Sunday sees a first-of-its-kind golf event as the EAGL Mini-Series nine-hole competition tees off on the Fire Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
Months of planning have gone in to culminate in the big day. Eight teams of four players — including a Gulf News team — will compete in this individual matchplay format. There will be no handicap and all 32 players will play off level or scratch.
If there is a significant handicap differential, Nick Tarratt, as Tournament Director and Handicap Checker, will decide if a players deserve a 1-up, 1-down start or in the extreme a 2-up, 2-down. There are two points on offer for a win and one point for a halved match. There is also a unique automatic press match for a bonus point.
Tarratt said at the draw announcement: “We have all stumbled across potentially the future of corporate golf with this EAGL Mini-Series. There will be walk-on music on the first tee, with official announcements for each player, live TV coverage on through Dubai Sports 2, as well as live streaming from 3.15pm to 9pm of the day’s action, including the UAE Golf Industry Forum to be held at the invite-only Gala Dinner in the Jumeirah Golf Estates Ballroom." The EAGL Mini-Series is an event on the Amateur Golf Tour under the umbrella of Just Golf.
Ready to go
On the course, many of the region’s decision-makers from the golf and business industries, all of them serious amateur golfers, are set to go head-to-head in the televised event. The main EAGL, scheduled to be held later this year, will be the first franchise-based amateur tournament in the world.
Mark Rix, captain of the Gulf News-sponsored English Roses and Gulf News Commercial Director, can’t wait to get out their in front of the television cameras. “This EAGL concept will catapult golf to another level and it is great it is happening here in Dubai,” he said. “My team are really up for the challenge and hope to bring home silverware.
“One of the main aspects of EAGL and what will be really great is it gives amateur golfers the real-time experience of the professional environment - from the team competition, live scoring and the live TV broadcast - while hopefully having some fun.”
35Television cameras covering the event live, with 1,500m of cable and 13 on-course towers
Abu Dhabi Roars captain Gary Webber, who plays off a handicap of 1.7, is just as excited. “This is really cool,” he said. “Obviously, there is a lot of pressure when the cameras are behind you as you are swinging a golf club, but I think my guys will get through that. A lot of people will be watching, including kids – and for them to look and think that they could also play in an event like this someday is really neat for amateur golf. This will help golf grow even more, especially in regions where it hasn’t developed like it has in Europe and the United States, so it is a really exciting event to be part of and I am looking forward to it.”
Paul Murnaghan, captain of the Asian Jumbos, is keen for his players to make a fast start. “With the nine-hole format we have to come out of the blocks running,” he said. “As we prepare for the event we are keeping a mindset of taking it easy, getting a good warm up, get used to the heat and then just play your normal golf and trying to block out all of the TV cameras and the press and whatever else is going around. We should just go out and enjoy it and get as many holes so we can up straight away before we get to the eighth or ninth hole.”