The European Challenge Tour will once again be growing golf around the world when the inaugural Azerbaijan Open Challenge marks the first professional golf tournament held in the country, which lies south of Russia next to the Caspian sea.
The addition of the €300,000 tournament, which will be held at National Azerbaijan Golf Club, in Quba, from July 31-August 3, means that the Challenge Tour schedule is now one of the strongest, most lucrative and far-reaching in its 26-year history.
Built as the headquarters for the Azerbaijan Golf Federation, the 7,011 yard layout takes advantage of the rugged, natural terrain, and boasts breath-taking views of the nearby hills and mountains due to numerous natural changes in elevation.
Designed by Jon Hunt of the International Design Group, National Azerbaijan Golf Club uses undulating fairways and deep bunkers to create a unique rugged look, with the final two holes played alongside a lake that should provide a spectacular finish.
Anar Z. Mammadov, President of the Azerbaijan Golf Federation, said: “Golf is new to Azerbaijan, so we hope to popularise it at all levels. In this regard, the implementation of a major tournament as part of the European Challenge Tour is extremely important for the country.
“With the support of the professional and qualified staff at National Azerbaijan Golf Club, we are sure that the players competing in this event will enjoy the golf course, as well as the tourism infrastructure available within our country.
“As a result, we are sure that the tournament held in Azerbaijan – the “Land of Fire” – will be one of the brightest pages in Challenge Tour history.”
European golf’s second tier has long been breaking new ground around the world as it brings the game to less recognised golfing nations, with this latest event fittingly taking place in the year that marks the tenth anniversary of the hugely successful Kazakhstan Open.
Kazakhstan, Czech Republic and Norway, among others, have benefited from the pioneering spirit of the tour and developed the professional game in their respective countries to great effect.
Azerbaijan has now signalled its intention to follow in the footsteps of those nations with the announcement of the tournament, which will benefit from one of the biggest prize funds of the season and is sure to prove crucial for the hopes of the players hoping to earn graduation to The European Tour.
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the European Challenge Tour, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be bringing the Challenge Tour to Azerbaijan for the first time. It always gives us great pleasure to bring golf to new nations such as this, and it is sure to be a memorable event.
“The Azerbaijan Golf Federation has already shown great enthusiasm and commitment in making this tournament happen, and we look forward to building a long and fruitful relationship with them in the coming years.
“As we have seen in Kazakhstan and so many other countries, the Challenge Tour can be extremely important in helping the development of professional golf in less well-known golfing nations, and we hope that the game can now flourish in Azerbaijan with the help of this tournament.”