Chris May is the General Manager of Dubai Golf, which oversees Emirates Golf Club and the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. He spoke with our team about his favorite golf courses, Dubai becoming one of the world’s best golf destinations and much more.
To start, how did you first get into golf?
I first started playing with my Dad, who was very patient with me in the early days, which I appreciate greatly now! My sporting passions as a kid were football and squash, but every Summer holiday the majority of my time was on the golf course with my friends playing round after round.
The UAE and especially Dubai have grown into one of the best golfing destinations in the world. What’s the recipe for this success?
Dubai is indeed one of the world’s great golfing destinations, and there are several reasons for this, the quality of the courses is very high and Dubai has promoted itself very well through a long history of professional golf tournaments being hosted in the city, through the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and more recently the DP World Tour Championship and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. Emirates Airline has also been instrumental in Dubai’s growth as a golfing destination, as it is now very easy to reach Dubai from almost anywhere on the planet!
In addition to the golf, Dubai has a world class offering in so many areas from the hotels, to the shopping and restaurants…it is difficult to beat!
What make The Emirates Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club great European Tour venues?
The Majlis course at Emirates GC was the first grass course in the Middle East and as such was the pioneer in the growth of the industry. The Desert Classic being held for the first time in 1989 made history as the first time a European Tour event had been played outside mainland Europe. From the first year the course quality was exceptional and the best players in the world came and played. Winners such as Ballesteros, Woods, Olazabal, Couples, Montgomerie, Stenson, McIlroy and Garcia are the envy of many tournaments around the world. The tournament was held at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in 1999 and 2000 and showcased a different view of the city with amazing TV coverage of the course and stunning Clubhouse, set against the backdrop of the Creek.
Despite both courses providing a tough challenge for the best players in the world I think their most important quality is that both courses are very playable and enjoyable for all golfers whether members or overseas guests.
What’s your best memory from hosting the Dubai Desert Classic?
I have two…. the first was the final day of the 2001 Desert Classic when Thomas Bjorn beat Tiger Woods at the height of his powers on the final hole having played all four rounds with him. Rumour has it, that a few of our golf professionals at the Club made a large sum of money from a Scottish bookmaker on that win! The second highlight was Tiger Woods second win at the Desert Classic in 2008, when he holed a 30 ft birdie putt on the 18th hole, for a back nine of 31 and round of 65 for victory!!
What are your 3 favorite golf courses in the world?
If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
The Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club, it is always a challenge and fun to play!
What is your favorite golf destination and why?
Who is your favorite pro on tour and why?
Henrik Stenson, he is a genuinely great guy who has worked very hard through some challenging times to become one of the best players in the world, I was so happy when he won the Open last year, but more importantly was the way he won it……that duel with Mickelson on the final day was golf at its finest!