Peter Cowen with Dubai resident Josh Hill at Yas Links ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Peter Cowen with Dubai resident Josh Hill at Yas Links ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Image Credit: Supplied

It is great to be back in Dubai after being in Rotherham over Christmas and New Year. As all my close friends in Dubai keep reminding me, it was my 71st birthday last week. I still feel fit and I am still excited to still be learning every day about the game, the hitting of the golf ball, technology in all areas of the game, but especially the importance of the brain when playing and improving at the game at all levels, and not just the elite professional game.

I am perhaps trying to slow down a bit, but have lost zero passion for the game since well before I played in the first Dubai Desert Classic as a touring pro at the Emirates Golf Club in 1989. Those days were somewhat different to today’s DP World Tour, but all those stories can wait for another day - perhaps not for print in Gulf News.

I still find it difficult to say no to a player who approaches me, with obvious talent, and says: “Peter, can you have a quick look at me on the range?”

It happened to me while I was writing this article at Jumeirah Golf Estates last Wednesday and, at this time of the year, it happens so often. One of my biggest weaknesses in my life is not saying no enough, but if that is the biggest criticism of Peter Cowen when I have long gone, I will take it. I can hear people laughing as they read this!

I cannot believe how busy and buzzing Dubai is. I have travelled all over the world during the last 20 months with Covid-19 all around us and, in all honesty, have not felt any city or country in the world that has respected and managed the Covid challenges as well as Dubai and the UAE Government and all the related authorities.

The last few days I have been at my Golf Academies at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and the lesson programmes as well as, it seems, local golf participation both on and off the golf course, is at an all-time high. I am still excited with what is happening in Dubai at all levels, that is why I committed to putting my brand on three of my Academies in Dubai. I am Dubai’s biggest fan and always have been and always will be.

I am impressed with all the players using Dubai and the UAE as a warm up to the season, not just for the DP World Tour, but I also seeing Challenge Tour players, Senior Tour players, female pros and well as male and female elite amateurs.

Dubai is certainly the preferred destination for all these players and they will be spreading this positive golf and tourism message as they travel around the world all year in Pro-Ams and just meeting people.

My players are all looking forward to the next few weeks. The early arrivals in Dubai were Thomas Pieters of Belgium and France’s Victor Perez.

I will be joining up in the next day or so in Abu Dhabi with DP World Ambassador Ian Poulter, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Jazz Janewattananond after a week in Singapore, Padraig Harrington and Sean Crocker.

Where else can you practise at such world-class golf facilities, in this weather (apart from Sunday, when it rained. Shhh!) and with such hospitality. I would thank all the golf clubs in the UAE for accommodating, where they can, the circus of golfers, both pros and amateurs wanting to use the facilities, during an already peak time for their day-to-day business. This should never be taken for granted and, as an elder statesman of the game, I would remind all these players to be polite and respectful to the golf clubs.

Finally, do all the golfers in Dubai and this region realise how lucky you all are? Modest as always, I am told I am one of the leading golf coaches in the world of golf. Yet, just before I flew out to Dubai, I spent the morning hand picking up balls on my range in Rotherham, as the ground is too wet to have the range machinery on it.

Everyone sees the ‘glamour’ side of playing or working around the golf tours of the world. It has its moments, but my advice to anyone wanting to progress in the game of golf, or the industry, is to work hard, that is how everyone gets there, with some talent admittedly, but remember, make sure we all have some fun along the way.