Gulf News exclusively spoke to Challenge Tour Director Jamie Hodges ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi Challenge, which is the first of back-to-back Challenge Tour events in Abu Dhabi as part of the long-term partnership between the European Tour group and Emirates Golf Federation aimed at developing golf in the UAE.
“It’s brilliant to be back in the UAE,” said Hodges. “It’s obviously a part of the world that the Challenge Tour has a strong history with, but it’s also a part of the world that we haven’t been back to for a number of years so it’s very exciting to be able to return to the UAE. For the players, it’s obviously wonderful news to have not just two weeks back-to-back in Abu Dhabi but two weeks on two of the best courses, Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, in the region.
“It’s great news for us as a Tour and the players are delighted with the quality of the venues that we have chosen over the next two weeks. These events play a critical role in our schedule at a time of the season when it’s difficult for us to play in most of Europe. It’s great to be back here and it’s part of a long term partnership we’ve got with the Emirates Golf Federation to help grow golf in the region.
“The European Tour Group and the Emirates Golf Federation have a ten-year agreement which includes a commitment to investing in a minimum of two Challenge Tour events annually. We now have an opportunity to play in a part of the world that we love, to play on courses that players are desperate to play on, and it offers a pathway for Emirati players as 30 spots in each of those tournaments are allocated to the UAE. Through the exchange of invitations, Emirati players will also have the opportunity to play across Europe in different conditions, different environments, different courses and really experience life as a professional golfer.”