Deeba Hasan sits down with one of Oman’s top golfers, Azzan al Rumhy, who shares his passion for the sport as well as his aspirations for the future
As I walked towards the clubhouse at the Ghala Valley Golf Club to interview Azzan al Rumhy, I saw him arrive in a golf cart. He was dressed in a t-shirt, white trousers and white cap – very “golf-like”, I thought to myself. But then again, I would expect nothing less from one of Oman’s top golfers, a man who won the Muscat Open Golf Championship at the age of 19 and has toiled on courses around the region to become what he is today.
“I started playing golf in 1998, when I was 14,” Azzan says. “My father was already playing golf back then and seeing him play gave me the inspiration to pursue the sport.”
Azzan also drew inspiration from perhaps one of the sport’s most famous names: “I remember when Tiger Woods started becoming popular because he was one of the few young golfers.” It was only when Woods won the Masters in 1997 that Azzan realised golf was not exclusively for older people and from that moment, he was hooked. Azzan recently had the opportunity to meet with his golfing hero at a competition in Abu Dhabi, where he was acting as his father’s caddie. “My father was invited to play at that tournament and I was lucky enough to be his caddie. Because of that, I was able to meet Tiger Woods who was also playing at the same tournament.”
Now 30 years old, Azzan has been playing for the Oman National Golf Team for 12 years and the sport has come a long way since he first picked up a club. Azzan reflects upon those early days, saying: “When I started, there were no grass courses in Oman – we had to play on sand. There were also no professional coaches at that time either and I had to go to Dubai in order to learn and practice on grass. “I think everyone has their own struggles with anything they start doing, Tiger Woods must’ve had his struggles and I had mine. It’s all about working hard and staying in the game.” Golf runs in Azzan’s blood, with his father, uncle and younger brother all involved in the sport. “Whenever we travelled abroad for vacations, we all played together and I think it was wonderful.” Azzan hopes his own children will uphold the tradition. “I want my son to play golf and I would like to play with him,” says Azzan, who thinks that the father and son bonding he experienced through the sport was very helpful. “It helped us get close and it helped me not get distracted, especially in my teenage years.” The father of two has also purchased a golf club set for his four-year-old daughter to play with.
In his youth, Azzan was also part of the Junior Tennis team of Oman, representing the Sultanate at international events. Seeking more of a balance, Azzan quit tennis in 1998. “I thought golf was more challenging, plus you also get to play at different types of golf courses.” Keen to pass on his skills and knowledge to the next generation of golfers, Azzan is looking at creating his own academy in the future, which would allow students to play golf while also studying regular school subjects. Before that, though, Azzan still has competitive goals he wishes to achieve in the sport. “I want to win the GCC Golf championship individually. I was very close to doing that last year and came fourth, but I am hoping to finish first in Kuwait. Azzan’s advice to those who want to become golfers is to commit to the game. “I had friends who wanted to play, they came to me asking for clubs, which I gave them, but they didn’t bother coming after that. You need to love the game if you want to make a name for yourself.”
Looking ahead to the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, which begins today at Almouj Golf, The Wave, Azzan is very positive, “This will be my second time playing in the NBO Golf Classic. I am feeling confident and hope to qualify for the final two rounds of the tournament. I also thank NBO for sponsoring such a big golfing event here in Oman.”
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