12 Dec 2022

The Els Club – Find out why Tom Rourke and his team are leading the way in Dubai

The Els Club Dubai has solidified its place as one of Dubai’s elite golfing destinations after being crowned ‘Dubai’s Best Golf Course’ at last month’s World Golf Awards Ceremony.

This marks the first time the Ernie Els-designed track has received the award at the star-studded event, which rewards excellence in golf tourism and recognises world-class courses and golf destinations, much to the delight of General Manager Tom Rourke, who has overseen a raft of enhancements since taking up his position in July 2020.

We caught up with Tom to get his thoughts on winning the award, how the club are dealing with the increase in visitors during the FIFA World Cup and what’s next for The Els Club.

Congratulations on winning ‘Dubai’s Best Golf Course’ at the World Golf Awards Gala Ceremony last month. How proud are you of the whole team at The Els Club to be recognised in this manner?

We are so proud to have been recognized with the prestigious award of Dubai’s Best Golf Course at the 9th Annual World Golf Awards last month.  It is a fantastic achievement to win this award at The Els Club, Dubai Sports City managed by Troon Golf for the first time competing against so many other prestigious golf courses.  Our team works incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure that every golfer has a very positive and memorable experience on our pristine golf course.  The attention to detail at The Els Club is second to none, our Superintendent – Alex McDowell and his team work tirelessly to maintain the golf course to an incredibly high standard all year round. 

The dedication to continually improve the playing experience for all levels of golfer is at the forefront of everything that the team do.  The course has always had a fantastic reputation for its course condition and over the last 12 months we have made many enhancements to take this to the next level.  This has included purchasing a considerable amount of new state of the art agronomy equipment, new Club Car golf cart fleet, practice facility shading and surface enhancements, detailed analysis to improve the irrigation system to have the golf course playing firmer and faster as per the original design from Ernie Els as an inland links course design, clearing out and refreshing all landscaping areas and conducting a full review of everything that we do. We are incredibly proud of the entire Els Club team winning this award recognising their hard work, passion, and consistency. 

Can you give us an insight into the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to get the course in such pristine condition?

Ernie Els with his design and construction team working alongside Troon Golf have delivered an incredible golf course design and destination.  The contours, green shapes and overall layout is superb with every hole having its own character.  The infrastructure behind the scenes with the course having its own water treatment plant to irrigate the golf course, careful consideration in sustainability measures and guest journey plays a massive part in setting The Els Club as Dubai’s Best Golf Course.  The agronomy teams dedication, knowledge, attention to detail and incredible work ethic that often does its job behind the scenes with little fanfare. The team works from early morning until late in the afternoon to keep each and every hole, practice facilities, landscaping areas in the best condition possible. Our associates at the course take huge pride in their work and always look at the course through the eyes of those who are playing it. They know that golfers want perfect conditions all year round from when they arrive to putting out on the final green, and they do everything they can to make that happen. It’s not an easy job, but it’s one that our team takes a lot of pride in.

Has the club received a message from Ernie on winning the award?

“Congrats to everyone at The Els Club, Dubai voted ‘Best Golf Course in Dubai’ at the 9th World Golf Awards this week. A fantastic team effort! Keep up the great work everyone” – Ernie Els

It was so motivating and inspirational to see a message coming from the legend himself, Ernie Els. This just goes to show that no matter how big or small your dreams are, if you have the passion and determination to pursue them, you will achieve great things. We all aspire to be like Ernie Els one day, and his message is a great reminder of what it takes to be successful. Thank you, Ernie, for your kind words and support!

We can imagine the course has been quite busy over the last month or so with many fans out in Dubai for the FIFA World Cup – what are current course conditions like and what challenges do you face when you are so busy?

There is no doubt that Dubai is the perfect location for both residents and visiting football fans to enjoy the FIFA World Cup. The close proximity to Qatar makes it the ideal base from which to fly over and support your favourite team, and with the excellent football coverage and fantastic winter climate, Dubai is the perfect place to watch all the action unfold.

The Els Club has been very busy over the past few months with additional tourists visiting to play golf and to enjoy watching the FIFA World Cup.  We do however always prioritise our members reserving peak times in advance for the golf course for members to utilise, seating in the clubhouse and a private members only area at the practice facilities.  At The Els Club or priority as a team is always members come first.

With the World Cup continuing this month what do the Els Club have to offer fans who want to watch the games?

We have 2 large high definition LED screens as part of our outdoor terrace area along with an impressive array of large indoor television screens, making us the perfect place to catch all the action. Our friendly and efficient team of associates will be on hand to make sure you enjoy a fantastic experience and timely service, whether you’re part of a group or simply enjoying the atmosphere with family and friends. And of course, no watching experience would be complete without great food! Our menu offers something for everyone, from sharing platters and kid’s meals to international cuisine and healthy options. So whether you’re cheering on your favourite team or taking in the stunning views of Dubai’s BEST Golf Course, come join us and enjoy the World Cup in style!

You’ve also got the Country Club at The Els Club which has been open around 18 months – has it enjoyed the success you hoped?

The Country Club has been a fantastic addition to The Els Club destination and a huge enhancement to the members’ offering. The state-of-the-art facility is the best in class, creating a family friendly, safe environment for all of our members and guests to enjoy the club beyond the golf course. We have received great support from the surrounding Dubai Sports City community with non-golfers choosing to join The Country Club to train and relax. The membership has been fast-growing and this has helped generate considerably more new golf membership sales on the basis of having The Country Club facilities included as part of the golf membership.

When you join The Country Club, you’re not just signing up for access to world-class facilities and amenities, you’re becoming part of a community. Whether you’re looking to improve your golf game, get fit and healthy with our expert team from VITA, or just relax and socialize, there’s something for everyone at The Country Club. With such a wide range of activities on offer, it’s no wonder that membership is growing so quickly!

Finally, what other happenings do you have going on away from the course over the next few months that we should be aware of?

We’re extremely excited to be opening our first two holiday home hotel rooms at The Els Club in the coming weeks and introducing our Stay & Play packages. We will also be conducting major restaurant upgrades and refurbishments at our all day dining restaurant “261”.  This will be a major enhancement to the dining experience for golfers and surrounding residents.  We continue to review and update menus to deliver something for everyone to enjoy and my personal favourite our Saturday Carvery at The Big Easy and I can’t wait for everyone to try it! With these new additions, we strive to provide an even better experience for our members and guests.

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