Gulf News exclusively caught up with one of the world’s top golf coaches, 72 year-old Englishman Peter Cowen who has played at the Emirates Golf Club in 1989 and treats Dubai as his second home.
Peter, welcome to Dubai again. What were your memories of the Emirates Golf Club?
I recall driving from our hotel in the middle of Dubai on what seemed like a dirt track all the way out to the Emirates Golf Club, with only the sea all the way out on the right-hand side. There were camels either side of the road in the desert and virtually no buildings and sometimes the camels even came onto the road. It was so far out from the city in those days.
You then arrived at the Majlis entrance gates of Emirates Golf Club and the green grass of the golf course, referred to as the ‘stamp,’ surrounded by desert. It was really quite a sight.
I only played in 1989 and have come back to Dubai most years since, mainly as a coach, in my second career, and we have had many winners, including Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Thomas Bjorn and up the road at Jumeirah Golf Estates we have had a further 12 winners. Dubai is a special place for me.
Dubai, in those early years, extended the season of the DP World Tour (then the European Tour). It was one of the first events to be held outside of mainland Europe, along with the Tunisian Open in North Africa, and paved the way for the modern DP World Tour that really is the global tour of world golf.
What were your memories of Dubai in those early days?
There was no skyline in Dubai and the now Dubai Marina was just desert, dunes and a beach. The tallest building in Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East was then the Dubai World Trade Centre, which today is dwarfed by so many buildings on the Sheikh Zayed Road. The changes to Dubai over the last 35 years have been truly remarkable. I doubt if a city anywhere in the world has developed so much in that time. I often think where will Dubai be in a further 35 years?
Tell us about your relationship with Dubai from then?
In 2000, I established my Peter Cowen Golf Academy at Emirates Golf Club and extended my relationship soon after with the addition of Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club to the Peter Cowen Golf Academy family. I have always treated Dubai as my second home. I recall going home after the first edition and telling anyone who would listen that Dubai is a must visit ‘Bucket List’ golf course and I still tell people today to go there, now there are nine golf clubs, 11 golf courses, two of which are floodlit, plus so many Par 3 courses and, of course, the hugely successful TOPGOLF facility at Emirates Golf Club. I am now 72 years old, a global traveller and it is always fun to return to Dubai, where I still have so many good friends.