Fi­nal Shot

Oth­man Alum­lla, the first Saudi Ara­bian golfer to qual­ify and play in a ma­jor Euro­pean Tour event, talks about how he started play­ing golf and his play­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in HK.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Louie Chan

When and how did you start play­ing golf?

I started play­ing golf when I was 14 years old. I used to play soc­cer, which is mas­sive in Saudi Ara­bia. I lived and grew up in a ex­pats com­mu­nity at Dha­ran, Eastern prov­ince of Saudi Ara­bia, as my par­ents worked for Saudi Aramco. One of my Amer­i­can friends used to play soc­cer with me sug­gested play­ing golf to­gether. So, I said OK. Back then, we didn’t have grass golf courses, and we just had sand golf courses. You have a white chalk line along the fair­way, and we have to carry around a turf mat. We hit it off the mat on the fair­way.

I’m very com­pet­i­tive by na­ture. I used to beat all of my friends who have played golf for many years. They gave me a driver and a put­ter, so I could prac­tice putting ev­ery day to get bet­ter. Then I talked to my par­ents as I wanted a new set of golf clubs. I wanted to play and con­tin­ued to prac­tice. For a year af­ter that, I con­tin­ued to prac­tice three times a week. And I was lucky enough to meet Ali Bal­harith, the na­tional team cap­tain. He played a big part of golf in Saudi Ara­bia for 15 years. We kind of set up the first ju­nior team in the coun­try. We went for train­ing camps in Dubai.

When I was 16, I broke into the first team and rep­re­sented Saudi Ara­bia since then. Such a priv­i­lege and hon­our to present my own coun­try. I would love to con­tinue to do this.

What’s the high­light of your ca­reer so far?

I have been very lucky. I was for­tu­nate to play in some very pres­ti­gious events. Be there and see the Saudi flag fly­ing there. I won some good re­gional tour­na­ments. In 2016, my team won the Pan Arab Cham­pi­onship, which is the big­gest team event in the re­gion, where the Arab na­tions send their best golfers. We won the tour­na­ment first time in 40 years. That’s one of my high­lights.

And I was able to play the Euro­pean Tour in 2007 when I teed off in the same tour­na­ment (Dubai Desert Clas­sic) with Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Hen­rik Sten­son. I would say that was one of the mass high­lights in my life. Be­cause I started play­ing on sand, and then I was play­ing a Euro­pean Tour event, I could never have imag­ined that.

Another high­light will be the Euro­pean Tour tour­na­ment in Saudi Ara­bia (to be held in Jan 2019), it’s in­cred­i­ble. To say it as a dream can­not even jus­tify it, be­cause even in my dream it won’t hap­pen. And a world-class venue like the Royal Greens Golf and Coun­try Club here. It’s amaz­ing.

Do you have a favourite course?

My favourite in Saudi Ara­bia will be Royal Greens. Royal Mel­bourne is prob­a­bly my favourite over­sea golf course I have played. I have also played in the Hong Kong Golf Club. It’s so beau­ti­ful! How they treat it as a golf club, and the golf course it­self. I was lucky enough to tag along with the guys at the Clear­wa­ter Bay Golf and Coun­try Club dur­ing the Asi­aPa­cific Am­a­teur Cham­pi­onship 3 to 4 years ago. It’s one of the most pic­turesque golf courses in the world. In­cred­i­ble. And the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Hong Kong Golf As­so­ci­a­tion and Saudi Ara­bian Golf Fed­er­a­tion has been very good be­cause they wel­comed us well when we came. We don’t for­get that.

Who would be in your dream four­ball?

Tiger Woods, who’s been my hero and I look up to him. I have been lucky to meet him a few times. Maybe Jack Nick­laus and Hideki Mat­suyama. We are worlds apart in Asia, but Hideki is the No.1 Asian player. It will be awe­some.

The 18th of Royal Greens Golf and Coun­try Club, Saudi Ara­bia

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