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20 May 2024

Out of the woods

The Tiger Woods Dubai development at the Al Ruwaya Golf Club is looking good (SATISH KUMAR)

By Ahmad Lala

The world's best golfer is still extremely eager to complete his first custom-designed golf course in the world – despite the financial crisis – according to Abdulla Al Gurg, the Project Director of Tiger Woods Dubai.

"The relationship we have with Tiger is beyond monetary compensation," said Al Gurg, who this week gave Dubai's media a tour of the course, which is due to be completed in September this year. "We have a long-term relationship.

"He wouldn't be doing his first ever designed golf course in Dubai just because of monetary reasons. The concept we have given him is an opportunity to take an empty canvas and to design and be as creative as possible.

"Believe me, we cannot put in a tree or pipe without his involvement or that of his design team, who come here every few weeks."

And, according to the project director, not many people realise how much effort the world No1, who has been out of the game with a knee injury since June, is putting into making the Dh4-billion development perfect.

"I have a very good personal relationship with Tiger," said Al Gurg.

"He is a very elegant, honest and a down-to-earth individual, and I enjoy working with him.

"In August when he came here, he walked nine holes with me, with his bad knee, from 5.30 in the morning till 10 – and you know how hot it is in that month.

"We moved a lot of things, like on hole six, there was a bunker next to the stream and he changed that to make it a big shrub island.

"What he usually does on a monthly basis is make a few alterations on the course, the bunker areas or something.

"So it has been a dynamic, construction process approach with Tiger. He is very committed on the project."

And so are Tatweer and Tiger Woods Dubai, says Al Gurg, who reveals they have already appointed a general manager for the 7,829-yard course, par -72 course.

"We will only announce the name of the general manager next week, but by actually appointing one shows you we are committed to finishing this golf course. If we weren't, then we wouldn't be recruiting to go forward."

While the project director promises that Tiger Woods Dubai will do their share in developing the game among locals here, the aim was to keep the club exclusive.

"We have an academy that will help national development and focus on nationalising and growing the game in Dubai."

"We have 1,500 golfers here and we hoping to increase that," said Al Gurg, who also revealed they have began the process of head-hunting some of the course's 500 exclusive members.

"However, we are a very private members club and hence we will not publicise the venue much.

"According to our analysis the course can be sustained by 500 members, because there is inflow of the commitment of those members," adds Al Gurg, who expects some 29,000 rounds of golf to take place at the Al Ruwaya Club annually.