A group of aspiring young Omani golfers were treated to the experience of a lifetime when they were joined in a three-hole contest by three stars of the European Challenge Tour as part of the build-up to this week's prestigious NBO Golf Classic Grand Final.
The Challenge Tour's season-ending tournament, taking place at the spectacular Almouj Golf in Muscat from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5, November, will see the top 45 players on the Road to Oman Rankings compete for a €400,000 prize fund with the top 15 ranked players at the conclusion of the tournament promoted to play on the elite European Tour next season.
The importance of National Bank of Oman's tournament cannot be understated - offering, as it does, a life–changing opportunity for the professionals who take part to reach the top level of the sport.
But an equally crucial element of the bank's on-going sponsorship of the event is a commitment to growing the game of golf at grassroots level in the Sultanate and the NBO Golf Classic Junior Challenge Match, a joint initiative by NBO, the Oman Golf Committee and the European Challenge Tour, saw eight Omani juniors joined by Marcus Armitage, Reinier Saxton and Nick Cullen to take part in the fun three-hole contest that will live long in their memories and hopefully inspire them to follow in the footsteps of their esteemed playing partners.
All three groups were tied on 10 shots after the three holes meaning a 'chip off' was needed to decide the winner, with the group Armitage, Ayman Al Busaidi and Tariq Al Zubair emerging victorious.
"Young kids are the future of the game, so initiatives like this are great," said Foshan Open winner Armitage, who is currently in 11th place in the Road to Oman Rankings. "When we get grey and old these kids will be taking our place so it's fantastic to see them having fun and enjoying a game of golf."
Lee O'Donoghue, Director of the Oman Golf Committee said: "Golf is now growing as a sport in Oman. The kids who played today are part of our National Development Squad and future members of the Oman National Team so this was a fantastic experience for them. They were all announced on to the first tee by an 'official starter' and cheered on by a decent little crowd so it was great for them to have a taste of what it's like to compete in a real tournament.
"Having the Challenge Tour players playing alongside them really gives them something aspire to."
Ayman Al Busaidi of the winning team said: "I really enjoyed playing with Marcus today, he's a really good player and I think he has a great chance of winning the Challenge Tour tournament this week."