x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Need of the hour: Winners from Middle East and North Africa

All four Mena Tour competitions were won by players from Europe and America, and that has to change to ensure golf is growing in the UAE.

Zane Scotland, Ross Canavan, Peter Richardson and Jake Shepherd were all worthy winners in the inaugural Mena Tour.

But what does it say for the image of golf in this region when their flagship tour is dominated by overseas players?

The Mena tour needs winners from the Middle East of North Africa to capture the imagination, and improve the standard, of players in the region.

Morocco's Faycal Serghini was fifth in the professional order of merit and Ahmed Marjan, his countryman, finished top amateur and will go to the Dubai Desert Classic in February.

But that is scant return from the countries this tour was, in part, set up to promote. It is difficult to see how the Mena players will improve if the order of merit top places are taken up entirely by Europeans or Americans.

It may help if the scheduling next year allowed the top UAE players to compete in all four tournaments.

Ahmed Al Musharrekh and Khalid Yousuf missed the first two tournaments because they were at the Asian Amateur Championship in Singapore.

The inaugural Mena Tour had its high points, but to evolve it must change the days on which the competitions take place.

They were held Monday-Wednesday this time because organisers did not want to inconvenience the hosting clubs.

If the final round was held on a Friday, it would surely attract spectators. The crowds would not be in their thousands, at first, but enough people would surround the last group to give the players a taste of the big time.

It's worth a try.


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