From Butch to Claude III; The Els Club Dubai remains a Harmon haven for improvement hungry golfers

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Claude III had worked with several tour pros who had won majors, but Koepka was the first that was all Harmon’s doing.

By Kent Gray
One of Middle East golf’s better kept secrets is finally out with the Butch Harmon School of Golf at The Els Club Dubai set for a significant rebrand. But fans of the world renowned Harmon method of instruction needn’t fret.

From January 1, the academy will be overseen by Butch’s son Claude Harmon III and be known as the Claude Harmon ③ Performance Golf Academy Dubai.

The shake-up follows the departure of U.S.-bound Justin Parsons after he initially helped Claude open the BHSG Dubai 10 years ago. Parsons has been replaced as Director of Instruction by his deputy Jamie McConnell while Claude Harmon will spend at least a week at The Els Club annually hosting member only events, VIP clinics, Q&A’s and tournaments as well as working with his team of instructors.

Claude and Butch Harmon with Justin Parsons at The Open.

It’s a coup in a region that already boasts the Peter Cowen academies at Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Golf sister property Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and the recently opened David Leadbetter academy at JA The Resort, more commonly known as Jebel Ali.

Claude Harmon, who was based in Dubai for several years before he made a move back to his native USA, has long since stepped out of the shadow of his famous pop with Dustin Johnson,  Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among his stable of star players.

Jamie McConnell has succeeded Justin Parsons as Director of Instruction at the newly Claude Harmon academy.

McConnell has been mentored by Parsons during his near five years in Dubai and has already succeeded Parsons who starts a new role at prestigious Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island in Georgia in February.

Irishman McConnell is an AA PGA and TPI Level 2 professional and has helped the BHSG Dubai become a production line for top amateurs, along with a beacon for touring professionals. Toby Bishop, who just won the Faldo Series European Grand Final, was McConnell’s very first lesson when he joined the BHSC in 2013. 

An artists impression of the new leisure facilities at The Els Club Dubai.

Meanwhile, work on a new state-of-the-art leisure facility will begin at The Els Club Dubai, early next year. The Troon International managed facility is set to benefit from a gymnasium, large resort-style swimming pool, a swim-up pool bar, a children’s play area and an additional restaurant. It is hoped it will be operational by September 2019.

“We could not be more excited about this incredible development to our club and cannot wait for the changes to be made and for golfers to enjoy next year,” said Els Club general manager Karl Whitehead.

“This is a fantastic addition to the membership offering at The Els Club Dubai and we are confident of the success that it will bring to our property and the wider community.”

Mark Chapleski, the Dubai-based president of Troon International, applauded the developments at The Els Club Dubai.

“The Troon properties in the Middle East are of exceptional quality and we are delighted to be working alongside one of the region’s leading clubs on this expansion,” Chapleski said.

“It is a progressive move and one we wholeheartedly support. We are also delighted for Jamie, who has been exceptional over several years already. I’m confident he, and the new Claude Harmon ③ Performance Golf Academy Dubai, will thrive at The Els Club Dubai.”


Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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