Golf Saudi's Yasir Al Rumayyan, Jonathan Smith and Alex Armas, CEO, Ladies European Tour
Golf Saudi's Yasir Al Rumayyan, Jonathan Smith and Alex Armas, CEO, Ladies European Tour Image Credit: Supplied

The CEO of the Ladies European Tour, Alexandra Armas, is keen to follow in the footsteps of the European Tour by hosting more tournaments in the Middle East, after the LET’s three-week stint in the region came to an end at the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah.

Dubai has welcomed a number of the world’s best female golfers since 2006 at Emirates Golf Club, while Qatar and Abu Dhabi have both previously hosted tournaments too. The ground-breaking Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series – Jeddah were both added to last year’s schedule, and returned this year as part of the Women in Sport Season in the Kingdom.

With the European Tour currently hosting the Aviv Dubai Championship, which precedes the DP World Tour Championship, as well as five more events in the region in the next three months, Armas is keen for the LET to follow suit by adding more events to the schedule in the Gulf.

“We would very much like to see more events held in the region on the LET,” she said. “We’ve seen the success of men’s golf in the area and we have always had a great experience playing in the Middle East. So it’s something very much on our strategic plans to keep building it in other territories in the region.

“Dubai and the establishment of the tournament, has always been a highlight of our season and they have great golf courses. It’s got good weather. And obviously it’s been an established destination for men’s golf and something we would like to keep growing, through more tournaments in the Middle East.”

Following the two events in Jeddah last year, which were the first professional women’s sport events in the Kingdom, Golf Saudi continued to make its presence felt on the global sporting stage by backing four fully-sanctioned Aramco Team Series events in New York, London, Singapore and King Abdullah Economic City in 2021, with each tournament carrying a USD$1 million prize fund.

With all major Tours having to cancel much of the schedule in 2020 in response to the covid pandemic, Armas was thankful for the investment that Golf Saudi, and Aramco, put into the women’s game.

“Obviously on the back of covid it was vital to find playing opportunities for the members,” she said. “It was hard when we weren’t able to compete and they weren’t able to work. And getting the support of Golf Saudi and putting on these tournaments was not only good for the players but also rebuilding our schedule.

“After the first year when we visited the Kingdom, players didn’t know what to expect. It was a new country. They all had a great experience last year. So this year they know what to expect, you could feel there was more excitement to come back. All the Golf Saudi events are top class, so the players are very happy.

Armas also pointed out the work that Golf Saudi were doing with their Ladies First Club, which has introduced over 1000 Saudi women and girls to the game since the inaugural Saudi Ladies International last year.

“From our perspective as the Tour but also from our members perspective, they like to leave a legacy from wherever they play and growing the game in Saudi Arabia was an important element for us to integrate into our tournaments there,” she said.

“I believe that golf is a great game for the Middle East and for Saudi Arabia and with initiatives like the Ladies First Club I have no doubt that we will see a lot more players picking up the game and I’m sure that some of those will be professional at some stage. It’s a long journey and it will take time, but there’s a lot of good positive momentum already.”

The LET schedule is yet to be announced for the next year, but Golf Saudi are widely expected to continue to grow the game in new territories with Asia set to be confirmed as a new destination for the Aramco Team Series in 2022.