Ahmad Skaik
Ahmad Skaik played in last year's Challenge de Espana after an invite swap Image Credit: Challenge Tour

Akram Skaik, Director General at the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), has hailed the importance of the partnership between the European Tour group and the EGF in helping develop local players, with the EGF set to receive 60 invites across two Challenge Tour events in Abu Dhabi this month.

UAE players are to set to go head-to-head with the game’s rising stars and DP World Tour winners, including Dubai resident Nicolas Colsaerts, when the Abu Dhabi Challenge (April 18-21) returns for its second edition next week at Al Ain, Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, before Saadiyat Beach Golf Club completes the double-header when hosting the UAE Challenge from April 25-28.

As part of the European Tour group’s long-term partnership with the EGF, which aims to develop golf in the UAE for at least the next decade, each tournament will allocate 30 invites to the EGF to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for UAE golfers.

A whole host of the UAE’s homegrown players featured across the two events last season, including the country’s No.1 amateur golfer Ahmad Skaik and his brother Mohammad.

In addition to the UAE Nationals, several UAE residents were also given the opportunity to compete, with local golf coach Louis Gaughan securing his spot by winning the Emirates PGA Championship and Joshua Grenville-Wood selected as an invitee to both tournaments, where he finished in a share of second and 18th respectively.

Joshua Grenville-Wood
Joshua Grenville-Wood finished second at last month's Delhi Challenge Image Credit: Joshua Grenville-Wood/X

“This is the second year of the Challenge Tour double header in Abu Dhabi,” said Akram Skaik, Director General at the Emirates Golf Federation.

“It’s such a good opportunity for us as a federation as we get 30 invites into each event, which allows us to give our players the opportunity to play in these elite tournaments.”

As well as giving local players vital experience of playing world class tournaments in Abu Dhabi, the EGF are able to swap some of their allocation with other international federations to allow UAE players to compete in other Challenge Tour events around the world, as well as Ladies European Tour (LET) tournaments for the country’s leading female talents.

Both Ahmad Skaik and Grenville-Wood used these to their advantage last season, with Skaik competing in four further Challenge Tour events, while Grenville-Wood, who was awarded the opportunity to represent the UAE last year, played in an additional ten tournaments on the 2023 Road to Mallorca.

Before a ball has even been struck at this year’s Challenge Tour double-header in the UAE, the EGF has already been busy exchanging invites with international federations.

Grenville-Wood came close to a first win on the Challenge Tour last month at the Delhi Challenge, finishing in a share of second at Classic Golf & Country Club after the EGF traded one of their invitations with the Indian Golf Union.

“This year, we’ve exchanged spots with around seven federations across the world and we’ve also given several LET spots to our girls,” added Skaik.

“We’re using our full allocation to support our players – it’s a great opportunity for us.

“It allows players to experience different events and courses all over the world. The courses we have here in the UAE are quite open, whereas in Europe they have narrow fairways and forests around the course.

“Last year was a bit of an experimental year for us with exchanging our invites with other federations, but this year we have handpicked the events we want our players to go and play.

“I don’t think any other federation has the opportunity that we have. It’s a great initiative.”