Robbie Williams is ready to lead the MENA Tour to new heights after recently being named as the General Manager the region’s home Tour. The charismatic Englishman, who is both a gifted footballer and golfer himself, has replaced Trevor Vari at the helm and is excited to set out on his mission of helping the Mena Tour fulfil its potential. With up and coming young local stars like Josh Hill and Arjun Gupta on the scene as well as an array of talent from across the globe, attracted by the World Ranking Points available and vastly increased prize funds, the future looks bright. Worldwide Golf’s Scott Grayston spoke to the fresh-faced 26 year old, who is the son of charismatic Emirates Golf Club pro James Williams, about the new role and the plans he has for the Tour.
Worldwide Golf: Congratulations with the new role Robbie. What can we expect from the MENA Tour this upcoming season?
Robbie Williams: Thanks. I’ve been involved with the MENA Tour since 2014 and am excited to lead the Tour forward with David Spencer and Mohammed Buamim’s input. There are significant changes being made to the prize funds and the destinations that will host Tour events. We’ve been working hard on the plans for this upcoming season so hopefully it will be a huge success.
WWG: When does the MENA Tour season commence and where are the events?
RW: Our season will start at the end of January and take us through to the end of March with five tournaments. Then from the beginning of October to the end of November, there will be five tournaments as well and all the events will be in the MENA region. We feel we need to concentrate on this region because the Tour is headquartered here so it makes sense to stay close to home with the tournaments.
WWG: What will the new-look Mena Tour do to fulfil the original vision of helping create more home-grown players as well as give opportunities to talented locally based players such as Josh Hill and Arjun Gupta?
RW: The original vision of the Tour is still very much at the heart of what we are trying to do with the re-launch of the Tour. With all tournaments in 2019 set to be staged within the region, the Tour really will be on the local players’ doorsteps. Furthermore, with the Tour offering World Amateur Golf Ranking points, we’re providing a pathway for amateur players from the region, local or expatriate, to develop and test their games against the professionals, while accumulating WAGR points enabling them gain entry into elite amateur tournaments.
I’ve spoken with both Josh and Arjun in recent months and it’s great to hear from them that they see their next progression is to compete consistently on the Tour. They’ve both witnessed the opportunities the Tour has brought to Rayhan Thomas (having been unranked when he first joined the Tour, to at one stage climbing as high as 13) and we’re very keen to continue to provide a platform for them and other players from the region to develop.
WWG: How much have the prize funds increased?
RW: Last year the prize funds were $30,000 and $50,000 so the players will appreciate that these have hiked up to $75,000 and $100,000.
WWG: What would be the five-year plan for the Tour?
RW: We now have a clear vision on how we see the Tour progressing. I’d like to see an increase in the number of tournaments from 10 to 15-18 because I think that’s the perfect amount. We don’t want to be a Tour that plays 32 weeks a year but we know how many tournaments we’d like to increase to and the timeframe it would take out of a player’s schedule. I also think there’s more we can do with grass-roots initiatives. I’d be keen to implement that in the coming years to help the Tour going forward.
WWG: Will we be seeing you competing at some stage?
RW: I think my golf game is a long way off that! I play with the guys on Tour now and again and they hit it much longer and straighter than I do so you certainly won’t see me teeing it up any time soon!
The Tour’s schedule will be adjusted to ensure it doesn’t clash with other qualifying schools and other Feeder Tours.
The Qualifying School and five tournaments will take place in late-January to early-April 2019, and a further five tournaments will take place between mid-October and late-December 2019.
The 60 leading players from the 2017 OOM will automatically qualify for their new Tour Card.
Prize funds will be increased $75,000 for seven tournaments, and three others will carry a $100,000 prize fund.
The Tour will revert to staging tournaments predominately in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
New corporate partners are on board that are passionate about the development and progression of the Tour. These partners include a Tour Title Partner and a Destination Partner, among others.
Check out www.menagolftour.com for more info about the Mena Tour.