Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

Timeframe: a golden opening for Emirates Golf Club in March 1988

It was the first all-grass championship course in the Middle East

To mark the opening of the Emirates Golf Club, the first green grass golf course in the Middle East, in March 1988, Pakistan's then President, General Zia Ul-Haq, hit the commemorative shot from a golden tee in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. Getty Images
To mark the opening of the Emirates Golf Club, the first green grass golf course in the Middle East, in March 1988, Pakistan's then President, General Zia Ul-Haq, hit the commemorative shot from a golden tee in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. Getty Images

In March 1988 Emirates Golf Club opened in Dubai and was the first all-grass championship course in the Middle East.

The first person to tee off was Pakistan’s president at the time, Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. The ball was placed on a golden tee and the general drove it through the air, officially marking the opening of the club and sparking a long-term love of a new sport in the region.

There to watch were Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Butti Al Maktoum, the club’s first chairman.

The golden driver that Zia – who was assassinated five months later – swung that day was given to him as a gift. The golden tee, however, was never seen again.

“Someone has it somewhere as a rather nice souvenir,” says Rod Bogg, the golf club’s general manager at the time

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Updated: March 21, 2019 05:29 PM

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