We caught up with 43 year-old Tom Buchanan, the Operations Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
Gulf News: Tell us about yourself Tom and how you came to be here at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in the UAE?
Tom: I first came here to Al Ain over 11 years ago.
I left my job in Duddingston GC in Edinburgh, Scotland working for Head Golf Professional Alastair McLean who was a great boss.
I was working in a farm in Scotland and I got a call from a friend in the golf industry Jonathan Porteous, formerly of Tower Links Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah, who recommended me for a job at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.
One week later after a phone interview I was offered the job and two weeks later I was here in Al Ain as Golf Operations Manager. I arrived with a suitcase and a set of golf clubs. Now I have a wife, two kids and a dog.
My current role is Operations Manager for the entire resort at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.
Gulf News: What are the facilities here at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club?
Tom: We have world class indoor and Outdoor Shooting Ranges, an International Equestrian facility, the longest horse race track in the UAE, three Rugby Pitches and most recently our Cricket Academy and a championship golf course - the back nine back is floodlit as is the Golf Academy including the par 3 course.
We operate under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
We have three restaurants on site and have around 120 Golf Members.
The Academy Golf Membership is growing. We are focused on Juniors to play golf and we have a genuine passion for growing the game and introducing youngsters to golf. We do not charge juniors to play. This has also nicely brought parents to the club, where we have seen an uptake of memberships into our family orientated club.
The original front nine at Al Ain was always here and opened in 2007, but had been down for a long time.
It was upgraded in 2016 by Peter Forrester, who also designed the back nine with our Al Ain team along with a shaper.
The front nine used to be a soft 36 Par. Our thought process was ‘how do we make it a better golf course?’ We are very proud of the golf offering we now have here.
Now it is a strict Par 70 with two nines of 35 that can accommodate golfers of all levels.
Gulf News: I understand you are a popular winter destination for overseas golfers?
Tom: We have Stay & Play packages with all the hotels in Al Ain with the Rotana being a key partner hotel.
We have a big loyal Scandinavian market and we also regularly host the Danish Golf Union, Stirling University, Swiss Golf Union and many schools from Finland for golf camps.
The facilities here in Al Ain are as good as anywhere in the world, we have some great partnerships who return every winter to us.
Gulf News: Tell us about your Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club international Golf Ambassadors?
Tom: We now have two Ambassadors: Craig Howie, who plays on Challenge Tour and DP World Tour as well as Elena Colombo, a Swiss player who has her Ladies’ European Tour Card.
We always try and give back to those who have supported us. Both Craig and Elena were known to us through their visits to Al Ain as amateurs.
Regular players visiting Al Ain also include: Grant Forrest, David Law, Emily Peterson, JB Hanson and the Hojgaard Brothers.
Gulf News: Tell us about your own golf?
Tom: I try and play at least once every couple of weeks. I try and support the local UAE PGA events. I have always been competitive and it is great to mix with my fellow pros.