The MENA Tour will make a maiden journey to Jordan and is also set to take its flagship $100,000 Tour Championship to a new venue later in October.

The new  ‘Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship’ and the lofty elevation of Ajman’s Al Zorah Golf Club to season-ending Tour Championship status highlight the tour’s six-tournament “post summer” schedule unveiled Monday.

Dubai Creek, The Els Club Dubai, Yas Links (Abu Dhabi) and Sahara Golf & Country Club in Kuwait return, meaning the 7th MENA Tour season will ultimately offer its pro-am members 16 tournaments (including Q-School) across six countries with a total purse of US$673,000 (AED 2.47 million). But it’s the official world ranking points and European, Asian and PGA Tour exemptions on offer, as much as the money, which is helping the developmental Middle East and North Africa circuit continually spread its wings.

MENA Tour chairman Mohamed Juma Buamaim is “delighted” to welcome Jordan to the fold as the MENA Tour chips away at getting an Arab golfer to the Olympic Games. It will be hosted at the new Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Resort, the country’s first all-grass 18-holer, in Aqaba.

“We are also excited to be making our first visit to Al Zohra for the season finale which, for the first time, will be a 72-hole affair,” Buamaim said. “Their [Al Zorah’s] support is a reflection on the strides being made by the tour in putting the region on the sporting map. I am sure our members will have a memorable experience playing on the Nicklaus-design layout.”

Al Zorah replaces Muscat Hills Golf & CC as host of the October 23-26 Tour Championship. Another Oman event, the Ghala Open, and the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open at the now closed Al Badia GC in Dubai are also missing from last year’s summer schedule.

The Tour Championship will be contested by the top 50 professionals and 10 leading amateurs in what is shaping as a tight order of merit (OOM) points race.

Al Zorah GC in Ajman

Jamie Elson, who has played all nine main tour events thus far, currently leads the pro OOM from fellow Englishmen Luke Joy and veteran Andrew Marshall while Brazil’s Dubai-based Tiago Lobo sits atop the amateur points standings by two points from England’s Sam Hobday.

But with nine first time winners this season, there is much to play for including a start in the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion) as well as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia and KLM Open during the wrap-around 2017-18 European Tour schedule. Playing privileges on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the final stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools are also up for grabs.

“With each event producing a new winner, including Netherland’s Pierre Junior Verlaar, who became the second amateur after Rayhan [2016 Dubai Creek Open champion Rayhan Thomas] to win a MENA Tour event, the first-half of the season turned out to be a great success, further amplifying the strength of the tour.

“With Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points on offer, I see big things for the MENA Tour. If it keeps going the way it is, it’s a huge pathway for someone from this region to qualify for the Olympics. It gives young professionals much-needed experience, which is difficult to gain.”

An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.

2017 MENA Tour – Post summer schedule
Sept 11-13: The Dubai Creek Open
Venue: at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. Purse: US$50,000

Sept 18-20: The Golf Citizen Classic
Venue: Els Club Dubai. Purse: US$30,000

Sept 25-27: The Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open
Venue: Yas Links GC. Purse: US$50,000

Oct 5-7: Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship
Venue: Ayla Golf Resort (Aqaba). Purse: US$50,000

Oct 16-18: The Sahara Kuwait Golf Championship
Venue: Sahara Golf & County Club. Purse: US$50,000

Oct 23-26: The MENA Tour Championship
Venue: Al Zorah GC (Ajman). Purse: $100,000

Completed events
March 6-9: 2017 Qualifying School, El Jadida Golf Club, Morocco
Winner – Jack Doherty (SCO)

March 14-16: Palmeraie Country Club Casablanca Open
Winner – Leo Lilja (SPN)

March 19-21: Royal Golf Mohammedia Open
Winner – Pierre Junior Verlaar (NED/Amateur)

April 24-26: Ras Al Khaimah Classic
Winner – Peter Stojanovski (AUS)

Thailand Swing
May 2-4: Mahasamutr Masters
Winner – Jazz Janewattananond (THAI)

May 8-10: Mountain Creek Open by Golf Citizen
Winner – Lionel Weber (FRA)

May 16-19: Pattana Golf Championship*
Winner – Fredrik From (SWE)

South African Swing
June 7-9: South to East Challenge
Winner – Breyten Meyer (RSA)

June 13-15: Jo’burg City Masters
Winner – Jaco Prinsloo (RSA)

June 20-22: The Roar
Winner – Daniel Hammond (RSA)

*72-hole event reduced to 36 holes due to inclement weather