10 Dec 2022

Jenny Hennessy: Middle East is taking giant strides to support ladies golf

Greetings Golfing World. Finally winter has arrived in the United Arab Emirates and it is the perfect temperature for golf!

November was a hugely positive month for ladies golf worldwide. In early November, the Ladies European Tour announced that the Aramco Saudi Ladies International has raised their prize money to $5m next year. This prize purse now equals the prize fund at the men’s PIF Saudi International. What a giant leap in the right direction for women’s golf, with this specific prize fund increasing five-fold since last year. Golf Saudi and Aramco’s collaboration with the Ladies European Tour events has raised the bar for ladies professional golf. Driving the growth of women’s golf at this elite level is crucial. This is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully sponsors of other ladies professional events will follow suit and continue to raise the bar and drive for change.

More excitement in the region this month for ladies golf, Dubai resident Chiara Noja wins in Jeddah. The 16 year old was crowned champion at the recent Ladies European Tour’s ARAMCO Team Series at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Chiara, who is a member at Jumeirah Golf Estates, beat England’s Charley Hull in the play-off. What a win, and what a role model for young golfers in the UAE and worldwide. This is only the start for this extremely talented young lady, the best is yet to come!

The DP World Tour Championship was held at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 17th – 20th. What a showcase of golf! I attended on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’, what a great initiative to increase ladies attendance at a professional golf event. The day was simply amazing, there was a festival vibe from the moment you arrived. Ladies were treated to two complimentary beverages on arrival. There were free ladies golf clinics throughout the day as well as a ‘Best Dressed Competition’.

I was on the judging panel for the ‘Best Dressed’, a new experience for me and a lot of fun! It was great to see so many Chicks With Sticks members enjoying the golf and the occasion. This specific ladies day event showcased the social, glamorous and more appealing sides to golf, aspects of the game that often don’t get enough air- time. It is great to see the DP World Tour making such an effort to grow the game of ladies golf, roll on the Desert Swing in January.

The DP World Tour Championship hosted ‘Family Day’ on the final day of the event. For me this meant I did far less socializing and much more golf watching! The crowds following my golfing hero, Rory McIlroy were amazing. I just love watching Rory play, he is simply magic! Seeing him crowned the Race to Dubai Champion was just the cherry on top, capturing season titles on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. However, it was the stellar Spaniard, Jon Rahm that won the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday by two shots. This was the third DP World Tour Championship victory for Rahm, what an exhibition of golf he provided for the massive crowds that showed up at Jumeirah Golf Estates. General admission tickets were sold out all weekend. A testament to the preparations that went into planning this festival and celebration of golf.

As for my own golfing flock, Chicks With Sticks continues to go from strength to strength in the UAE, there may be plans to expand to the Emerald Isle in Spring 2023’ also, so stay tuned!

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