A desert fox was seen trotting around the JW Marriott golf course on Saturday, as American and European amateur golfers teed off in a shot-gun start, on the second day of the Cairo Ryder Cup.
Staged in concert with the Ryder Cup, played in Kentucky, USA, over the weekend, the Cairo version of golf’s ultimate team competition lines up two teams of 36 players and uses the same point system and generates the same camaraderie that is the moniker of the Ryder Cup.
On Friday, the teams played in pairs and took the best score of the two players and on Saturday, it was the individual score that won points for the team.
The din in the club bar before lunch, with players all sporting the sponsor’s polo shirt in team colors, echoed that tribal delight golfers take in appraising their game and describing the perfect draw, the one they shagged or how the ‘big dog’ just wasn’t barking for them today.
Cairo’s Ryder Cup is organized by golfing promoter Roger Dally who also captained the European team, though he didn’t have the delight of securing the silver jug for his mostly British compatriots.
The American team won the trophy and at lunch they received a standing ovation from the Europeans, for their excellent golf and a promise to right the wrong in two years time.
Cairo’s Ryder Cup was held at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kattameya, where the course is in excellent condition. I was told the course was in no small part to the work of Calle Carlsson, who came to the Marriott from the Golf Hotel in Ain Sokhna.
“The JW is the best course in Egypt, Dally said. “Soma Bay may be the most picturesque course, with its location on the Red Sea, but the wind can make it difficult.
The JW also attracts an enormous amount of wildlife and on the course a discerning eye can see Moore hens on the 16th and 17th holes, kestrels, storks, spur winged plovers and white breasted kingfishers, to name just a few.
It is worth the drive as well out to the start of the Suez Road, where the JW Marriot boasts a club house with a fine dining restaurant, function rooms, a large terrace and a 19th hole with tremendous staff who understand the needs of the thirsty golfer.
To the uninitiated, the Ryder Cup holds a unique position in golf and in the sporting world I believe, as there is no prize money and the club house bragging rights are legendary.
Cairo’s Ryder Cup is also establishing its own traditions and putting 72 of Cairo’s top expatriate corporate decision makers together for two days, creates a unique networking opportunity that surely leads to plenty of business parlay.
The event was sponsored by TWMA Egypt, a global oil service company that specializes in the environmental challenges and needs of drilling operations and the oil industry in general.
“Our sponsorship of this event shows both our commitment to the Egyptian market and North Africa and it is extremely good public relations for us,
Martin Wayman of TWMA said. “Our products and engineering have been extremely successful on the oil field and looking after the environment, for any industry, is the future.
Also taking a keen interest in the Cairo Ryder Cup were the editors of Sports and Fitness magazine who publish a golf edition and are often seen cruising the country’s fairways in a golf buggy and doing their bit to promote what is a growing sport, a lucrative tourism market and now Egypt is beginning to establish itself on the “Middle Eastern tour as it were.
In February 2009, the tourist company, Mentor, will stage a series of Pro-Am (professional and amateur) tournaments, with the help of prize money from the United Arab Emirates and to be part of the Gulf countries’ golf calendar.
More and more, Egypt is establishing itself as a golfing destination and the vanguard of the sport are Scandinavians who appreciate the Egyptian sun in the midst of their long winter and value for money experiences Egypt offers.
Watching Cairo’s Ryder Cup on Saturday, with the players dressed in their match shirts moving around the manicured course was a great way to spend the afternoon. Whoever said that golf spoiled a good walk certainly had not strolled the hillsides of the JW Marriott.