Dubai: Tom Rourke, the General Manager of The Els Club, Dubai spoke to Gulf News about his career and how the club aligns itself with the Dubai Sports City community over the years.
QUESTION: Tell us about your role at The Els Club, Dubai.
TOM ROURKE: I have been the General Manager of The Els Club, Dubai in Dubai Sports City and is managed by TROON Golf International for almost two years. I have been in this region for nearly 17 years and have thoroughly enjoyed living and working in this incredible golfing hub of the Middle East, I feel I have been very fortunate with my career to date.
What is the vision of The Els Club?
The Els Club facility is based around community engagement and the foundation of the golf club is its membership, which is very strong. It is almost full in all categories.
We encourage all matters golf: from complete beginners starting the game at any age, especially from our Dubai Sports City community, our loyal membership, as well Corporate Golf and tourist golfers and visiting Tour Professionals, whether resident in Dubai and the UAE or coming through Dubai on their travels, from the DP World Tour, LET, PGA Tour: including players like Steve Webster (Eng), Aaron Cockerill (Can), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) and Kristyna Napoleaova (Czech Rep).
These pros are to be seen mixing with members and playing in some of our club competitions which epitomises what this club is all about. Special congratulations go to last week’s winner on the DP World Tour, Poland’s Adrian Meronk who won the Horizon Irish Open, who is a friend and regular visitor to The Els Club.
We believe the friendly, warm welcome at The Els Club makes us a destination of choice for these pros.
Tell us about the new investment at The Els Club?
The recently opened Country Club has been a huge success including a two-storey gymnasium with a studio, swimming Pool, swim-up bar, new F&B outlets, padel courts and so much more. New hotel rooms are coming up to create a genuine destination.
What is so special about The Els Club that our readers would be interested to hear about?
We are renowned for some of the best playing surfaces in the region, especially the greens, all year round and the special golf course design by Ernie Els with its undulating fairways and green complexes. We are proud that each hole is invariably in its own corridor, despite being in the heart of a real estate community.
Service levels are very important to The Els Club. We have a loyal group of associates and this is a priority for us all, with many of the staff having been with us at The Els Club since pre-opening times over 13 years ago.
What is the CH3 Academy all about?
The CH3 is a unique Performance Centre with a current team of 11, and growing all the time due to demand. It offers a full 360 approach to golf learning; a short game area, consultation room, and state of the art equipment and technology of Trackman, Video Lessons, a Putting Studio, all at the far end of the Driving Range to deliver a private area and even has its own has its own Gym.
We can offer a quick-fix lesson to cure your slice for the medal at the weekend, or an allround full long-term programme of lessons and fitness. It is led by our Director of Instruction: Jamie McConnell, who heads up CH3 and not only teaches here in Dubai but travels the world looking after clients, both amateurs and Pros. Claude Harmon is a regular visitor and the team have regular Conference Calls with Claude for mentorship and reciprocal updates and we follow the Harmon legacy and philosophy of the game to maintain its position as one of the best Golf Academies in the region.
We have great relationships with international national teams; including visits from the Federations of Finland, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, as well as members of the UAE national team.
How involved is Ernie Els with the Club?
Ernie Els’ personality is to be found throughout the club, whether it is the ‘Big Easy Steakhouse’ or 261 and we regularly connect with Ernie and his team. Whenever the legend is in the region, he always visits us and he is very proud of his design and golf club, it was one of his first facilities bearing his name around the world. Ernie mixes with members and guests and is always made to feel at home.