Golf Course Architecture - Issue 60, April 2020

44 OP INION O ne thing was abundantly clear at the Golf Saudi Summit, held in February in King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: the kingdom is serious about developing golf. We heard about the planning of what they term as ‘giga projects’ (see box), the successful completion of their second European Tour event – the Saudi International Golf Championship at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club – and the launch of The Saudi Ladies International. While it may at first seem to be a bit of a pretentious term, ‘giga project’ is apt for these gigantic endeavours. They range in area from a few hundred square kilometres to thousands. It is not exactly clear where and when the golf elements within these projects will be ready for play, but there is a massive effort under way to not only develop places to play but to build what Jed Moore, managing director of Performance54, who is heading up the golf marketing for Saudi, says is a “modern golf ecosystem.” Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, says the kingdom plans to become the most innovative market in golf within the next ten years. Golf Saudi and partners are literally building a golf industry from the barest of deserts both figuratively and in some cases literally. He is a force of nature and deeply passionate about the prospect. Stressing that golf is good for business, Al Sorour believes that golf can provide a direct boost to the Kingdom’s GDP, as well as creating lucrative jobs. But Sam Sakocius reports from the recent Golf Saudi Summit on the ambitious plans to make the Gulf kingdom a major player in the world golf market From the ground up, in every sense SAM SAKOC IUS