The Austrian national golf team of 10 professionals and 12 elite amateurs are in Abu Dhabi for a winter training camp. Coach Dominic Angkawidjaja met up with Gulf News to discuss their plans.
The professionals are part of Golf Austria, and the amateurs part of Golf Team Austria, both under the umbrella of the Austrian Golf Federation, who fund these winter camps.
The group of players - amateurs, pros and coaches - totals 26, and they have attended various individual and team sessions, both on and off the golf course over the past two weeks.
Angkawidjaja said: “This is the first time our group has visited Abu Dhabi Golf Club. The weather in Austria is obviously not ideal for outdoor golf at the moment, and we have to rely on indoor golf studios and nets to practise and train. We have had a great time at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and have been looked after so well. We have previously visited Florida in the US, South Africa, Spain and Portugal as well as other facilities in the UAE, but Abu Dhabi Golf Club is our new favourite that has exceeded all our expectations. To have the Westin hotel just a pitching wedge away from the driving range and practice facilities is something we have never experienced before, and is ideal for our winter camp model as we demand a strict and safe environment of structured practice, training, and mental as well as physical sessions, as well as leaving free time for the golfers to rest or do additional individual training. The facilities at Abu Dhabi GC and the Westin are exceptional and enable us to be together when needed with no transport logistic challenges, which are always demanding and time consuming for these types of groups.”
The first week saw a focus on mental strategy with the second week more technical, hitting the golf ball and on-course strategy.
Included in this camp has been playing two rounds over the National Course, the Championship course that has historically hosted the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on 16 occasions on the DP World Tour, as well as two rounds over the nine-hole Garden Course under the floodlights.
“The two gym facilities plus the medical services support on site, as well as being able to take regular Covid-19 tests at the hotel have made our visit stress-free, which is the environment and facilities we require. We are here to practise, play and devote as much time as possible to our students, and Abu Dhabi has provided this, for our group. We will be back next year to Abu Dhabi GC, hopefully with two such camps and include the boys and girls, who could not travel this time due to Covid,” added coach Angkawidjaja.
Austria is a direct five-hour flight to the UAE through Etihad and Emirates, which means no jet-lag.
Included in the group were multiple tour winner Markus Brier, who now plays senior golf. In week one Markus was a teacher and mentor and in the second week was a student.
Other players in the group include Niklas Regner and Timon Baltl who are preparing for the Challenge Tour plus other players getting ready for the Alps and Pro Golf Tour seasons.
“We are hearing from the management that Abu Dhabi Golf Club are considering investing in a Floodlit Par 3 facility adjacent to the Driving Range and Falcon Performance Institute. This would complete our dream list for any Winter Camp, and hopefully we will see this completed on our next visit. We have also met General Abdullah Alhashimi, the Vice-Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation this week, and are looking forward to encouraging an alliance between the Austrian National Golf Team and the EGF for our mutual benefit, mindful of our differing climates,” concluded Angkawidjaja.