This year, Sean Gunn has temporarily left his operations job at Castle Stuart Golf Links to take up an internship at the renowned Emirates Golf Club in Dubai as part of his career development.
In his second blog on his new role, he describes some of the differences he has faced after swapping the Moray Firth for the Middle East desert.
TEEING UP AN EXCITING JANUARY
I’m still coming to terms with working on a golf resort in January in such warm weather. The temperature is averaging mid 20s daily at this time of year, which is just right for me.
It’s actually got cooler since I arrived, as before the temperature was in the low 30s daily, with relatively high humidity. Both morning and evenings can now become chillier, with temperatures usually around 10C or possibly below.
I can hear people back home in the Highlands saying that 10C is still t-shirt weather! But I can assure you when you’re used to the day temperatures, it definitely becomes jumper weather come night time here, although it’s still a lot warmer than back home, where it is consistently below 0 and there has been some heavy snow.
Not long before I arrived, the Majlis course underwent an overseeding process. This is crucial to a healthy course over the peak season months when the weather here is cooler. So just before I got here the Majlis experienced the change from Bermuda grass to Rye. This was a massive project which saw the course closed for about a week, and it opened during my second week here.
Being able to see the transformation, from duller green coloured fairways to what it looks like now when the course is tournament-ready, is just unreal! I am certainly finding the golf course maintenance side of the industry really interesting and I’m sure I will get the opportunity to ask Craig, our course superintendent, more on this process so I can understand it better.
There are some major differences on the course to what I’m used to back home. For example, on the Majlis course, which is currently walking only, water coolers are placed on either every hole, or every second hole, to allow golfers to stay hydrated. Although this is more for the summer months, when temperatures are consistently in the 40s, it highlights the contrast to playing at home at this is time of year when sometimes you’re not sure whether the course will be playable due to overnight frost.
The team here at the Emirates is substantially bigger than back home, but I feel that it still has that family feel.
Communication skills are vital and something I’m working on, not only because of the size of the workforce, but also the number of different nationalities that work here. I believe that spread over the whole of Dubai golf there are around 40 different nationalities that come to work, and it makes things very demanding but also rewarding. I’m also doing more writing and have been trusted to write up our post tournament press releases.
My arrival coincided with the first of our high-profile events, the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic, an event I was very keen to be a part of. Having had the experience at Castle Stuart of seeing what a Scottish Open was like from an organisational point of view, I was excited to see how the ladies’ tournament would compare.
During the Ladies Open my colleagues Rhys and Cian were involved in the marshalling and refereeing of the tournament, as well as helping the main sponsor Omega with some of their tournament social media. Another really cool thing I got to be a part of was a challenge clip for the Ladies European Tour, where players drew a club out of a hat and had to play the floodlit 18th hole on the Faldo course using only that club. I was brought in to caddy for one of the pros, getting to chat with the players and reps from the tour. Something I won’t forget in a hurry!
All in all, I found it to be a fair bit more relaxed than a men’s European Tour event, mainly due to the field and the crowds being slightly smaller. But it gave me a good insight and will help me prepare for the Desert Classic later this month. This is shaping up to be a LOT busier!
Another memorable event I was lucky enough to play in was our Member Colleague Scramble. This was quite an important one for me, to both help get to know my colleagues better, and also get the chance to form a relationship with the members.
During December, playing days are very long. The Faldo course easily caters for more than 200 golfers per day, from 6.45am through to 11pm, with the Majlis seeing up to 140 players per day prior to the event.
But we are also keeping our eyes on the end of January. This is when the European Tour comes to town for the Dubai Desert Classic, with the likes of Rory McIlroy and the rest of the top players in the world coming to club.
It all adds to the buzz about the club. January is a hectic month, but that’s what I signed up for, and I am excited to be part of it.