ABU DHABI // You would expect the general manager of Abu Dhabi Golf Club to bristle at the suggestion the new, ambitious neighbours on Saadiyat and Yas islands are looking up to take away the European Tour championship event from his National Course. On the contrary, Ken Kosak welcomes newcomers "with open arms" and believes their arrival as tournament venues can only enhance the reputation of the UAE capital as a golfing destination.
Kosak, a former PGA Tour player who recently looked after the Pearl Valley Estates, venue for the co-sanctioned South African Open, moved to Abu Dhabi last year from the Montgomerie Club in Dubai. The American sensed that the leading clubs in Dubai were fiercely territorial and determined to hold on to any ground they had gained. He is keen to prevent similar rivalry developing in the capital. "There is competition now and we welcome that. Saadiyat is certainly in the frame to host the European tournament but I don't see that as a threat to us in any way," he said. "Being the only game in town was not necessarily great for golf in Abu Dhabi. It was great for our club but not necessarily for the emirate as a tourist destination. Providing more options is a fantastic step forward.
"Yas and Saadiyat will help us create a trio of golf facilities which in my mind is going to be the best in the Middle East. That should be welcomed with open arms in terms of helping Abu Dhabi prosper as a tourist destination. This hasn't necessarily been embraced in other parts of the UAE as it should have been. You spend so much time competing with your next door neighbours that you lose sight of the fact that there can be strength in numbers in terms of marketing and sharing of resources."
The immediate future for professional golf in the capital, however, is at the National and Kosak cannot wait to host the visiting players and officials from the European Tour this weekend. "We have had a few official visits and the Tour were extremely pleased with our preparations. We rely heavily on their guidance. "We are a smooth ship. We just have to prepare that ship for sailing. They suggested making minor alterations to the course, mainly in terms of how much rough we let grow, and we've carried out those requests," he said.