Open Venue Turnberry Set For Dubai Takeover

The Middle East, led by Dubai, is becoming increasingly influential in global golf. While there are no golfers of note from the region, there is, however, plenty of money.

And much of this cash has gone into the greening of the desert and the recognition of golf as a vital tool to lure tourists.

There are several tournaments in the Middle East sanctioned by the European Tour, which itself will rename its Order of Merit competition the Race to Dubai from November this year.

It is part of a qualifying process for the 2009 season-ending Dubai World Championship, the world’s richest tournament with $10 million in prize money and $2 million going to the winner.

The top 60 golfers in the Race will qualify for the tournament as the European Tour tries to compete with the PGA Tour for prize money and prestige.

Earlier this year, Dubai financiers joined forces with the Europeans to host the first Tour-sanctioned event in India, much to the anger of the Asian Tour, which eventually settled on a deal for joint sanctioning.

Now, the Dubai-based sovereign fund that is financing the Race to Dubai is set to buy the Turnberry golf resort, which is due to host next year’s British Open, for 55 million pounds.

According to a Press Association report, Leisurecorp, a subsidiary of the Dubai World fund, has agreed to buy the Ayrshire venue from current owners Starwood, one of the world’s largest hotel and leisure businesses.

Turnberry has staged the British Open three times in the past and has two 18-hole championships courses – the Ailsa and Kintyre. It is also home to the nine-hole Arran course and the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy.

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