Start the Countdown to the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships in the United Arab Emirates

December 13th, 2020

Official Announcement / Countdown to the 2023 WATC

On October 23, 2020, the International Golf Federation (IGF) held its Biennial Meeting in Switzerland over a virtual broadcast. During this meeting the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) a member of the IGF since 2000 was elected to host the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) on the Jumeriah Golf Estates Fire Course. The WATC is conducted by the IGF, where the IGF members (World National Golf Federations) enter one women’s team and one men’s team, made up of three (3) amateur golfers, to compete for the Espirito Santo Trophy (Ladies Championship) and the Eisenhower Trophy (Men’s Championship). While all eyes are on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the European Tour’s Race to Dubai – DP World Tour Championship, the EGF would like to officially announce the countdown to the 2023 WATC. Starting from the final round of the 2020 DP World Tour Championship, December 13th, 2020, there are 1,036 days until the 2023 WATC starting on October 15th, 2023. The championships will bring worldwide attention to Dubai while generating a significant economic impact on the country. Over 70 different countries with more than 350 competitors will be making the UAE their home for a couple of weeks. Let the countdown begin.

Quote from His Excellency Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi – Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation.

His Excellency Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi

“It is an honor to be hosting the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships in the UAE. Being selected by our fellow members of the International Golf Federation is a major responsibility and the Emirates Golf Federation is looking forward to welcoming all delegations, governing bodies, and players to the UAE. Hosting the championships in the UAE and the Middle East shows the development of golf within the region. This is not only an accomplishment for the EGF but also for our brothers and sisters within the Arab Golf Community. Collaborating with the Arab Golf Federation we hope that this championship gives the Middle East the platform to showcase the region’s successes and developments.

We are looking forward to working with the International Golf Federation, the world’s golf federations, and our local partners in order to make the 2023 WATC a victory for all in amateur golf.”

EGF / UAE Golf Development

The Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) in collaboration with The R&A has seen golf in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rapidly transform and develop since the founding of the EGF in 1995. From hosting The R&A at sanctioned golf referee schools & seminars to working together on junior golf initiatives, and teaming up on amateur events, The R&A has always had a major influence on the EGF and UAE Golf Development.

Over the past six years, the EGF and UAE’s golf development has hit full stride as the National Junior Development Program (NJDP) is proving to be a success. The NJDP is aimed to identify and develop young UAE National golfers while building good character through the structure of the rules from the game of golf. The EGF works closely with the Ministry of Education in order to reach local schools and physical education (PE) programs to push awareness for the NJDP. By developing a golf PE curriculum in UAE schools and bringing young students to the UAE golf courses the EGF feels that interest in the sport and golf skills can be developed at an early age. Having a successful development program will transfer to a successful UAE National Team.

With golf growing in the UAE and having the opportunity to host events like the World Amateur Team Championships this will provide a stage for greater development in the region. Hard work, proper training, and repeated exposure to international tournaments such as the WATC will be the main ingredients to making successful golfers.

In 2020 the EGF introduced the game of golf to 30 different schools and PE curriculums, utilized 8 different golf clubs across the entire UAE in order to run this program, the EGF saw over 500 students in just over 6 months.

Ladies Golf in the UAE / UAE National Ladies Program

Khowalr School in Ras al Khaimah at Al Hamra Golf Club

Ladies Golf in the UAE continues to be on the top of the Emirates Golf Federation’s agenda and following in line with The R&A’s ‘Women In Golf’ and #FOREeveryone initiatives the EGF is proud of the movements made in the area of the game.

The EGF has found that women’s sports can sometimes take a back seat but the EGF is proud to a be frontrunner in developing ladies golf within the region. In 2019, the EGF hired a full-time Ladies National Team Coach and since then the program has tripled in size. Using the National Junior Development Program as a foundation to introduce the game of golf to young ladies has been successful. This program is introducing the game to the younger female generation while giving some girls the opportunity to play sport for the first time. Unfortunately, the UAE has not had a lady’s team compete for the WATC – Espirito Santo Trophy but by having the opportunity to host the championship the EGF has a new goal to reach. Producing a lady’s team to compete in the 2023 championship will be a great accomplishment. The EGF is optimistic that holding the championship in the Middle East will inspire other Arab nations to make goals within their own lady programs and ‘Women in Golf’ initiatives.

Quote from International Golf Federation Executive Director Antony Scanlon

International Golf Federation Executive Director Antony Scanlon

“The IGF is very excited about the prospect of holding the World Amateur Team Championships in the United Arab Emirates and the potential impact this will have on men’s and women’s golf throughout the Middle East region. We already have seen tremendous strides being made in the introduction and growth of the game through the diligent efforts of the Emirates Golf Federation and the opportunity to further this development by hosting the WATC really resonated with our member organizations.

“The Fire Course at Jumeriah Golf Estates is an outstanding venue that I know the competitors will truly enjoy. We look forward to working with the EGF to deliver a memorable event and experience for the athletes in 2023.”

UAE Golf Events (Professional & Amateur – Past, Present, & Future)

Since 1989 when the UAE hosted the first Dubai Desert Classic, the first European Tour event to be staged outside European borders, the UAE has been a hub for golf events on both the professional and amateur circuits. Being a central location, having some of the best-golfing facilities in the world, and providing first-class hospitality attached to a top tourism market, the UAE is an ideal destination for all golfers alike. These attributes provide the EGF the best possible platform to host the 2023 World Amateur Team Championships. Below is a list of events hosted in the UAE – Past, Present, & Future.

H.E. Shaihk Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi presenting Rickie Fowler the Falcon Trophy at the 2016 Abu Dhbai HSBC Championship

Professional Events

  • DP World Tour Championship “The Race to Dubai” (Jumeirah Golf Estates – Dubai)
  • OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic (Emirates Golf Club – Dubai)
  • Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship presented by EGA (Abu Dhabi Golf Club – Abu Dhabi)
  • OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic (Emirates Golf Club – Dubai)
  • Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open (Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – Abu Dhabi)
  • Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World (Jumeirah Golf Estates – Dubai)
  • Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final (Al Hamra Golf Club – Ras Al Khaimah)
  • Sharjah Senior Golf Masters presented by Shurooq (Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club – Sharjah)
  • Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final (Al Badia Golf Club – Dubai)

 

Shaihk Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi addressing the teams at the 2015 Nomura Cup at Yas Links Abu Dhabi

Amateur Events

  • Faldo Series Championship (Al Ain Equestrian Shooting & Golf Club – Al Ain)
  • EGF Order of Merit Championship (UAE)
  • Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship (Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – Abu Dhabi)
  • 2015 Nomura Cup – Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation Team Championship (Yas Links Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi)
  • Pan Arab Golf Championship (2009)
  • Junior & Ladies Pan Arab Golf Championship (2004, 2015)
  • GCC Golf Championship (1996, 1999, 2004, 2012)
  • Junior GCC Golf Championship (2004, 2012)

UAE Players & Achievements (Professional & Amateur)

Regional golf bodies, Arab Golf Federation, and GCC Golf Committee have actively promoted competitive golf by hosting annual golf championships for member countries – 39 editions of Arab Golf Championships and 23 editions of GCC Championships has been the foundation of competition for the Middle East.

Prominent UAE National Golfers that paved the way started with Ismail Sharif, Khalid Al Halyan, Rashid & Mohammed Al Abbar, Mohammed Juma Buamim, Walid Al Attar, Abdulla Obaidulla amongst others. Following these footsteps, the first UAE golfer to turn professional was Ahmed Al Musharrekh. Now leading the way for the UAE National Golf Teams are Khalid Yousuf, Ahmad Skaik, Saif Thabet, for the men’s team, and Reema Al Heloo and Alia Al Emadi for the lady’s team. Khalid Yousuf holds the World Amateur Team Championship record with the most appearances.

In addition to seeing local player development, the Resident UAE amateurs have seen some major success. Leading the way is Sebastian Heisele who is the first product of the UAE to win on the European Tour. Additional pros include Ross Bain, Simon Dunn, and Matt Turner. Matt, a product of EGF’s Junior Development Program (JDP), was the first amateur to make the cut in Dubai Desert Classic (2009). Rayhan Thomas, another JDP prodigy, repeated the feat by making the cut in 2017 and is currently playing college golf at Oklahoma State University. Current young amateurs showing talent include Josh Hills, Toby Bishop, and Arjun Gupta. On the lady’s side, Alison Muirhead played her junior golf in the UAE and is currently in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour. While Natalii Gupta and Hyeonji Kang are the young amateurs making their names known.

 

Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World  on Fire Course – Jumeirah Golf Estates

In December of 2020, the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World was played on the Fire course at Jumeirah Golf Estates with Antoine Rozner claiming his maiden European Tour title by two strokes. This is the same course that the Emirates Golf Federation presented to the International Golf Federation and its members for the 2023 World Amateur Team Championship (WATC) bid. This event builds on the long-term relationship the European Tour has with Dubai and forms part of a double-header with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. The Golf in Dubai Championship gave the opportunity for the world to see a major event being played on the same course for the 2023 WATC.

Ahmad Skaik on the 1st Tee ready to hit the first shot of the Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World with his father Akram Skaik (right) and EGF Vice Chairman Adel Zarouni (left).

During the Golf in Dubai Championship UAE National Team Player, Ahmad Skaik had the opportunity to play against some of the best players on the European Tour. Skaik gained a great deal of experience from this opportunity and will look to continue to develop his game ahead of the 2023 WATC.

What’s next? The Road to the 2023 WATC

 

During the first quarter of 2021, the Emirates Golf Federation will work with local partners and the International Golf Federation in order to form an events committee. This committee will meet regularly over the next 1,036 days in order to create a championship that the world will remember. This is an exciting time for the UAE and Middle East golf. The development of amateur golf has always been a pillar of the Emirates Golf Federation and using the WATC as a springboard to continue that development is an opportunity of a lifetime.