ABU DHABU // Gary Player yesterday said the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, which he designed, should be used as a European Tour venue in the future.
Currently promoting the Saadiyat Beach Classic charity event on January 24, Player used the opportunity to push the course as a potential host for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which will be held next week for the sixth time at the National Course.
Player, who became one of golf's greats during his rivalry with fellow legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, advocates that the Abu Dhabi tournament be shared by courses around the emirate.
Aware of the emergence of Yas Links as a potential venue for the first leg of what has become a four-week Desert Swing, Player is anxious for his own course to be given a piece of the action.
"I really believe that Saadiyat is among the top 10 courses that I have designed," said Player, who has put his signature on more than 200 courses since ending his career as a touring professional.
"It is such a spectacular venue that people want to come to play there, and that includes the players who are performing in Abu Dhabi next week."
Player, who will appear in the charity event along with Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Colin Mongomerie and others, was less than complimentary to Abu Dhabi's current European Tour venue.
"I don't want to be derogatory, but the golf course that they have at the moment needs to be uplifted if they want to continue to have the tournament there," he said.
"The decision regarding where the event will be held in future years is not for me to make."
Instrumental in that decision is Faisal al Sheikh, the head of the major events division of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. He expressed satisfaction with the National Course.
"To have so much golf action in eight days at three different clubs boosts the reputation of this emirate as a golfing destination," said al Faisal, referring also to Monday's Emirates Airline Invitational at Yas.
"Abu Dhabi Golf Club has been the home for the Tour event for the last five years and it is the most mature of our courses.
"But seeing Saadiyat in the condition it is today and the emergence of Yas gives us a lot of options. Next year we well decide where we will be but we have three good alternatives.
"From a tourism point of view, we would love to stage the tournament at three different courses. When all of those courses are ready, we will do so."
When: Monday, January 24
Where: Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Who: Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie, Matteo Manassero are among the professionals who will play alongside notable celebrities
Format: Teams of four in scramble