Following the success of last year’s Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final, Manager of the spectacular host venue, James Shippey, says that he and his Al Badia team are doing everything in their power to deliver an even bigger and better season finale this time around.
Al Badia Golf Club, with its pristine greens, stunning views and iconic clubhouse, proved a hugely popular and successful host in its first year, with Shiv Kapur providing a fittingly dramatic finish.
The Indian’s second victory of the season came at the perfect time and parachuted him into the all-important top 15, earning him a return to The European Tour.
It was the Challenge Tour’s first visit to the metropolitan paradise of Dubai and what a debut, but Shippey believes there is a lot more to come from his venue.
“Hosting the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final was a big step for us as a club to dip our toe in the water to see how we liked hosting a tournament without committing to a fully-fledged European Tour event,” said Shippey. “The event had a high enough stature that brought a high amount of media value and it was just a great fit for us.
“We didn’t have long to prepare for the 2013 tournament and it showed what we could deliver in such a short space of time. Obviously, for the 2014 staging, we will have had 12 months to prepare and we’ll definitely deliver something that will impress a lot of people.
“We’ve made some slight modifications to the golf course for the second staging this year, namely new tees on holes 11 and 17, but it was good to hear from the players that we already have a world-class product that the players appreciate and enjoy competing over.”
In addition to garnering feedback from the players in the event, every step was taken to assess the overall experience of the spectators and Shippey believes that this year’s event will be even more family-friendly than 2013.
“We’re aiming to raise the profile to make the event more of a family affair and one of the things we’ve managed to arrange is that this year’s event will finish on a Saturday. With Friday and Saturday as the tournament’s final two days, which is our weekend in Dubai, it will give families the opportunity to spend the weekend here and see the tournament finish on a weekend rather than on a work day.”
Another area of focus is the relationships with sponsors and the corporate hospitality area, something Shippey is keen to make the most of in the run up to and during the tournament.
“One of our key benefits at Al Badia is our corporate hospitality area, which, during the tournament is outside on the lawn overlooking the golf course. We’re blessed with great weather in November so it’s an ideal location to sit back, relax and watch the golf.
“We’re fully committed to delivering on our three year agreement. Whether we continue to host the European Challenge Tour or perhaps move to a European Tour event remains to be seen. But the opportunity is there and the appetite is there to be involved with the big events - the feedback we got from the Tour, the players, and the general public, was music to our ears.”