Three hundred students were treated to a superstar-led golf lesson on the last stop of the Saudi International Trophy Tour, ahead of the tournament getting underway at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club yesterday.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Patrick Reed of the USA visited The World Academy in King Abdullah Economic City, the last stop on the four-school tour that has seen visits from national and international stars of the game, plus a Golf Saudi initiative teaching schoolchildren the basics of the sport, across the Kingdom.
The innovative ‘Starting New at Golf’ (SNAG) certification programme includes all the basics of golf, helping to teach beginners and build-up their skills. SNAG has become popular globally, as it can be played both indoors and outdoors, ensuring anyone can learn, anyone can play, and anyone can teach golf – alongside the sport’s core values.
Golf Saudi utilise the scheme as part of their Mass Participation Program, which aims to introduce 3.5million Saudis to the game of golf by 2025 – and which the Saudi International Trophy Tour has been a part of.
Othman Almulla, Saudi Arabia’s first professional golfer, launched the tour in Riyadh last year, with 2020 PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers champion Graeme McDowell, and Patrick Reed, the 2018 Master’s champion, rounding it off it in KAEC this week.
The pair explained their love of the game to World Academy students aged between 11 and 18, before answering the students’ intriguing questions about golf.
Eleven-year-old Romaysa, who enjoyed her first go at golf under the guidance of Reed, said: “I really like golf, I think it’s fun and I can’t wait to go to Royal Greens this weekend with my family.”
Ahmad Habbal, a senior at TWA, added: “It’s a nice experience to meet world class golfers that come to our school and give us a nice experience on a sport that has become popular in Saudi Arabia over the past few years. I’ll be attending the Saudi International over the weekend where I will be volunteering with a couple of my fellow classmates.”
Mr. Lowrance De JAGER, school principal turned Business Manager at the school, explained: “At TWA we believe in holistic development first and foremost – it’s not about book knowledge, we want them to experience and to discover and that’s exactly what golf brings to them. It’s not just about going to the event and enjoying the event but it’s also about the skills that they discover and learn through golf itself and that’s what this visit really drives this community.”
Graeme McDowell said: “It’s exciting to come back to Saudi Arabia, a country that’s investing so much in golf and is constantly trying make the game accessible to kids of all ages. In some countries we visit, golf is part of the culture and in some countries, it’s just not part of the culture at all. Everything Golf Saudi is doing here to try to grow the game in the Kingdom has been impressive and the small part what we play coming here and playing and competing at this great tournament is an important part of that kind of growth in the culture.
He later added: “It was a really important victory for me back in 2020. It got me where I want to be in the sport. It’s always great to come back to a place and play where you had good memories. It’s really inspiring.”
Patrick Reed is no stranger to TWA, having made two previous visits to the school. He said: “I’ve always wanted to grow the game worldwide, not just in my own community at home, and opportunities like this where I get to go to a different country and spend time with children whether they know golf or not is super important, because golf is one of those games that teaches you a lot of things about life.
“Golf teaches you how to handle those speedbumps that you have throughout your life. It tests you mentally just as much as it tests you physically, which is something I think a lot of kids need to get accustomed to. Everything is not so easy in life these days – you have to work hard at everything you do if you want to be successful. I feel like golf is the sport that can teach you these things for life.”
Tickets for the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers are available by clicking here.