Al Ain Equestrian Shooting and Golf Club Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Gulf News caught up with Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club to discuss golf in the Garden City of Al Ain.

How long have you been in the UAE and where has your career taken you to date?

I arrived in the UAE in 2005, firstly, at Tower Links Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah, before moving to Al Ain in 2008. Previous to that, I started my golfing career at Beeston Fields Golf Club in Nottingham, England, before working at Mirage City in Cairo before my move to the UAE.

What are the plans for Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club this coming season and beyond?

Like all golf facilities here in the UAE, we have had to work with the Covid-19 global challenges, and while operations for golf from within the UAE have not been affected too much, thanks to domestic support from especially the Emirates Golf Federation, we have missed out on overseas golfers and groups over the previous 2020—2021 peak winter golfing season. For this coming season, hopefully, we have started to plan for these again and are also looking to host our international events once more.
We are also in talks with the organisers of the Faldo Series to enter into a new agreement, which will see both their Middle East Qualifier and their Faldo Series Europe Grand Final return to Al Ain for the coming years, after missing out on last year’s event due to COVID. The Faldo Series sees 19 events, played across eight countries in three continents all qualify to come to Al Ain and to meet the tournament host Nick Faldo.
We are always excited to be the Grand Final host venue and we receive exceptional international exposure through this partnership throughout the year. Our on-site hotel is set to be completed shortly with a planned opening date in the first quarter of 2022. This will be great not only from the golf club’s perspective for our overseas groups but also for our local visitors, plus the added benefit it will bring to all the other activities we have here at our resort.

Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club. Image Credit: Supplied

What do you see as the strengths and challenges for the UAE golf industry moving forward?

One strength I would suggest of all the golf facilities in the UAE is how we have all coped with the COVID situation last season, the rounds of golf numbers we share among all the golf clubs are testament to this.
We are now slowly moving through this, in a collaborative manner, and opening up once again to a more normal operation, especially with regards to overseas visitors. Another collective strength has to be the high standard of golf clubs, golf courses and other golf facilities available and accessible throughout the UAE for all golfers. Finally, we are all spoilt to be able to attend and support the international professional golf tournaments that we have access to on our doorstep in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai and other emirates from time to time.
With the transient nature of many ex-pat golfers in Al Ain, one challenge that we all face as a golf industry is our mandate to grow the game of golf in the country. Along with other golf clubs in the UAE we have been working with the EGF, and with their support, provide introductions to golf and tuition for local Emirati’s. Before last season we were also welcoming local schools to come to the club which will hopefully start up again in the near future. I am sure with all the work that the EGF is doing, with this encouragement and other such initiatives, we are really going to see a continued increase in the number from the local population taking up the game of golf over the coming years.