Richard Plays the Race to Dubai Pro Am with Alexander Levy
Having formally been a professional golfer and played in some well-established tournaments in the past, I was still very much looking forward to the Pro-Am and having the chance to test my golf against the best golfers from the European Tour that season.
Played annually on Greg Norman’s Earth Course design at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the tournament featured a stellar line-up of European Tour stars, competing to become the Tour’s ‘Golfer of the Year’.
Located in the vibrant city-state of Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates is one of the region’s most prestigious golf complexes, which has hosted the prestigious event since it was established in 2009.
Richard playing the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course
In addition to two Greg Norman-designed Championship layouts in the Earth and Fire courses, the resort boasts a luxury residential community, a state-of-the-art clubhouse and the first European Tour Performance Institute in the Middle East, which offers world-class training facilities for elite professional and amateur golfers alike – making it the destination of choice for players and fans around the world.
A few days before the Pro-Am I was eagerly anticipating the draw to come out, so I could see which pro I was playing with. Would it be Rory, Stenson, Rose, or maybe Westwood and I was very happy to get to play with Alexander Levy from France.
Richard with Alexander Levy and Jon the Caddy
Alex had already won several tournaments on the tour and was pushing very hard to try and make the Ryder Cup team, which was, of course, going to be played in his home country.
It was soon the morning of the Pro-Am and I thought to get there early as I wasn’t too sure what to expect and wanted to also make the most of what was sure to be a fantastic day.
As I was only living just around the corner from Jumeirah Golf Estates at The Els Club, my caddie Jon and I made the short drive to Jumeirah Golf Estates and we were greeted with a fantastically ‘Rolex’ welcome, with Rolex being the title sponsor of the event.
On check-in, we were given all the best gear as you’d expect, breakfast and then galaxy of sport and showbiz stars opened the prestigious tournament. The star-studded Pro-Am field also included former England footballers, ex-Formula 1 drivers, singers and Hollywood stars.
Possibly the best part of the day was when I walked to the driving range, there was Sergio Garcia (fresh off his Masters win), Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood, all hitting balls right next to each other! My caddie and I must have been 5 yards right behind them watching (mainly Sergio) crush ball after ball. If you’re into TrackMan numbers like I am, it was mightily impressive but also made me feel that my +2 handicap was rather inadequate at the same time, surely I’m a better putter I was thinking!!
With the event being a shotgun start we started on hole 10, a relatively short par 4 and I’ll not lie, I was slightly nervous! Thankfully, I managed to hit a good drive and away we went.
Having previously played the Pro-Am at the Oman Open, I was aware of the slightly strange format of which you can select any drive of the four of the tee shots and then each player play their own ball from that spot, this certainly helped when Alex got his driver out downwind!
We played very nicely but in the end, we were just pipped into second place. However, it was very nice to be part of the prize giving with the legendary Dougie Donnelly presenting our Rolex trophy and prizes.
Alex and his caddy were absolute superstars all day long, really made the three guests feel calm and welcome, I’m pretty sure I hit one drive further than him too!
Having played the Earth course on multiple occasions before, it was set-up extremely difficult that week and to then see Jon Rahm win the tournament with 19 under par was just astounding.
Overall it was a great experience and a day to remember. The Race to Dubai Final at Jumeirah Golf Estates is a phenomenal week for golf enthusiasts, the course is amazing, you can literally walk around right next to the players and watch the action up close and personal.
If you have the time at the end of November each year, it makes for a brilliant holiday. Check out the Race to Dubai holiday package I’ve put together, including tickets to the championship and 3 rounds of golf.