For years there has been a demand for more alignment among golf clubs in the UAE and now visiting and resident golfers in Abu Dhabi will benefit from consistency of service and quality across the triumvirate of clubs. With great membership deals and a fantastic new centralised booking system, which allows players to compare and book the best rates across the three, Troon is enthusiastic about the future of golf in Abu Dhabi.
Worldwide Golf caught up with new Cluster General Manager Francisco de Lancastre David, who is overseeing all three clubs, to discuss his first few months in charge and find out about how the new ‘big three’ tie up will work.
Worldwide Golf: Give us your thoughts on the first few months in charge and what have been the most exciting (and if appropriate most challenging) elements of this period?
Francisco de Lancastre David: The first few months have been extremely busy with the exciting announcement of Yas Links Abu Dhabi coming under Troon management alongside Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Working to consolidate all three clubs and making sure they are running to their maximum efficiency with superior standards is a sizeable job, however with a supportive team, and the trust of our owners at Aldar, we have already managed to align the three clubs.
We have been ensuring all three clubs are ready for a notably successful season, with a full calendar of member events and international events, the highlight being the ‘unofficial European Tour season opener’, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, a Rolex Series Event from the 16-19 January 2020. It’s always a great honour to be part of major events, especially with the calibre of events we welcome every year at our facilities.
“Key highlights would include; the expanded benefits that Members can now enjoy across the three facilities. Troon Reward members and Troon Executive Card holders are also now able to take advantage of these fantastic Troon Programs at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, along with the ease of making tee time bookings through the new Cluster Central Reservations Department. Also a new comprehensive destination website will be launched in the next couple of weeks. Lots of exciting and encouraging projects that we believe will enhance our member and guest experience.”
WWG: There has been a desire from the golfing community for a number of years to see golf clubs working together throughout the UAE. What benefits to golfers both locally and internationally will Yas Links Abu Dhabi joining the Troon portfolio bring?
FLD: With Yas Links Abu Dhabi joining the portfolio, I believe that local and international golfers will truly benefit from the consolidation with Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. When golfers visit any of the clubs, they will be able to have the same high-quality experience from the moment they walk into the clubhouse to playing the immaculate courses that we so pride ourselves in, a key Troon delivery. Having group roles assists us in maximising our efficiencies and provide consistency across the board whilst being able to provide a more fluent experience to our members and guests throughout our three world-class golf courses. It is important, however, that each golf club retains their identities as each is special in their own way.
WWG: With the above in mind, you’re about to launch a new combined ‘book online’ facility and central reservations. Can you give us an overview of this and how it will benefit local and visiting golfers?
FLD: Golfers will now be able to go online, to our new website, and book multiple rounds across our three courses. We have had the ability to book quickly and easily for over two years with the Troon International App, but now, golfers will be able to check availability and pricing and compare across all three of our golf clubs in Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, our central reservations team will be able to handle bookings for individuals to groups, across all golf clubs and ultimately to book inclusive golf packages.
WWG: How do you think the new agreement with the three clubs will benefit and promote Abu Dhabi as a whole?
FLD: If we combine the three world-class golf courses with the weather, accessibility and the quality of the hotels Abu Dhabi has to offer, we have an extremely strong proposition to any golf traveller. We also shouldn’t forget the amazing entertainment and cultural offering that Abu Dhabi offers; with the likes of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; or the world class theme parks such as Ferrari World or the Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi just to name a few. By having the golf courses aligned and working under the same umbrella, we can really focus on providing a destination to all those that wish to visit us.
WWG: In terms of the spectrum of experience the three clubs offer – what, in your opinion, are the key features and USPs of each of the three clubs?
FLD: We are very fortunate to have three world class facilities under our umbrella and with many USPs, however if I have to name a few; I would say that Abu Dhabi Golf Club with its iconic Falcon Clubhouse, being host venue of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, a Rolex Series event, for so many years and the opportunity for a Night Golf experience would be the main USPs at this facility. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club USPs in my view would be the masterpiece design by golfing legend Gary Player with its stunning beach front views and the opportunity to see the amazing wildlife that blesses Saadiyat Island with gazelles, dolphins and over 150 species of birds.
Yas Links Abu Dhabi being our newest addition to the portfolio also boasts impressive USPs and is consistently voted among the top golf courses in the world by leading golf publications. The signature design along the mangroves by Kyle Philips is a truly spectacular layout that will provide a memorable experience to every golfer that visits. The friendliness of our teams, the quality of our service and the year round world class playing surfaces would all be USPs when you visit one of our clubs in Abu Dhabi.
WWG: What impact do you forecast the joining together of the three clubs will have on each of the three businesses?
FLD: We envision that Troon’s work across all three clubs will help drive the results expected by our ownership, who has been incredibly supportive, and also help to expand our portfolio presence, by providing extraordinary guest and member experiences and by having a passionate dedication to quality, financial performance and development of our associates. This is the key vision and mantra of Troon, and have underpinned our success in the MENA region, something which we will strive to continue with Yas Links Abu Dhabi onboard.
WWG: The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has always been played at ADGC – would you consider in the future circulating it around the three clubs to showcase each of them globally?
FLD: We have not been involved with any discussions to move the European Tour event that we have hosted at Abu Dhabi Golf Club since 2006. However, Abu Dhabi as a destination is always in the forefront of leading sporting events and if we can help deliver Abu Dhabi’s vision to host further golfing events in the region we would of course be delighted and confident that any of our three clubs would be a terrific host venue.