Growing the game in Qatar
Education City Golf Club in Qatar is a club trying to do things differently.
Having opened in 2019, it is aiming to grow the game in a country where golf is still relatively new and where conventional routes into the game don’t exist. So the club has adopted fresh ideas and initiatives to spur interest.
One popular initiative has been team-building days.
“In most companies here, the executives don’t play golf. So we sell a team-building product instead,” explains David White, the club’s Sales and Marketing Director.
“These involve different activities – we have around 18, based on the principle of 18 holes of golf. All the activities are aligned to business objectives such as problem solving, team work, communication, and coaching which is used in our blindfolded putting.
“We also introduce our tech and use the Trackman range. We give away prizes and it’s very popular. On the back of the team-building events each participant gets a voucher to come back and try the Trackman range
“You have CEOs that if you go to them and ask if they want a golf day, they don’t really know what it is. But if you ask do they want a team-building day, they understand what that’s about. It’s a much more holistic way of introducing people to golf.”
Attracting the Qataris
Without the tourism levels of other Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, White says golf needs to be adopted by the local population in order to survive.
“Currently most of our revenue comes from expats and memberships, but our whole strategy is to grow the game amongst the local population,” he continues.
“Education City is all about learning and education, and we’ve made a big push to follow that theme in all aspects of what we offer including our centre of excellence, which is like a learning academy. It’s an indoor facility, so when it’s 50 degrees outside in the summer here, it’s a big draw.
“We need the locals to embrace golf as a national sport like they have done with football.”
Increasing female participation
Education City is owned by Qatar Foundation whose chairperson is Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, and one of Her Highness’ objectives for Education City Golf Club was to get more women playing golf.
In a country known for its conservatism, the club is trying to make it as easy as possible for women to try the game while still observing traditional customs.
“We’ve just opened our private ladies’ area, which was opened by Her Highness Sheikha Moza, so over the next few months we will be introducing Qatari women and girls to the sport,” says White.
“It’s an enclosed, totally private area where all the security cameras are turned off. Women can go into the locker room, change, take off their abaya and go out through a private door onto the putting green.
“We’ve got a female golf coach, and they can go into a private studio as well. Once they’ve become used to being at the golf club, hopefully they will venture out onto the courses. There’s lots of good sports clothing now for Islamic women to feel comfortable, so they can keep covered up if they prefer.
“We’re just starting women’s coaching now and we have sponsors which will pay for the coaches to give complimentary sessions. It’s easier to get people started with free taster classes.”