Exclusive: Sustainability and inclusion makes the DP World Tour Championship extra-special

Middle East Head Tom Phillips gives Khaleej Times the lowdown on a monumental team effort, incredible location and issues that are close to the organisers heart

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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The DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. - Getty Images
The DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. - Getty Images

Published: Sat 18 Nov 2023, 10:05 AM

The Middle East Head of the DP World Tour has sent out a powerful message that ‘golf is for everyone’ and is one of the most ‘inclusive’ sports in the world.

Speaking during the DP World Tour Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Tom Phillips talked about the event’s location, what makes it special and what goes on behind the scenes to host a mega-tournament that involves over 4,000 staff.

“A key message, not just here but across the wider tour, is that golf is a sport for everyone,” Phillips told Khaleej Times. “Golf is probably more inclusive than any other sport and what I love a lot about this event is the G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour is run during the same week.

“The players are here on merit, they are the top eight ranked in the world and are playing on the same Earth course as the main tour. This is promoting the message that golf is for everyone, and I think that’s a really strong message.”

Phillips was referencing the DP World Tour’s reinforced commitment to empowering disabled golfers through its new-look and expanded G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour which has attracted the world’s eight best handicapped golfers to Dubai in its 15th anniversary edition.

Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East for the DP World Tour, part of the European Tour group. - Instagram
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East for the DP World Tour, part of the European Tour group. - Instagram

“The DP World Tour Championship is the season-ending event and it’s the final Rolex event of the year,” he said. “I love the atmosphere, especially among the players, who have really earned their place here following a good season. Also, the atmosphere amongst the community and golf fans in Dubai is great.

“We are now coming into the golf season here in Dubai with a few more events to come across the winter on the DP World Tour, this event sort of kicks off the golf season in the Middle East,” added Phillip.

“The players love coming to Dubai, they love the Earth course, they love the hospitality and service they get here, we are always happy to welcome them back each year.”

But before the red carpet is rolled out and European stars like Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm arrive in Dubai hundreds of crew members set the scene for hordes of attendees at one of golf’s biggest events in the UAE and Middle East.

“It’s a four-day event but it takes months and months of planning in advance,” said Phillips. “Next Monday, we will be planning next year’s tournament already.

Thet Jumeirah Golf Estates. - AFP
Thet Jumeirah Golf Estates. - AFP

“Another thing people may not realise is the large number of staff behind the scenes; 100 core team, 400 volunteers, contractors/media/branding adds up to another 3000 people. There is probably a total of 4,000 people behind the scenes.”

Phillips also talked about the Earth course, whose last four holes have been referred to as the ‘most challenging mile in golf.’

“The course itself is a really strong golf course, strategically and visually with feedback from both players and fans, the course is in amazing condition every year we come here,” said Phillips.

“It’s also not just the golf course but its surroundings (that) lend itself so perfectly to a golf tournament of this magnitude, with the world-class range, putting area, hospitality and of course the golf course itself.

“But also, the destination as a whole is what attracts so many to the event,” he said.

“One of the many things unique about this event is that it is the same course every year, the players love coming to courses they know, and people love watching the same courses every year. Fans can reflect on ‘he won here’, ‘he hit this shot there’, it’s a nice feature of this tournament,” added Phillips.

The 18th hole at the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. - Getty Images
The 18th hole at the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. - Getty Images

Reflecting on how the DP World Tour Championship, the climax of the Race to Dubai, has evolved since its inception in 2009, Phillips commented: “The event has grown in so many ways. If you look at the prize money, $10.5 million they are playing for this week so that has grown dramatically since the start.

“You look at the infrastructure. Fifteen years ago the course was fairly new, the clubhouse wasn’t what it is now.

“So much in Dubai and the UAE has changed. Even the hotel the players now stay in, Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah, is a brand-new facility. Everything has changed here, everything has changed in Dubai,” he added.

“But we have kept that lovely atmosphere. It’s the season-ender, and the players are in the top 50 on the Race to Dubai, they’ve all had a great season and are happy to be here, but they’re still wanting to win the biggest event on our tour calendar so that hasn’t changed.”

Phillips also stressed the conscious efforts to keep the DP World Tour finale as eco-friendly as possible.

“An area we are really focused on is sustainability,” he said. “This year we have our sustainability facility, the Earth Lounge, a fully sustainable hospitality centre being run through hydrogen generators.

“We’ve got solar panels across the course, we are working with No More Bottles, having no single-use plastic bottles on site and we have been really focusing on that in the last number of years,” Philipps added.

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“It’s been a big success. Additionally, 75 per cent of the tournament waste is recycled through our partner, Averda. Some of the car fleets are electric through our partner BMW.

“We have really taken it to a new level this year,” he concluded.

leslie@khaleejtimes.com


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