The European Tour returned from its winter break this week, with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship currently underway on this spectacular-looking course.
- The tournament is part of the Rolex Series, a collection of 8 premier events designed to attract the biggest names in golf by offering significant prize money (upwards of $7 million per tournament).
- That seems to be working, as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and 13 other top-50 players are participants this week.
The big picture: Abu Dhabi is the first of 6 events that will take place in the Middle East this year — a whopping 12.5% of the European Tour’s schedule (48 events total).
- The other 5 locations: Dubai, UAE (twice) — King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia — Doha, Qatar — Muscat, Oman.
How we got here: 30 years ago, Dubai was “just starting to introduce itself as a tourist destination, and golf offered a natural fit with its winter sunshine and miles of undeveloped acreage,” writes The New York Times.
- The European Tour happened to be looking to expand at this time, so they decided to take a chance on the “oasis in the desert” — and it worked.
- 3 decades later, Dubai and its Middle East neighbors have hosted 64 Tour events — many of them drawing some of the world’s top players on an annual basis.