By: Ashok Purohit

Oman is a fast-growing golf destination and the recent hosting of the NBO Classic Grand Final at Almouj Golf – the season-ending European Challenge Tour event – saw the sultanate make its presence felt across the golfing world, according to a top functionary of the RandA, golf’s governing body based in Scotland.

In his remarks to Muscat Daily, Omar Malik, a member of the RandA’s golf development committee, said, “I am impressed with the facilities available for golfers in Oman. TheMiddle East is a growing market for the game to develop among the locals and Oman is one of the key destinations.”

Malik said the RandA is supporting the promotion of the game and the national federations. In Oman’s case, the Oman Golf Committee (OGC) is responsible for spreading the game at the grassroot level.

“We have supported the OGC in the past with financial grants for its programme to develop women golfers. Of late, we have not been approached by them over any such plans.

“We would like the OGC to be more willing in the promotion of the sport. We are ready to support them on all fronts, be it grants or transfer of expertise or even helping them plan tailor-made programmes for the game in the country,” the London-based official said.

“Each year, the RandA distributes a sum of roughly US$7.5mn to deserving causes from grassroots initiatives, through coaching, junior golf and regional championships, to professional tours all over the world.

“In recent years, there’s been a great deal of focus on financing golf development in countries where the game is a relatively new sport. Oman fits in that bill perfectly,” said Malik.

“Oman has benefitted from the RandA’s assistance in the past and our aim is simple – to encourage more people to play golf in more places, more often.

“We place high emphasis on junior initiatives.We look forward to hearing from the OGC to come up with such development programmes and are more than willing to help them.”

He added, “The OGC needs to submit applications for financial support and if they need advice on how to start such initiatives in the country, we are ready to help them.”

What is RandA?

Formed in 2004 at St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, the RandA is a group of companies that collectively seek to support activities undertaken to develop and promote golf worldwide, except the US and Mexico. The RandA is, however, distinct from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews. The RandA organises the Open, golf’s oldest major, along with a number of other amateur and junior events, some of which are sanctioned by other golfing bodies.

The RandA also assumes responsibility for the administration of the Rules of Golf with the consent of 152 organisations from the amateur and professional game, and on behalf of over 30mn golfers in 138 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas. For the US and Mexico, the United States Golf Association is the governing body, an organisation with whom the RandA jointly issued the Rules of Golf since 1952.

30 women register for OGC programme

A total of 30 Omanis have registered so far for a women’s golf development programme that is being organised by the Oman Golf Committee (OGC) in association with hosts Muscat Hills and supported by NBO. Registration for the programme opened for a day on October 27, resulting in an encouraging response from Omani women, according to organisers.

The 30 women, who will be trained by Muscat Hills-based PGA Pro Jade Lucas, have been pooled into four groups as part of the bronze leg of the programme. Following the bronze phase – which features six participants – the programme will move to silver and gold stages.

Maitha al Araimi, an interior designer who has joined the programme, said, “I was very eager how it’s going to be. I wanted to try my hand in golf for a long time. Importantly, I don’t have to spend anything here as the gear is sponsored.”

Jade said, “We advertised the women’s programme through social media platforms and the response has been quite good. With 30 women on board, we have made a good start.”