Egypt is looking for a huge boost in the number of golfers travelling with golf teaching pros and using the country for winter holiday training. It is targeting the sector following ringing endorsements by touring professionals for the excellence of its courses and the superb practice and academy facilities both in Cairo and on the Red Sea.
With guaranteed sunshine, an unhurried approach and top-draw facilities, Egypt has long been a popular destination for groups of golfers travelling there for a golf holiday with a teaching pro. On the back of hugely-successful winter events for satellite tours of the PGA European Tour’s Challenge Tour, Golf Travel Egypt’s Mohammed Attallah says that hosting teaching pros and their students is an area where Egypt wants to become a real leader in Europe.
Attallah, Golf Business Development Director of the private sector initiative that is backed by the Egyptian Tourism Authority and the Egyptian Golf Federation and endorsed by the international golf tourism industry body, IAGTO, points to comments made by some of the pros who have enthused about Egypt after recently playing in tour events there. He also highlights the fact that Egypt offers “the best possible conditions where teaching pros have everything they need to develop the relationship with their golf club members in the winter months.”
IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton concurs, adding that one of the findings of IAGTO’s Golf Tourism Audit in 2011 was that Egypt’s courses were blessed with excellent practice facilities, one example being Madinat Makadi, which has extra par 3, 4 and 5 holes just for tuition. “Another example would be the state of the art academy facilities at The Allegria Golf club and Katameya Dunes, where golfers have access to facilities such as K Vest Biomechanics software and analysis, Flightscope and Sam Putting Lab on site”.
Walton continued: “Destinations aiming to attract teaching pro-led groups need to be able to offer an experience that is comfortable in a relaxing environment and where the golfers do not feel under pressure on the course. Egypt has the capacity on its golf courses to provide exactly this with established resort destinations on the Red Sea and the option to mix up golf, tuition and sightseeing by combining the Red Sea with Cairo.”
Egypt is also stepping up opportunities for touring golf professionals with a new tournament series in February and March.
The country already hosts several events for up-and-coming professional golfers on the Pro Golf Tour and Alps Tour circuits, both of which are regional satellite tours of the PGA European Tour’s Challenge Tour. Now it has launched a home-grown tour taking place solely in Egypt – the Mediterranean Tour.
Created as part of the Golf in Egypt initiative, which is aimed at developing golf locally and establishing Egypt as an international golf destination, the Mediterranean Tour features a series of three 54-hole tournaments played on consecutive weeks over The Allegria (by Greg Norman), Palm Hills (Nicklaus Design) and Katameya Dunes (Nick Faldo) courses in Cairo between February 28 and March 20.
The minimum prize fund for each event is 30,000 euros. The final has a fixed prize fund of 55,000 euros. The tournament is restricted to a maximum field of 144 players but any professional is eligible to participate and there is no qualifying required. The tournaments are also open to amateurs with a handicap of 2 or lower. For more information on the Mediterranean Tour, visit www.mediterraneantour2015.com
Mohammed Attallah welcomed the establishment of the Mediterranean Tour, and commented: “Developing a home grown tour in addition to having the established satellite tours will help entice golf professionals to use Egypt as a hub in the winter season.”
Both the Pro Golf Tour and Alps Tour chose Egypt to launch their 2015 tour calendars this winter.
The 2015 Pro Golf Tour season got under way with two tournaments – the Red Sea Egyptian Classic and the Red Sea Ain Sokhna Classic – staged at Ain Sokhna Golf Club on the Red Sea in January. February saw the first tournaments for the Alps Tour in Egypt, with Ain Sokhna Golf Club hosting the Red Sea El Ein Bay Open from February 18-20 and the Red Sea Little Venice Open from February 24-26 opening the Alps Tour 2015 calendar, the final event for the Alps Tour’s “Egypt Swing” being the Dreamland Pyramids Open, staged at Dreamland Golf Club in Cairo from March 2-4.
After sealing victory in the Pro Golf Tour’s 2015 Red Sea Egyptian Classic with a 10 under par total, Dutch golf pro Reinier Saxton said: “It’s simply great fun to play golf in this superb weather. The course is in a good condition, the greens are very fast. These are the best greens we get to play on all year.”
Scotland’s Ross Cameron, runner-up at the Red Sea Egyptian Classic, endorsed that and added: “Playing conditions are excellent, practice facilities are world class. Egypt provides an ideal place to start the season early and get some much needed practice with conditions the way they are back home.”
English golf pro Jason Palmer, runner-up in the Alps Tour’s 2014 Red Sea Little Venice Open and currently on the European Tour, described the hospitality in Egypt as “fantastic” and added: “Egypt is such an awesome place. The Pyramids are just breathtaking. The weather is great in February, and I am so impressed with the level of the practice facilities and course conditions. It is absolutely fantastic to be able to play such great golf courses at this time of the year.