Having played in the Visa Infinite Golf Day on Thursday, January 19 (details here), I was pleased to receive tickets for the Emirates Airline Invitational Golf Tournament. The tournament was held on the Monday following the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The tournament, hosted by Abdullah Al-Naboodah, was played at the Yas Links Golf Course, recently voted as one of the top 100 golf courses in the world.
With gates opening at 9AM, I arrived reasonably early in the morning. George Coetzee and Stephen Gallagher went off at 9:30AM and, following a bacon sandwich and hot chocolate for breakfast, I caught up with them on the fourth hole. What is nice with the Emirates Airline Invitational is that spectators have the opportunity to walk in the fairways with the players, as opposed to being ‘behind the ropes’. This allows for a great deal of interaction with the players and their caddies. In addition, there is no restriction on cameras and cell 'phones on the course, though obviously photo's should not be taken when the players are playing their shots.
I was pleased to be able to chat to George Coetzee’s caddy, Alan Burns, quite extensively, gaining an insight into what life is like as a professional caddy. I chatted to George Coetzee briefly as well. I walked 14 holes with George and Stephen, enjoying their interaction with their amateur playing partners as well as the spectators who were following their group. Being such a lovely day, and with Yas Links being in such good condition, I was able to take some great photo's of the players as well as on the course.
Following the completion of the round by George Coetzee and Stephen Gallagher, I caught up with Thomas Aiken and Graeme Storm on the second hole, their 11th hole of the day. I walked the final eight holes with Thomas and Graeme. I was pleased to see Thomas Aiken once again wearing his Rhino Revolution hat (my article here).
After a long walk around the course – around 27 holes in total – I was able to relax on the grass in front of the clubhouse. I had the opportunity to have my photo taken with Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia before heading home. Perhaps next year I will be able to secure an invitation to the dinner following the event (hint, hint!!).
I would like to extend a special thanks to Abdullah Al-Naboodah for hosting the event. It was well organized and well attended. I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the players and the condition of the course made the day just that more relaxing. All in all the day was most enjoyable. I have already mentioned to my golfing buddies that they should make an effort to attend next year.
My Proposal: I am a member of the Jiggers Dubai Golf Society (blog here and Facebook page here). On behalf of Jiggers Dubai, I would very much appreciate an arrangement whereby the winner of the annual competition for Jiggers ‘Player of the Year’ is rewarded with a place in the Emirates Airline Invitational. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if such an arrangement is likely to be possible.