Gary Player is to design the first of two championship golf courses planned for Saadiyat Island – the 27 square kilometre island offshore Abu Dhabi city, which is being transformed into a world-class tourism, culture and residential destination.
The Saadiyat course will be the first in the Arabian Gulf with several beach-front holes. It is also the first in the UAE to be designed by the South African whose career includes three Masters wins, three British Open titles, two PGA championships and the US Open title to complete the Grand Slam.
“Gary Player is renowned as much for his dedication to the principles of design excellence as he is for his golfing accomplishments. He is recognized worldwide, as an uncompromising perfectionist who settles for nothing but the best,” said HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the name behind the transformation of Saadiyat Island.
“We are convinced Gary will bring to this project his impeccable set of values and insistence on quality which have earned him worldwide respect. This course will be a world-class asset for Saadiyat Island and Abu Dhabi and one capable of hosting international-standard tournaments,” added Sheikh Sultan, “We were also particularly impressed with the humanitarian work of the Player Foundation which has improved educational resources for underprivileged children across Africa, Asia and the USA.”
A ‘first’ for The Player Group in Abu Dhabi, Gary Player expressed enthusiasm about being a part of the transformation of Saadiyat Island: “I am both honoured and delighted to be appointed to design this golf course at Saadiyat Island and look forward to producing a world-class facility that will compliment this world-class destination.”
The Gary Player Signature course, which is scheduled for completion in 2009, is being constructed in the Saadiyat Beach district – one of seven distinct zones within Saadiyat Island. According to senior course designer Jeff Lawrence, “The objective is to keep the design of the Beach Course simple and straight forward, yet visually stunning, while concentrating design efforts on the strategic values that will stand the test of time.”
The golf course is due to be presented this September, when TDIC also hopes to appoint a clubhouse designer. The facilities will be open to club members as well as some hotel pay-and-play guests. An international operator will be appointed to run the facility.
A second ‘ocean-style’ golf course is to be built in Saadiyat Island. The two courses will substantially enhance the golf tourism offering of Abu Dhabi which already has a championship course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which is owned by TDIC, and is home to the annual European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi Golf Championship to be staged for the third time in January.
“Saadiyat Beach is a dramatic setting for any golf facility with the clubhouse and the course planned to offer sweeping Gulf and beach views,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA and Managing Director, TDIC. “Our research has shown that golf is a key ingredient in the meetings and business tourism sectors which we anticipate will account for one third of our targeted three million annual tourist arrivals by 2015.”