Dubai: In celebration of its silver jubilee, Emirates Golf Club has collected a signed or initialled original golf club from the caddie bags of all 24 past winners of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
It is hoped the collection will go on permanent display in the clubhouse within the coming weeks, along with a pin flag signed by all of the tournament’s former winners, which include Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els.
Dubai Golf CEO Christopher May admits to borrowing this idea from the museum of Wentworth Golf Club in the UK after realising that the UAE’s first grass course had comparatively little memorabilia to show for its equally illustrious past.
He wrote to all 23 living past champions and the Seve Ballesteros Foundation, in the event of the Spanish golfer’s death in 2011, to request a club from each of their respective winning years.
He now hopes the tradition will be passed down at the club for generations to come, with the clubs being easier to wrestle from players at the time rather than years after the event.
“So far we are two clubs short [of what we want],” said May, who started collecting the clubs three years ago in preparation for the course’s 25 year anniversary this month. “Wayne Westner, who won in 1993, thinks he’s managed to locate a club and Ernie Els is still struggling to find one from his 1994 bag, having already given us clubs from his other two victories in 2002 and 2005. We should have them both within the week, however.
“Ironically, Tiger Woods was the first player to send us a club from both his 2006 and 2008 triumphs,” added May. “We had anticipated his would be the hardest to obtain one from, but he replied quickly. These clubs really helped us prompt some of the slower golfers and embarrassed them into sending theirs,” he said.
May said that aside from the collection’s appeal to fans of sporting memorabilia, it would also serve as an important historical reference point, with drivers on display progressing from bulky wooden materials to sleek and lightweight titanium.
“One of the most interesting additions is Colin Montgomerie’s club from his 1996 win. His shot on the 18th to win famously earned him European Tour shot of the year,” said May.
“He used a Ping putter and this manufacturer used to gold plate the player’s club to commemorate an event win on tour. “One would stay at the factory and the other would go to the player. Thankfully Colin decided his golden club would look best on permanent display with us.”