By Kent Gray
Organisers will use just about any vehicle to promote their tournament nowadays and need to be especially creative in the Middle East given the number of top-tier professional events the region hosts.
This dramatic, skyscraper-framed shot of an inverted glider flying low over the heads of Sergio Garcia and Anirban Lahiri as the Masters champion and Indian star hit shots down the Skydive Dubai runway in May to promote ‘Golf in Dubai’ immediately springs to mind.
Even the mighty PGA Tour has had to up its social media game in light of the European Tour’s efforts in the past year. Who can forget the epic Mannequin Challenge ahead of last year’s DP World Tour Championship or Little Billy roasting Rory McIlroy at Jumeirah Golf Estates, not to mention the brilliantly funny “Awkward Reporter“ at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship?
The Challenge Tour isn’t on the same level, of course, but kudos where it is due in the on-going efforts to promote next month’s Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) enlisted defending champion Jordan Smith to sell the sizzle of the Oct. 25-28 event and the choice of vehicle, a stand-up paddleboard, is certainly a novel way to deliver the message.
You can enjoy the Englishman taking on PXG Middle East ambassador Claudine Foong-Riggs in a game of “PaddleGolf” at Al Hamra G.C. here:
As Golf Digest Middle East’s fitness guru, we reckon Claudine, a former professional golfer turned wellness/performance coach, took it easy on Smith in the 1000m paddle race. But Smith did hole one of (the many) shots from the floating pontoon to a makeshift pin cut 140 yards away on Al Hamra’s 18th green, so lets call it an honourable draw.
“I was a little cautious at first because I had never tried stand-up paddle boarding before,” said Smith. “After a few quick tips on the beach, it was a relief to get straight on to my feet once we hit the water. It turned out to be really fun and it was comforting knowing the water beneath me was warm!
“Once we got on the pontoon, it was a little more familiar – well, as familiar as playing golf shots off a floating platform in the middle of a lagoon can be!”
The 24-year-old Englishman, who currently sits 17th on the Race to Dubai standings after claiming his maiden European Tour tour win at July’s Porsche European Open in Hamburg, Germany, also shares thoughts on his remarkable rookie season and the upcoming RAK Golf Challenge here:
Having graduated to the main tour as Challenge Tour champion, Smith will not be back to defend the title he won 10 months ago as we explain in this earlier back-grounder:
Instead, he’ll tee it up in the European Tour’s season-ending $8million DP World Tour Championship at JGE from November 16-19. We await the European Tour’s next social media ditty at JGE with baited breath but first the focus will be on Al Hamra and the penultimate event on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman. The UAE’s northern most emirate will see the next generation of European Tour stars edge ever closer to graduating to the main tour, and undoubtedly marking themselves as potential social media cannon fodder for 2018. Bring it on.