Golfing legend and world-renowned course designer Greg Norman has offered his best wishes for the forthcoming NBO Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf, Muscat, on February 15-18. The course has played host to the European Challenge Tour over the past five years, the last three years as the season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, with the top 15 players on the Road to Oman Rankings earning their playing privileges to play on the following year’s European Tour International Schedule.
The Great White Shark heralded the introduction of a new European Tour event in the Middle East as another milestone in the global journey of the game. “I’m pleased that the European Tour has chosen the magnificent course I designed at Muscat to host another event in the region and I’m pleased with the recognition my layout has received from the Challenge Tour players over the last five years,” said the two-time Major champion and former World No.1.
Norman, who has designed numerous Championship courses around the world, including the Ayla course at Aqaba, Jordan, and the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, host to the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship, the final event in the season-long Race to Dubai, described his Muscat creation as: “One of the finest golf courses I have ever produced anywhere in the world.”
The Great White Shark made several visits to the spectacular course on the shores of the Gulf of Oman, fine-tuning each of the 18 holes before the opening of the course in 2012. The Australian, winner of two Open Championships and 91 tournaments worldwide commented: “The original site was a featureless strip of scrub alongside the Indian Ocean and I was proud that we manage to create such a spectacular, environment-friendly course from very little.
“Being only 15 minutes from Oman International Airport and Muscat City Centre the course could not have been more conveniently positioned and with its spectacular setting alongside the ocean with the Hajeer Mountains in the background, inland it has all the advantages it could wish for.
“When the course was completed I said that I had created a magnificent championship-standard golf course worthy of hosting a prestigious world-class tournament, perhaps a European Tour event, in the near future. Well, my prophesy has come to fruition and I wish the Sultanate of Oman, the National Bank of Oman, the Oman Golf Committee and, of course, the European Tour and the players a memorable tournament.
Norman concluded: “My design philosophy is to begin with the end in mind and I am proud of the magnificent golf course we created. I believe Oman has an exciting future as a golf tourism destination and I am pleased to be playing a part in the Sultanate’s golfing future.
“We want to get as many people in Oman playing golf as we possibly can, and the course will provide the ideal facility for juniors and beginners to discover what a fun sport golf really is. We designed the course in such a way that it can be played by the world’s best players and the average golfer. It’s an enjoyable challenge for all levels of golfer.
“I wish you all the very best of luck with the inaugural NBO Oman Open.”
The NBO Oman Open gets underway at Al Mouj Golf, Muscat on Thursday February 15 and will feature a world-class field including Ryder Cup stars Robert Karlsson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood and Stephen Gallagher along with former Open Champion Paul Lawrie (also a two-time Ryder Cup participant), 2016 Open de Espana winner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion Jeunghun Wang.
Entry to the tournament is free of charge and there will be plenty of activities golf lovers and non-golfers alike with entertainment for all the family. There will be bouncy castles for the children, free golf lessons, and regular shows from the hilarious Trick Shot Boys who have been visiting local schools in Muscat this week to give the children a taste of what to expect from their hilarious and bedazzling shows at the event.