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Published on : Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Following the successful inaugural season of the Mediterranean Tour for professional golfers, Egypt is now looking to step up its position as a must-play destination on the fixtures list for rising stars of the game.
The MedTour was set up as a home-grown tour that would appeal to pro golfers as a winter series to sharpen their game before the start of the European season on various tours. The brainchild of three young Egyptian national team golfers – Ahmed Hussain, Soliman El Aasser and Taymour Scarello – it was established with the backing of CTT Travel as part of the Golf in Egypt initiative, which is aimed at developing golf locally and establishing Egypt as an international golf destination.
The country already hosts several events for up-and-coming professional golfers on the Pro Golf Tour and Alps Tour circuits, both of which are regional satellite tours of the PGA European Tour’s Challenge Tour. And this year saw players from both satellite tours and the Challenge Tour battle it out in a series of three events for a total prize fund of 115,000 euros.
CTT Travel’s commitment to the Golf in Egypt initiative showed how important the role of an influential sponsor is with the number of MedTour events now set to be expanded in 2016 as a result of the overwhelming success of the first series. The competitors included participants from both regional tours, national team members from the Polish and Serbian golf federations who had sent their top amateurs to Cairo for winter training, and Challenge Tour players taking advantage of Egypt’s guaranteed winter sun, excellent courses and superb training and practice facilities both in Cairo and on the Red Sea.
Among the players was eight-time European Tour winner and Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst, an ambassador for the MedTour, who tied for fourth place in the inaugural event at The Allegria in Cairo. He also gave a clinic to juniors when he took part in a pro-am event hosted by the MedTour at Cairo’s Gezira Golf, one of the oldest courses in Africa. Broadhurst praised the golf courses and organisation of the tour, saying that the hospitality, hotels and quality of the golf courses were of the best quality he had experienced in his time as a touring pro.
The three MedTour events were contested on a selection of the best courses in Cairo: Katameya Dunes, one of the Cairo “Desert Trail” trilogy of courses, and Palm Hills and The Allegria, which are part of the “Pyramids Trail” courses on the west side of Cairo.
The tournaments were highly contested and saw some interesting and memorable results. Week one winner was Scott Borrowman of Scotland, in only his first tournament as a pro. The week two winner was Spain’s Xavi Puig, who plays on the EuroPro Tour and MENA Golf Tour, while the third week’s winner was Challenge Tour veteran Florian Prageant of Austria. The Low Amateur title went to Branamir Gudjel of Serbia. Puig also won the Order of Merit honour from Praegant, winning an invitation to the 2016 MedTour series powered by CTT.
Despite losing out on the Order of Merit, Praegant said he was extremely satisfied with the MedTour series, ratifying the players’ consensus that the standards of hospitality, the climate, the golf courses and the variety of things to do in Egypt were second to none.
“The MedTour was excellent and the organisation was great. I think the Tour has a great future,” he added. “The climate, the courses are fantastic. I did not get to see a lot of Egypt, as we are here to play, but for the recreational golfer, Egypt has so much to offer, in terms of great quality courses, history – not to mention the fantastic weather in Egypt compared to Europe through the winter!”
Besides playing in the tournament, the players had a chance to visit the famous Pyramids at Giza and be photographed swinging a golf club in front of the iconic landmarks. They were following in illustrious footsteps; in 2010, current World No 1 Rory McIlroy played in a Challenge Tour event in Egypt and hit balls at the Pyramids while South African golf legends Bobby Locke and Gary Player both launched their successful international careers with wins in Egypt at the Egyptian Open, played at the venerable Gezira club.
MedTour week one winner Scott Borrowman remarked: “It’s great to be at the Pyramids, and emulating Rory in terms of swinging at the Pyramids was a fantastic opportunity.” He went on to say: “Being in Egypt has been the launch pad for many careers, and Rory has done extremely well since his visit to Egypt. I hope that I can get some luck from my visit to the Pyramids as some of the legends that have played in Egypt.”
The success of the MedTour in 2015, largely attributed to the flawless operational support from CTT as main sponsor, has delighted Mohammed Attallah, Golf Business Development Director of the private sector Golf Travel Egypt initiative that is backed by the Egyptian Tourism Authority and the Egyptian Golf Federation and endorsed by the international golf tourism industry body, IAGTO. And he revealed there were proposals to expand it next year.
“The MedTour plans to increase the number of events in 2016, and plans are in place to ensure World Ranking points for the 2016 series and to possibly have invitations to European Challenge Tour events for Event winners in 2016,” said Attallah. “What is definite is that the MedTour, powered by the passion of CTT for excellent golf experiences for professionals and amateurs alike, has established a place for itself in the 2016 schedule for many professionals looking to warm up during the cold winter months.”
IAGTO Chief Executive Peter Walton believes initiatives such as the establishment of the MedTour and Egypt’s growing appeal as a winter base for both touring professionals and golf teaching pros would also act as a spur to attract more leisure golfers in winter, particularly from countries in Northern Europe.
He said: “The overwhelming response of golf pros to the quality and condition of Egypt’s courses, the hospitality and practice facilities, not to mention the predictable sunny climate, will help enormously in the drive to attract more and more golf travellers to a destination where playing golf is just so enjoyable and comfortable.”