per cent are professional players and 40 per cent are amateurs. The event will offer a lot of exposure for Omani golfers as well," he remarked.
Oman will make its debut on the European Challenge Tour when the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic is staged for the first time at Almouj Golf from Oct. 24–27, 2013. The tournament will be the first Challenge Tour event of its kind not only in the Sultanate but also in the GCC and will offer a total of US$300,000 in prize money.
According to Khaled, with three lush-green courses in the country, the Sultanate is fast becoming a hub for international golf tournaments. "[We have] three top golf courses that meet international standards. What more can you ask for? This is one reason why we are thinking of having MENA here," he confided.
Khaled, who is also the chairman of the GCC Golf Championships Organising Committee and the president of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation, noted that he is looking forward to the three-day golf challenge in Oman.
"It will be an exciting event because you'll have the six best teams in the GCC fighting for the title, and Almouj is a great place to host a championship such as this. I am looking forward to it," he added.