29 Sep 2017

European Tour going from strength to strength in the Middle East – European Tour Director Nick Tarratt

Nick Tarratt has worked in the industry for more than 25 years. As Director of the European Tour, Dubai Office, he has played an integral part in the Tour’s successful expansion in the Middle East. Below, he talks about the exciting future of golf in the region and the Race to Dubai:

Worldwide Golf: This year has been another significant twelve months in the region – are there any further developments expected on the horizon?

Nick Tarratt: This has certainly been a busy 2017 and a great deal of time and effort has been put in preparing for another great season for European Tour activities in the Middle East throughout the 2017-18 season. We are excited to have announced the 2018 European Tour International Schedule with a new Middle East country hosting a full European Tour event, the NBO Oman Golf Classic. The tournament will carry a prize fund of 1.5 million euro. This is a first for the Tour and for the Sultanate of Oman. The tournament has grown from a European Challenge Tour event – the NBO Golf Classic in 2013 and 2014 – followed by the Challenge Tour’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final at Al Mouj Golf, Muscat, in 2015 and 2016, the season-ending tournament on the Road to Oman. In 2018 the tournament becomes a full European Tour event as part of a three-year contract running to 2020. We thank National Bank of Oman for their enhanced support as well as the Oman Oil and Gas Minister HE Dr. Mohammed Al Rumhy and the Minister of Finance for Oman. As well as the NBO initiative there are other changes to the 2018 Calendar.

WG: What else is happening on the various Tours, including on the MENA Golf Tour?

NT: First, we must all congratulate Mohamed Buamaim, Robbie Williams, Trevor Varri and the MENA Golf Tour team for continuing to enhance and widen the reach of the Tour each season. It is now recognised on the International Tours with OWGR points and Official Amateur World Ranking Points. I suggest the next development is to expand the tournaments with, perhaps, a Pro-Am before or after each event. It would be good if they could provide more playing opportunities for the leading MENA Golf Tour players, in addition to the existing relationships with the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour. The European Tour will re-engage with Mohamed and his team and create more of an alliance with the Challenge Tour. The model of development Tours channelling through the Challenge Tour can be brilliantly explained by the journey of Jordan Smith.  Working together in the golf industry is the only way forward, especially in this part of the world. We have a responsibility to make things happen. Two years ago Englishman Jordan Smith from Wiltshire was playing on the EuroPro Tour, which he won in 2015. In 2016 he won in Egypt and went on to win the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge and the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman. This year he has already won the Porsche European Open a couple of months ago and is now placed 70th in the OWGR and 17th in the Race to Dubai with his place in the DP World Tour Championship field already assured. It was great to see Jordan a few weeks ago in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai having some R&R with his girlfriend as part of certain Ras Al Khaimah TDA initiatives.

WG: What other European Tour Initiatives are you working on with your colleagues at both the Wentworth HQ and in the Middle East Office in Dubai?

NT:  In addition to our golf tournaments we either promote or sanction a number of projects, including: European Golf Design projects at Dubai Hills and Emaar South. With European Golf Design and our partnership with IMG we are designing two golf courses under the EMAAR banner in Dubai at Dubai Hills and EMAAR South. The former will be ready for play in the first quarter of 2018 with the latter expected to be completed along with the huge EMAAR South real estate development well before EXPO 2020 and  Jumeirah Golf Estates as a European Tour Destination and home to the European Tour Performance Institute (ETPI). We are proud to be associated with Jumeirah Golf Estates as a European Tour Destination, having hosted all eight editions to date of the DP World Tour Championship. Jumeirah Golf Estates has become the recognised venue for the season-ending tournament and we look forward to this partnership extending well beyond the existing 2020 agreement. If you are not aware, the ETPI is one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world and deserves a visit from Jumeirah Golf Estates members and non-members. Whether you want a quick fix or you want to strip your game back to basics through a season-long plan these are all part of the ETPI experience. They also have all the latest golf technology.

We provide  Partnership Management and client service support for all our Dubai-based European Tour partners and supporters, including DP World, Emirates, Dubai Duty Free, Dubai’s partnership with the Race to Dubai and Jumeirah Golf Estates, alongside Tour Headquarters at Wentworth.

WG: You have worked in the industry in the region for more than 27 years – what changes have you encountered among UAE Nationals and Arab golf?

NT:  It is probably my biggest regret that I, and the industry, have not been able to do more in bringing golf to UAE Nationals, mindful of the fact that the first European Tour event was held at Emirates Golf Club back in 1989. What excites me now is the number of initiatives being launched presently, such as the Foundation Squad being supported by DP World through the Emirates Golf Federation, plus other such programmes through schools in Dubai, the UAE, and the region. We have a UAE National intern who will support the 2017 DP World Tour Championship, Rashid Al Qubaisi from GEMS Wellington School, who plays golf at Jumeirah Golf Estates and practises at the ETPI. He’s eager to pursue his education through a Golf Business degree in either St. Andrews, Scotland, or in Birmingham and to get into the golf industry. Rashid is 17 years old and the European Tour in particular and the golf industry in general will be only too pleased to get right behind Rashid in making his ambitions come to fruition.

“THE UAE and the Middle East has been a vital area for the growth of the European Tour since the inaugural Dubai Desert Classic took place in 1989. The superb climate, golf courses and infrastructure continues to attract some of the world’s best players along with great international golf tournaments. With the addition of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters in 1998 and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2006, plus the DP World Tour Championship in 2009, the region is the highlight of the early stage of each season’s International Tour Schedule and also the finish, with the top 60 players vying for the honour of becoming Race to Dubai Champion.  During those years the area has also staged the season-ending tournament on the European Challenge Tour, along with European Senior Tour events. Now the Challenge Tour Grand Final has graduated to become another full European Tour event – the NBO Oman Golf Classic.” – Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer, the European Tour

WG: You have just received another role within the European Tour – how does that differ from your previous position?

NT: Recently I was appointed Acting General Manager of Jumeirah Golf Estates working alongside Ismail Sharif as Owner’s Representative under our European Tour Properties support of Jumeirah Golf Estates. My role is to assist in the management transition until the end of October with the DP World Tour Championship in November, being on site full time. I hope to add some value in assisting in the annual membership renewals and supporting where and when needed. We all thank Julian Small for all his hard work over the last two years and wish him all the best as he leaves Jumeirah Golf Estates as MD.

2018 European Tour International Schedule – Middle East in focus

  • Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, January 18 – 21
  • Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai,  January 25 – 28
  • NBO Oman Golf Classic, Almouj Golf, Muscat, Oman, February 15 – 18
  • Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Doha Golf Club, February 25 – 28

PLUS: This year’s penultimate event on the Road to Oman – the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge at Al Hamra Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah,  October 25 – 28. From Ras Al Khaimah it is just a one hour flight to Muscat, Oman for the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final played the following week, again with a Saturday finish, where the top 15 players on the season-long Road to Oman will gain their playing privileges to play on the European Tour in 2018.

FINALLY: The season-ending grand final tournament on the Race to Dubai, the DP World Tour Championship, will be held for the 9th time on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 16 – 19. The top 60 players on the Race to Dubai, following the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, finishing on Sunday 12 November, will be making their way to Dubai to compete for the $8 million tournament prize fund and the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool of $5 million distributed to the top 10 players on the season-ending Race to Dubai.

Share this article
Swing Sequence

Wyndham Clark Swing Sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy One of the...

Xander Schauffele swing sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy Xander Schauffele has...

Related articles

Upbeat McIlroy Ready for US Open After Marital Reconciliation

Rory McIlroy’s upbeat mindset ahead of this week’s US Open at...

U.S. Open Preview – Who will claim the year’s third Major?

The third Major of men’s schedule gets underway this month with...

Surviving Summer – How Courses Cope With The Heat

Words: Will Kent Photography: Provided by Stuart & Getty Images The...

Kiaan Keeps On Winning – UAE’s Latest Jnr Star

Photography & words by Will Kent Eight-year-old Kiaan Maharaj has become...

Gaudet rings the changes for women’s golf

Elisa Gaudet, Founder of Women’s Golf Day, talks exclusively to Rick...

Masters Green Jacket Thief Charged

A former warehouse assistant at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia...