“I look back on 2022 at Golf Saudi with a huge amount of pride. Each year, we are bringing more and more Saudi golfers into the game for the first time and as a result we are really seeing the strong growth of the game here in the Kingdom. This is particularly true when it comes to women’s golf and our priority in 2023 remains to raise the profile of women’s golf further and give them the rewards they deserve. Showcasing the best female golfers in the world as role models is integral to the game’s growth and increasing participation.” —Majed Al Sorour, Deputy Chairman and CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi
In 2020, as part of Golf Saudi’s commitment to the development and growth of the golf industry — within the sporting framework of the Saudi Vision 2030 for the Kingdom — Golf Saudi created the world’s first golf-centred National Sustainability Strategy to ensure the organisation met the ambitious goals set out in the Kingdom. This connected strategy is tasked with ensuring that the fledgling golf industry prioritises providing development and participation opportunities for the population in Saudi Arabia, sound environmental practice as well as exploring investment opportunities and a commitment for developments to operate economically, this is done through the social, green and economic agendas.
Golf Saudi has been working endlessly to ensure participation and employment opportunities are created to allow the Saudi national population to directly benefit from the golf industry. Specific goals aligned to the long term roll-out of golf facilities planned and being built currently have been set out to meet the demands of the industry through its social agenda.
At its core, this is a socially inspired and educationally motivated movement, allowing for the creation of education, employment and leisure opportunities for Saudis from all age groups and walks of life through ensuring all golf access is legacy driven, culturally bound and community minded.
An major ‘Education and Mass Participation’ plan has been rolled out which will focus on the ‘upskilling’ of the workforce and provide society with the positive human development aspects such as mental, physical and behavioural benefits as well as the wellbeing improvement that golf provides through its enriched outdoor, natural and social-participation setting.
The social agenda has set out to ensure 3.9 million Saudi nationals try golf for the first time, the organic creation of 35,500 registered golfers across a variety of different venues and the creation of 2,500 jobs for trained Saudi nationals by 2026.
The goal of education is learning, and the goal of training is performance, and with this in mind Golf Saudi created and launched the world’s first ‘Arabic Golf Education and Training Programme’ to populate the roles within the current facilities in the Kingdom and the many future golf developments with a Saudi national workforce to satisfy growth and developing an all-important ecosystem that will drive job creation and ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.
“Sustainability has formed a permanent basis in every work-related project to golf development in the Kingdom,” said His Excellency Yasir Al Rumayyan, the Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Golf Federation and the Chairman of Golf Saudi.
The programme’s educational framework introduces the business of club management in addition to teaching transferable skills that will support each participant in becoming more efficient and effective leaders. It encompasses a series of courses and learning opportunities designed not only for those currently working within the golf industry as corporate office support staff, club managers, supervisors and club staff, but also tailored to attract a non-golf audience to start their career in the industry — whether they be students leaving university seeking a career in club management, or established business managers seeking a new challenge.
With the vast golf product mix emerging in Saudi Arabia, there are opportunities in each sector of the golf industry, from the wide variety of urban golf assets such as social putting experiences, adventure golf courses, indoor simulator venues, large entertainment driving ranges and academies, to the extensive green grass facilities such as short courses to engage newcomers
all the way to the high-end, world-class golf
The first step in the Golf Saudi Education and Training programme was the creation of the club industry management pathway. Aimed at creating the club specific management talent of the fast-developing Club industry, Golf Saudi partnered with the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE), the foremost experts in the development of club industry leaders.
This unique education has been designed specifically for the Saudi landscape and allows learners to commence their journey at the ground level with a holistic learning of the what, why, where, how and who of the golf industry business through the ‘Introduction to Golf’ level. Following this, club staff are developed through the ‘Foundation Skills’, ‘Supervisory and Team Leadership’ and the ‘Pre-Management Development Programme’ levels, which upon completion allows access to CMAE’s extensive MDP programme, where Club Management Diplomas and Certified Club Manager accreditation can be gained.
Some 20 Saudi nationals working at Golf Saudi-managed properties have already commenced their Club Management education journey and will enter the Supervisory and Team Leadership level in early 2023.
Further steps currently in development are the Agronomy and Golf Coaches educational pathways of the Education and Training programme to ensure not only are the future courses are being built and maintained by nationals but also players are being developed by culturally appropriate, Arabic-speaking coaching talent.
Introducing a new sport to an entire nation is no easy feat. The development of a culture of golf requires an extensive strategy that covers all corners of society as Golf Saudi aims to avoid any of the common misconceptions that golf carries, where it may be seen as a sport that is not for everyone.
To fostering the initial interest in golf and commence the journey to becoming an active golfer, Golf Saudi has created an entire Mass Participation department. This growing team of Saudi national coaches provides touch points to golf at no cost to ensure golf is seen as a sport that anyone can play and learn in the most culturally appropriate Arabic environment.
The strength is in recognising the importance of creating and developing modern touch points — at home, at school and in everyday life — to ensure the fundamentals of the great game are introduced and a culture of awareness is created away from on-course activities for all Saudis of all ages across the entire Kingdom and how that facilitates the early steps of falling in love with the game.
Golf is now accessible through the national school physical education curriculum with the aim of having 135,000 students in schools across all 13 regions of the Kingdom playing the game by 2026. Furthermore, university students can gain access to golf in their facilities through coaching and event play using screen technology such as golf simulators — a good way to beat the summer heat!
In addition to these, the team travels across the country holding mass-event activations in high footfall areas such as malls, parks, sporting events and concerts to engage with huge sectors of the population allowing everyone the opportunity to see, try and become more aware of the vast benefits of participating in the sport.
The organisation wants everyone in society to have complete access to all its golf facilities. Saudi’s are free to visit any golf club just as they are free to visit any other public facility across Saudi Arabia where they can engage in the next step of the pathway where they can take their learning even further through the ‘Let it Fly’ programme at any of the Golf Saudi Academies.
These beginners have complimentary access to a five-stage golf development programme delivered by qualified PGA Professionals and assisted by Saudi national coache,s who themselves are on their own coach development pathway. New golfers develop a higher level of skill and knowledge and spurring on further interest where organic growth is created and the goal of populating the country with registered golfers in the wide array of facilities can be accomplished.