UAE Challenge Tour double-header helping develop homegrown players


Abu Dhabi, UAE: Akram Skaik, Director General at the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), has expressed the importance of the partnership between the European Tour group and the EGF in helping develop UAE players, with the EGF set to receive 60 invites across two Challenge Tour events in Abu Dhabi this month.

Joshua Grenville-Wood in action at last month’s Delhi Challenge

The UAE’s golf stars are set to compete with a plethora of the game’s rising talents and DP World Tour winners when the Abu Dhabi Challenge (April 18-21) returns for its second edition next week at Al Ain, Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, before Saadiyat Beach Golf Club completes the double-header when hosting the UAE Challenge from April 25-28.

As part of the European Tour group’s long-term partnership with the EGF, which aims to develop golf in the UAE for at least the next decade, each tournament will allocate 30 invites to the EGF to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for UAE golfers.

A whole host of the UAE’s homegrown players featured across the two events last season, including the country’s No.1 amateur golfer Ahmad Skaik, his brother Mohammad, as well as fellow UAE Nationals Khalifa Al Masaood, Rashid Al Jassmy, Rashed Al Emadi, and the UAE’s first ever professional golfer Ahmed Al Musharrekh.

In addition to the UAE Nationals, several UAE residents were also given the opportunity to compete, with local golf coach Louis Gaughan securing his spot by winning the Emirates PGA Championship and Joshua Grenville-Wood selected as an invitee to both tournaments, where he finished in a share of second and 18th respectively.

“This is the second year of the Challenge Tour double header in Abu Dhabi,” said Akram Skaik, Director General at the Emirates Golf Federation.

“It’s such a good opportunity for us as a federation as we get 30 invites into each event, which allows us to give our players the opportunity to play in these elite tournaments.”

As well as giving local players vital experience of playing world class tournaments in Abu Dhabi, the EGF are able to swap some of their allocation with other international federations to allow UAE players to compete in other Challenge Tour events around the world, as well as Ladies European Tour (LET) tournaments for the country’s leading female talents.

Both Ahmad Skaik and Grenville-Wood used these to their advantage last season, with Skaik competing in four further Challenge Tour events, while Grenville-Wood, who was awarded the opportunity to represent the UAE last year, played in an additional ten tournaments on the 2023 Road to Mallorca.

Before a ball has even been struck at this year’s Challenge Tour double-header in the UAE, the EGF has already been busy exchanging invites with international federations.

Grenville-Wood came close to a first win on the Challenge Tour last month at the Delhi Challenge, finishing in a share of second at Classic Golf & Country Club after the EGF traded one of their invitations with the Indian Golf Union.

“This year, we’ve exchanged spots with around seven federations across the world and we’ve also given several LET spots to our girls,” added Skaik.

“We’re using our full allocation to support our players – it’s a great opportunity for us.

“It allows players to experience different events and courses all over the world. The courses we have here in the UAE are quite open, whereas in Europe they have narrow fairways and forests around the course.

“Last year was a bit of an experimental year for us with exchanging our invites with other federations, but this year we have handpicked the events we want our players to go and play.

“I don’t think any other federation has the opportunity that we have. It’s a great initiative.”

Freddie Schmeisser, Head of Championships, DP World Tour Middle East, added:

“Thirty invites into each tournament are available for the EGF and they can also trade these with other federations around the globe, giving UAE players the opportunity to compete in the likes of France, Germany and Italy on the Road to Mallorca schedule.

“The EGF are our partners, and we want to help them grow the game. We’re very proud to be in the UAE and of course we want to give back to the local golf community. A long-term goal for both of us is to see a player from the UAE compete at the Olympics.”

Golf fans are encouraged to come along to both events, which are supported by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Arena, Phoenix Capital and Al Laith to see Skaik, Grenville-Wood and the stars of tomorrow in action with entry free of charge and no ticket required.