As the European Tour’s Race to Dubai heads to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship, Falcon Golf chairman Peter Dawson speaks to Michael Stoneman about the event’s importance to Dubai
The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour, with past winners including Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie.
In recent years, it has also proven to be an integral event in the Race to Dubai - a season-long competition to crown the European Tour’s no. 1 player - with two of the last six champions going on to win the title.
And with the 2017 tournament also signalling the start of the European Tour’s Rolex Series – an alliance of eight events all with minimum prize funds of US$7m – this year’s BMW PGA Championship could be more significant than ever for the star-studded field that will assemble at the West Course from 25-28 May.
But while the likes of Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and Open champion Henrik Stenson will be eyeing the huge rewards on offer, the tournament also presents a vital opportunity for Dubai to share its story on the world stage, according to Peter Dawson, Chairman of Falcon Golf, an affiliate of Falcon and Associates that was established in 2016 to optimise the benefits that the sport of golf brings to Dubai.
“Wentworth is important for us because it’s a key event on the Race to Dubai and one of the European Tour’s flagship championships,” he explains.
“As the Tour travels internationally, we are using the Race to Dubai to help us tell Dubai’s story to a wide audience and we will have an area set aside at the tournament to do that. We have invited a large number of guests to the event and will also host business breakfasts in London during the championship. It’s a big opportunity for us.”
Innovations on this season’s European Tour – including the World Super 6 event in Australia and the GolfSixes tournament in England – also present excellent opportunities for Dubai, according to Dawson.
“There are a number of innovations being tried in golf at the moment, and I do applaud the efforts that the European Tour and others are making,” he says. “If that helps to increase the fan base, then that’s a very important thing for Dubai, and will help us tell its story to wider and wider audiences.”
As part of its efforts to spread Dubai’s golfing message, Falcon Golf also unveiled a new website earlier this month to enhance awareness of the emirate as a world-leading golf destination.
For the first time in one place, golfindubai.com provides visitors and tour operators with everything they need to know about experiencing golf in the city, including information on Dubai’s 11 first-class courses designed by some of the greatest names in golf including Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Greg Norman and Ernie Els.
“Driving greater golf tourism is one of our key goals and the new website provides, in one place, details of all the wonderful golf facilities that there are here,” says Dawson. “The golf courses here in Dubai are really, really top quality and this will help market them to potential golf tourists around the world.”
And among those hoping to make the trip to Dubai will be the players teeing it up at Wentworth this month, with each one targeting a spot in the top 60 of the European Tour rankings to book a place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, and a shot at the Race to Dubai title.