Golf DXB has a new initiative to encourage more of Dubai residents on to the city’s greens
Dubai has positioned itself as a top class, year-round golfing destination. Perfect conditions in the winter especially for those coming from chillier climes, and in the summertime courses flick on the floodlights for rounds of night golf. But according to co-owners of golf academy Golf DXB, Tom Green and Marcus Dunning, more residents and youngsters should be making the most of the emirate’s acres of golf greens by learning how to play. And you don’t have to have Rory McIlroy’s bank balance, either.
Golf DXB, formerly Grassroots Golf, is based at The Track, Meydan Golf, and aims to teach adults and youngsters how to play in an accessible way. It runs programmes at affordable rates, with group classes from Dhs75 per person. Both Green and Dunning are PGA professionals from the UK. Green moved to Dubai with his family at the age of 15 and is keen to see the future of golf develop in the region. ‘There’s a lack of new golfers in the UAE taking up the game while a lot of courses are being built,’ he says. ‘What we’re trying to do is give people a pathway to golf, at lower rates than those offered at other clubs and golf academies, giving people the opportunity to learn in a fun group environment. We’re all about taking golf to the community.’
Green explains that while all the courses offer private lessons with pros, the key part of what Golf DXB aims to achieve is making school children familiar with golf through their ‘Tee It Up’ taster sessions. The pair will be visiting up to 25 schools in Dubai and Sharjah, giving kids aged five to 16 a free one-hour golf lesson in their PE classes, with the goal of putting golf clubs in the hands of 18,000 children. ‘We hope to improve the relationship between schools and golf clubs. So we can run an inter-school league and show children that golf, like football or other sports, is for everybody.’
Golf does have something of an image problem, in Dubai and internationally. It’s often seen as quite an elitist sport with high membership fees, expensive equipment, lacking in diversity and generally male dominated. But Green and his team want to open up the game to everybody and see Dubai as a place where the image of golf may become far more positive. ‘You’re obviously going to get people in Dubai, because it’s an affluent place, who can afford Dhs500 for a golf lesson, but that only targets five percent of the market, whereas we’re looking to open it up to a lot more people’ says Green. Adding, ‘It’s not just by offering cheap lessons, but also if you follow this programme you can get a handicap and join the Emirates Golf Foundation. We have group sessions for Dhs75 and offers in The Entertainer. There are affordable ways to play if you go to clubs at Meydan, Sharjah, or further afield in RAK. You don’t have to shell out Dhs1,000 to play at The Els Club or the Majlis every weekend.’
Green informs us that Golf DXB is planning to collaborate with Emirates Golf Foundation (EGF) in a bid to establish the sport among young Emiratis. ‘They [EGF] approached us as they’d like to build up their grassroots base level for juniors, so that in ten years’ time there will be a larger, deeper squad of UAE nationals playing the sport.’
While the initiative has lofty aspirations of getting the city hitting birdies on the course, there’s already a plethora of academies and sports programmes all vying for our attention and hard-earned dirhams, so why should golf get more of a look in? Green believes that for sports and social benefits, golf scores a hole-in-one. ‘It is a great sport for developing young people and you have the benefit of being outdoors in a green space, a big plus here. Also it’s so much about honesty, integrity, judgement and concentration. There are so many key life skills that can be developed in golf. As you get older, you’ll find that if you are a golfer, it helps massively for networking and making deep friendships – and you’ll find that anywhere in the world.
Original article: Time Out Dubai