DUBAI // Hundreds of amateur golfers will compete for prizes worth more than Dh50,000 this Saturday in one of the biggest charity tournaments the country has seen. Dubai Sports City organised the event to raise money for the Haiti earthquake relief effort. Competitors will tee off at 7am and 1pm at The Els Club in a two-ball better ball format with a BBQ and auction held afterwards to boost the amount that will be given to the UAE Red Crescent.
"The amount of people playing golf in the country is just getting bigger and bigger all the time," said Darren King, sales and marketing manager at The Els Club. "It is not just men - women and children are all playing. What better way to get families together and raise money for Haiti than through a golf tournament? "And this is the best format. The teams swap scorecards so everything is above board and due to the prizes on offer it will be competitive."
Businesses from across the country are supporting the day, which features a charity auction including sporting memorabilia. "Golf is very much tied in with business here and so those with the resources to do so have got involved very quickly," King added yesterday. "Courses are reducing costs and competition between courses means this is becoming a sport that a lot of people in the UAE can afford to take up now so it is the perfect marriage."
A minimum donation of Dh100 is required for entry which will, like all other money taken on the day, be paid into Red Crescent collection box. It could cost up to US$14billion (Dh51.4bn) to rebuild Haiti, which was devastated after a catastrophic earthquake hit the Caribbean country on January 12. Now, more than a month later, aid agencies estimate that numbers of lives lost could top 300,000 as a result of the initial impact as well as the aftermath of the disaster.
King started planning the event the day after the earthquake and said the response from businesses he approached was overwhelming. "Everyone I contacted with the idea was hugely supportive. The immediate response was 'what do you need and how much?'," he said. "Major businesses including Jumeirah, The First Group, Emirates Airlines, MMI, Dubai Property Group, and TECOM Investments are supporting us."
More than 200 amateur golfers will take part in the two-ball better ball format tournament, which gets under way at 7am, while families can attend the twilight barbecue and picnic from 4pm until around 8.30pm. "We'd love to see 1,500 to 2,000 people. We will have bouncy castles for kids, bean bags set up on the grass, live music, barbecues and drinks. People can enjoy the good weather with their family and friends and know they are helping an excellent cause," said King.
"There is a prize for every hole in the golf tournament and after the competition we will hold a charity auction with amazing items up for grabs." Auction items include an acrylic portrait of Ernie Els by artist Mark Edgar Thomas Robinson and a Callaway driver signed by the three-time major winner, signed pictures of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, business class flights and golf accommodation to the UK and the US, box seats to a Springboks game in South Africa hosted by Bryan Habana, box seats to a Manchester United match hosted by Michael Owen and cricket lessons for up to 10 children hosted by Andrew Flintoff.