Al Ain Equestrian Shooting and Golf Club
Image source: Abdul Rahman / Gulf News
Gulf News caught up with Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club to discuss golf in the garden city of Al Ain.
How long have you been in the United Arab Emirates and where has your career taken you so far?
I arrived in the United Arab Emirates in 2005, initially at Tower Links Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah, before moving to Al Ain in 2008. I previously started my golf career at Beeston Fields Golf Club in Nottingham, England before joining Mirage City in Cairo before moving to the UAE.
What are the plans for Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club for the coming season and beyond?
Like all golf courses here in the United Arab Emirates, we had to deal with the global challenges of Covid-19, and although golf operations in the United Arab Emirates were not affected too much, thanks to domestic support from the Emirates Golf Federation in particular, we have in the missed the past 2020–2021 golf season by foreign golfers and groups. We have hopefully started planning again for the coming season and want to organize our international events again.
We’re also in talks with the Faldo Series organizers to reach a new agreement that will result in both their Middle East Qualifier and Faldo Series Europe Grand Final returning to Al Ain in the years to come, following on from last year’s Missed the event because of COVID. The Faldo Series comprises 19 events that are held in eight countries on three continents.
We are always excited to host the Grand Final and this partnership gives us an exceptional international presence year round. Our on-site hotel is due to be completed shortly with a planned opening date in the first quarter of 2022. This will be great not only from a golf club perspective for our overseas groups but also for our local visitors, plus the added value of it will add to all of the other activities we have here at our resort.
Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
Photo credit: Delivered
Where do you see the strengths and challenges for the UAE golf industry in the future?
One strength that I would recommend of any golf course in the UAE is how we all handled the COVID situation last season.
We are now going through this slowly and collaboratively and are opening up to more normal operations again, especially with regard to visitors from abroad. Another common strength is the high standard of golf clubs, golf courses and other golf facilities that are available and accessible to all golfers in the United Arab Emirates. After all, we are all spoiled to be able to participate and support the international professional golf tournaments to which we have access from time to time on our doors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and other Emirates.
Given the ephemeral nature of many ex-pat golfers in Al Ain, one challenge we all face as the golf industry is our mission to develop the game of golf in the country. Together with other golf clubs in the United Arab Emirates, we work with the EGF and, with their support, offer introductions to golf and lessons for local Emirates. Before last season we also added local schools to the club, which hopefully will start again in the near future. I am sure that with all the work that the EGF is doing, with this encouragement and other initiatives of this kind, we will really see a steady increase in the number of local people playing golf in the years to come.