Plans for a new course were unveiled in Shanghai this Tuesday and it’s a damning indictment of the game.
My first thought when seeing all this was well…awesome! You show me a golfer who doesn’t love to gawk at lavish and exciting new golf projects and i’ll show you a liar. Believe me the proposals for the new Qatar International Golf Course will make your jaw touch the floor.
On the outskirts of Doha lies the immodestly named ‘Education city’ and it’s within this area the project will take root. Comprised of an 18-hole championship golf course, a 6-hole championship course, and a 9-hole par-3, this project will “revolutionise the way golf is taught and enjoyed,” Said General Manager, Ed Edwards. “[It] is a landmark project for Qatar and the world of golf,” “we hope to encourage greater participation in the sport amongst the local community,”
Truly inspiring stuff. They even managed to get the unyielding course architect, Jose Maria Olazabal, to toe the official line. “I believe long term growth in golf can only happen if we make the game easily accessible and fun for the kids and that lies at the heart of Qatar International Golf Club,” said the two-time major winner.
What a curiously similar sentiment to every other person who was asked about the project. These proposals were unveiled at the annual Golf business forum and it’s important for us all to realise just how influential this group can be on the direction of the sport.
Your cynical response would be justifiable, it’s a struggle to get excited about the tagline “we’re doing it for the kids,” because anyone with half a brain can see it’s BS. The only obvious beneficiaries of this project are more of what golf doesn’t need. There is only one other golf course in Qatar and it took 5,000 shrubs, 6,000 trees and 10,000 cacti to build, all imported from the not so local state of Arizona. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a country which tips the thermometer at 120 degrees in the summer is hardly a petri dish for golf participation. It all sounds very familiar, once again a small almost inhospitable bit of desert is to host internationally funded professional competitions. Worse still it all gets packaged up and sold to us like we came down in the last shower, not that that’s an applicable metaphor for this desert project.
The Doha Golf Club is the only grass course in Qatar and it’s exhausting work trying to pinpoint how much water it actually uses. That’s because the vast majority of these courses don’t publish their expenditure. To give you an idea of the scale, Yas Links, a course in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, reportedly uses as much as 2.2 million metric tonnes of water (578 million gallons) every year.
The new course in Doha might be coined as “one of the most sustainable golf courses in the world,” but how can this be good for a country that has to burn oil to obtain water to then make oil. It’s laughable that a committee get together to invest in projects that supposedly benefit golf, to then decide on building a course in a country ranked 2 on the global ‘water-stressed’ index.
This whole thing is an illustration of how golf’s status as the milkable cash cow is gleefully exploited by big investors. It rarely trickles down to make the sport more accessible to those who don’t take regular business trips to random desert oases.