SUPERFAN REFLECTS ON 15 YEARS OF THE DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Among those watching as Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard claimed victory at the 15th edition of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, was golf fan Andi Price.
Some things never change.
Price, 46, has been in attendance for every edition of the tournament, stretching all the way back to 2009.
“I remember the first event, I went down after work,” he recalls. “I’m a teacher, and the principal at my school asked me to go to this golf event with him, where a number of the big players were competing. I didn’t really know anything about the tournament, but I went down on the Thursday and ended up spending a whole weekend there! From that moment on, I was hooked.
“I’ve been every year since 2009. In that time, I’ve since had a daughter so it’s nice to bring her along with me now too. I absolutely love it; it’s a great day out, it’s free, and you get to see some of the best players in the world. It’s amazing to be so close, you feel like you can really interact with them which is brilliant, and it’s great to see elite-level golf played at such close quarters.
“My first memory of the tournament is actually the weather! Like this year, it rained in 2009 which was my first experience of rain in Dubai! It was only a shower, but I remember it being really refreshing and all the players enjoying it too. Even then it was a well organised event, albeit on a smaller scale, but as I said, I was hooked from my first visit.”
As an ever-present over the 15 years, few are better placed than Price, who is from Somerset in the United Kingdom but now a Dubai resident, to assess the evolution of an event which has become one of the highlights of the UAE sporting calendar.
“Over the years, I think the course has become more and more picturesque,” he says. “I remember in 2009, most of the villas around the course were only half built and I don’t think the clubhouse was even open at that point.
“Now it’s completely different, you have all the entertainment in the Championship Village, and the food and beverage options are amazing. You can go and watch the players on the range, on the putting green, watch the trick shot shows, and all from front seat views. There really is so much to see and do to fill your day.
“For me, the standout hole on the course is the 17th Green, I love standing there and watching the spectacle of the ball being hit over the lake and being able to watch so many professional players do it. It’s nice to know that sometimes not even the professionals make it over the water! It’s also great having the bar overlooking the green so you can stay there for ages and really make a day of it.”
While Price has spent the majority of his time at Jumeirah Golf Estates watching the professionals showcase their talents, there have been occasions in which he has had the opportunity to test his own abilities on the infamous Earth course – with mixed results.
“I’ve actually been lucky enough to play the Earth course a few times,” says Price. “I was a member at Jumeirah Golf Estates for a couple of years, and even won a qualifying tournament for the 2014 DP World Tour Championship Pro-Am.
“It’s a great story because the principal agreed to caddie for me, so we took the day off to play in the competition! We also brought around 60 of our pupils along with us to watch. I remember standing on the fourth hole, which is a par three, with all the kids watching and just thinking how nervous I was.
“Luckily, I somehow managed to nail it right onto the green and it was probably the best shot I hit all day. Although it was all downhill from there unfortunately! But it was such a brilliant day and one I’ll always remember.
“All the kids had a great day out as well. The professionals playing in the Pro-Am were so gracious and stopped for photos with them which made their day – some of them even gave out gloves and golf balls which was just an amazing touch.”
The growth of the event over the course of the last 15 years has undoubtedly contributed to the increased popularity of golf across the UAE, with more people than ever before now taking an interest or playing, whether in a competitive format or simply as a way of socialising with friends.
“I absolutely love golf and I’ve managed to pass it on to other teachers at my school, says Price. “We play at Arabian Ranches and created our own league called ‘The Strugglers’. We have around 20 teams who play as different countries once a month and it’s great.
“I love seeing so many more people getting into golf nowadays in Dubai and the UAE, and I think anyone who plays is spoilt with the amazing courses on offer here.”
The 15th edition of the DP World Tour Championship produced a thrilling four days of golf action, seeing Højgaard claiming victory ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Matt Wallace, with the trio sharing joint-second spot.
Preparations are already underway for next year’s event, and while it’s impossible to predict who will come out on top in 12-months, the one certainty is that Andi Price will be in attendance once more.
“I think the DP World Tour Championship is the jewel in the Dubai sporting crown,” he says.
“It’s such a great event all through the week and being able to come after work on a Thursday and Friday afternoon is great. Saturday is obviously a huge day now, too.
“It’s so well organised. I think that’s what keeps me coming back and I feel it just gets bigger and better every single year.”
Last Updated on 2 weeks by Editor