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Growing the game

Qatar’s golf clubs are teed up for all players — women, children and families are all welcomed and encouraged to play, says Kaye Holland.

Aware that golf needs to diversify if the game is to grow, a number of new efforts are underway to advance golf in Qatar and get new players into the game. Both Doha Golf Club and Education City Golf Club have both developed programmes — from ladies' mornings to children’s packages — designed to open their doors to women, families, and younger people.

Leading the charge to diversify golf in Qatar is Education City Golf Club. Spanning 4.5sq miles, the complex features a José María Olazábal-designed 18-hole championship golf course that’s hosted the most recent two Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Its first few walls lead up to an ancient wadi (riverbed) wall; there’s also a six-hole introduction course, a floodlit nine-hole, par-three course, a driving range featuring Power Tee and TrackMan technology and — the icing on the cake — the Centre of Excellence.

This state-of-the-art training centre is “unlike anything I have ever seen”, said Education City Golf Club’s general manager, Michael Braidwood, who’s worked in the golf industry for 30 years.

Braidwood continued: “The centre offers five high-tech golf tuition studios, an indoor putting lab, a gym and a private tuition area for Muslim ladies who can learn and practice golf in privacy, meaning they don’t need to wear their abaya.”

Women are certainly at the forefront of Education City’s effort to grow golf in Qatar. “Our ladies’ section is very active, with ladies’ golfing mornings, Get Into Golf courses (a four-week programme with weekly one-hour lessons to introduce women to golf in a fun way, which costs QR740) and private lessons with our female pro, Rachel, specifically targeting Qatari ladies,” said Braidwood.

There are also ongoing efforts to increase children’s participation through a junior golf development programme called 'Play to Par' (QR600 for four weeks), which focuses not only on golf but on the key areas (including mobility, motor skills and coordination) of a child’s cognitive development. “We have well over 250 children — of which half are girls — on our database and run regular junior tournaments,” Braidwood commented.

Growing the game
Growing the game

The junior tournament isn’t the only event that Education City organises; there’s also a monthly night golf tournament on its par-three course, specifically for families. Braidwood explained: “When we opened Education City Golf Club in 2019, our aim was to be a true family-friendly golf destination. We’ve placed great care and attention on attracting all demographics to the sport and are very pleased with how well the uptake from women and girls has been.

“Our holistic facilities have made this easier; they, along with support from some of our corporate partners, have allowed us to put on classes and events that specifically target female and family participation.”

Over on the other side of Doha, Doha Golf Club — which boasts an 18-hole course designed by renowned golf architect Peter Harradine — is also seeking to bring greater diversity to the game through its Get Into Golf programme.

 

The affordable package (five classes cost QR300, while 10 classes come in at QR500) exposes golf to families and non-golfers who might be deterred from trying the game because of its traditional price point.

Come September, when summer has beaten a retreat, dedicated ladies' mornings and junior programmes resume.

 “At Doha Golf Club, we believe that golf is more than a sport,” said Elena Gonzalez, head of marketing and communications. “Golf teaches us important life lessons such as sportsmanship, hard work, honesty and patience. If we want the game we love to survive and thrive, we need to make golf more welcoming and affordable for everyone.”

All told, Qatar is making an extraordinary effort to become a world-class golfing destination and attract more women and children.

At Doha Golf Club, we believe that golf is more than a sport.

Growing the game
Elena Gonzalez Head of Marketing and Communications at Doha Golf Club

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