‘OGC needs to be upgraded for benefit of golf in Oman’
October 4, 2015 | 9:15 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Golf in Oman has been witnessing a steady growth in recent times, thanks mainly to the attention accorded to the sport by the Oman Golf Committee (OGC) under umbrella of the Ministry of Sports Affairs.

The decision of local clubs to turn their brown stretches into lush green courses — and not to forget the success with which the Sultanate has been hosting international championships, has not only caught the imagination of sports-loving Omanis but in a way contributed to a number of young local talents taking to the sport, leading to their international participation with reasonable success.

But, if one has to believe a top golf administrator, more is needed to be done to provide new momentum to the Sultanate’s golf and lead it to all new heights.

Ziyad Al Zubair, a member of Ghala Golf Club and a prominent supporter of golf, stressed the need to upgrade the OGC to national golf association in order to reap the benefits that come with that status and lead to the further growth of the sport.

Al Zubair, himself an avid golfer, opines that forming of a golf association will give the players ‘a wider platform to participate and develop our national team’.

Justifying his comments, Al Zubair said the change is the need of the hour considering the development of golf witnessed in the Sultanate in recent times, especially with regard to the participation and the growing interest in the sport at the local level.

“There has been tremendous growth in the field of golf in Oman, both in terms of clubs and the number of those who practise the sport. More and more young people have been showing interest in golf. And it is the right time to take necessary steps to keep pace with these positive changes,” he said.

Speaking about the main challenges facing golf in Oman, he said: “It is important to establish a good infrastructure as is the case with all sports. However, this should also be complimented by a high level of attention to the preparation of the administrative structure.”

“The development and upgrading of this aspect will give those in charge of the sport an opportunity to participate and excel. That will in turn lead to development of golf and better support for the Omani golfers, who will be capable of representing the Sultanate at the international level,” he added.

Growing fan base

Al Zubair also said that the fan base, involving both Omani citizens and expatriates, has been constantly growing in the Sultanate.

“This gives us further motivation to seek to achieve this ambition and to form the Oman golf association.”

“Based on my experience at Ghala Golf Club, I can say with assurance that the golf is gradually growing at various levels in the Sultanate. It is very important to match this development by restructuring the game management and giving it a new edge by the formation of a national team of young golfers.”

“This will allow Oman golf to take its place on the international level,” he added.

Al Zubair also expressed his desireto make Ghala Golf Club a gateway for Omani golfers and the OGC for further development and promotion of the game.

He also pointed out the outstanding efforts made by the late His Highness Sayyid Qais bin Tariq Al Said and his key role in the development of golf, as well as the role of His Highness Sayyid Taimur bin As’ad Al Said, President of the Ghala Golf Club, who did not spare any efforts in promoting the sport and encouraging its players to participate in the various internal and external events.

He also praised the role of the key supporters of the game, such as Dr Mohammed Al Rumhy, the Minister of Oil and Gas and some of the leading institutions from the private sector.

In terms of the development of Ghala Golf Club and the improvement of its facilities, Al Zubair said: “We are in the process of transforming our club into one with all ultra modern facilities. We are focussing on developing some new facilities, renovation and modernisation of the course and achieving self-sufficiency as a club. And then join efforts with the OGC to integrate the efforts to turn the club into a hub of golf in the Sultanate.

“We are delighted to be working together for the development of golf among young players and to take part along with the OGC to decide the best direction in the development of golf as the OGC is affiliated with the R&A, the governing body of golf.”

New plans

Al Zubair also spoke about a new plan to promote golf among young Omanis through cooperation with the OGC.

“We want to launch an awareness programme for school students. For example we can establish a mobile centre for golf, or rather a vehicle equipped with the proper educational tools and a coach to present golf to as many youths as possible — just like mobile blood banks and mobile libraries that reach public places through mobile centres.

“We can also establish promotional activities in shopping centers and public parks. The idea is to reach a large number of Omanis and introduce them to this wonderful sport.”

Speaking about hosting of international tournaments, Al Zubair praised the success of the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic which has grown over the past few years to become the grand finale of the European Challenge Tour.

“The green golf courses in Ghala, Almouj, Muscat Hills and Ras Al Hamra will enhance the Sultanate’s chances to host first class competitions. The OGC has hosted MENA tour (Middle East and North Africa) and the GCC Championships at Ghala Club Golf. We encourage them to continue to host and promote such events in the future,” he said.

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