With the Faldo Series next month, and the inclusion of Bahrain in the Race to Dubai from next year, golf in the kingdom is about to become massive
Time Out Bahrain staff
Next month marks the second year of the Faldo Series Middle East Championship being held in Bahrain. An event aimed at teenagers (players need to be between 12 and 21), the series is one of the major global golfing machines, harnessing interest in the sport and churning out numerous future champions. However, with Arab players totally underrepresented in the sport, Isa Al Borshaid has used his captaincy of Bahrain’s biggest and most prestigious golf club to kick start a Junior Golf Development Fund. We caught up with him to find out more. How did the idea for the Junior Golf Development Fund come about? I became the captain at the beginning of this year and my own kids play golf. I’ve seen what the sport does to the kids and their personality: Dhari, my older boy is 17, and he started when he was 13, before then he hated it and was football crazy; he was quite a late starter to the sport. Before that he was a shy boy, very introverted. Since he picked up the game, as the sport exposes you to all sorts of personalities and age groups, I’ve seen such a change in personality. He’s become so confident. And then I started to notice that he became more focused in his studies, general attitude and he became more mature; and the more I looked at him the more I liked what it had done to him. The alternative to sport is Playstation or hanging around the malls. I thought we could get other kids into this game and see a positive outcome for all of them. So it’s a scheme to get youngsters into golf, but how does it work? Is it a fund? It has been created by donations from corporations and individuals to introduce the game to kids. It gives them a taste of the game and offers them the opportunity for some free lessons, gets them some equipment to use and finally introduces them into a programme if they enjoy it and pick it up, all paid for by the programme.
Are you targeting less privileged children? The programme will go to schools and introduce the game to kids and invite them to have a taste. If they like it then they can take it further. We have not set it for anyone in particular; we want all children to be given the opportunity to try it, no matter what their financial background is.
Golf has yet to make its mark in Bahrain. Why is this? It’s all about the lack of exposure. We don’t have the sort of press and coverage that a number of other sports get. Most people when asked about taking up golf think of it as a sport for the rich or for the expatriates. I am hoping to change this with my programme.
So with any luck, a Bahraini golfer will break onto the global scene in the near future? I think it’s possible for a Bahraini to get on the European tour. With this programme we have a number of kids that want to be pros, once they have their education then they can try all they want, but in my view, education is the most important.
Are the upcoming events a crucial tool for moving your scheme forward? How will the Faldo Series, for example, aid your cause? It brings big names in the world of golf to our country and offers us the exposure that we need. It will hopefully get more kids interested in the sport and also gives us more incentives to offer future donors. It is also a fantastic way for our youngsters to see some players from other nations in the region and get an idea of how much work they have to do to become the best.
So how can individuals and corporations donate to the fund? They can call the club, contact any staff or talk to any of our pro’s about the scheme.
The Faldo Series Middle East Championship will be held between October 8 and 9 at the Royal Golf Club. The deadline for entries is Monday September 27. Entry forms can be found online at www.theroyalgolfclub.com. For more information, call 17 750 777.
Race to Dubai
One of the world’s most prestigious golfing series, The Race to Dubai, will be adding Bahrain to its schedule from January next year. We tell you what to expect from one of the kingdom’s biggest ever sporting events
What is it? The most financially rewarding golf competition in the world, spanning the entire season, competitors accumulate winnings across the year in order to finish high enough to play in the season ending finale: the Dubai World Championship.
Why is it important? Having replaced the European Tour Order of Merit, all of Europe’s top players will be competing for large cash prizes.
Who can we expect to see? Last year’s winner Lee Westwood will be a hot favourite, with competition from the likes of Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Ernie Els and this year’s current leader Graeme McDowell.
When is it happening? The tour is coming to the Royal Golf Club in January 2011, where it will be one of the opening competitions of the season. As Bahrain is hosting this event for the very first time, it is expected to attract a large and competitive field of players.