It may not strike you as a perfect golfing destination at first glance, but scratch beneath the surface in the land of the pyramids and Egypt reveals itself as the perfect place to plan a golfing break with perfect weather and a growing list of superb golf courses and resorts.
Anywhere that has an average annual rainfall of three days is a safe bet, but add to that over 20 outstanding courses in fascinating locations such as Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh and you have a golfing destination that demands further exploration.
With the JW Marriott, Mirage City Golf Club in Cairo hosting this week’s Egyptian Open presented by SODIC on the European Challenge Tour, Egypt is ready to showcase its golfing jewels to the wider world.
An outstanding 7108 yard championship course, the JW Marriott, Mirage City Golf Club is a challenging layout in outstanding condition and is hosting the Egyptian Open presented by SODIC for the second consecutive season.
“Statistically, you can play golf on 365? days of the year,” says Swede Calle Carlsson, a former Challenge Tour player who is now the Director of Golf at the JW Marriott Mirage City Golf Club. “I have never been in another country quite like that – you simply don’t have to look at the weather forecast when you come to Egypt.
“You basically put on your shorts and golf shirt and go play – if you want to play golf in the European winter time then you can come here for a week knowing that you can play for those seven days if you want to. Places like Spain and Turkey have fantastic courses and hotels but if you go there in February or March you could get unlucky and have five days of rain. In Egypt you can guarantee sun every day.
“The JW Marriott is the perfect place for a golf holiday – it’s a heaven for children and families, we have a fantastic spa, great food and of course a very good golf course. You can also see the Pyramids and all of the great historical monuments of Cairo and if you want you can be at the Red Sea in an hour from here.”
Carlsson is understandably biased towards his employers at the stunning JW Marriott Resort at Mirage City, but he does acknowledge that his Resort is one of many outstanding venues across Egypt.
Gerard Bent, Golf Manager for the Egyptian Golf Federation, echoes Carlsson’s comments and offers an even broader view of Egypt’s remarkable golf facilities, where Cairo is the jewel in the crown.
“We have 22 courses in operation in Egypt and Cairo is certainly the strongest area we have in operation. The city is divided into two golf zones if you like, Cairo East and Cairo West,” explained Bent, who is also a golf pro and who started his career in golf administration in Abu Dhabi before heading to Egypt over five years ago.
“The West area is particularly strong with this course at the JW Marriott and a new Faldo design at Katameya Dunes as well as Katameya Heights. All three of these courses are within 15 minutes of each other and 20 minutes from the airport so this is a very strong area.
“Cairo West now has a Greg Norman Course and a Karl Litten Course in operation and we have a Jack Nicklaus course opening in around six months so it really is a strong golfing destination and you have to say that it ticks all the boxes: golf course standards; hotel standards; affordability; weather – it really does deliver and you could have a great golfing holiday if you came here for a week or more.”
The Egyptian Challenge presented by SODIC is part of a strategy that the EGF hope will bring The European Tour to the country in 2012.
“The Egyptian Tourist Authority is very supportive of the Federation and helped us attract Rory McIlroy as our star player to the event this year which has had a huge benefit to the event in terms of sponsorship,” continued Bent.
“We actually had so many offers of sponsorship that we couldn’t bring them all together so the interest has been considerable – we hope that can continue through to 2012 when we plan to host a European Tour event for the first time.”
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