Marcus Casey has been the Official Coach for the Oman National Team for the past three years and in that time he has seen the standard of golf steadily improve to the point where the Team can produce creditable performances at international level.
“I think last year’s inaugural National Bank of Oman Golf Classic has made a significant impact on the progress of Omani Nationals and ex-pats in the Sultanate, particularly among the juniors and within the Oman National Team,” said Casey.
“The Challenge Tour event also highlighted Oman as a golfing holiday destination and helped show what a great honour it is for Omani golfers to represent their country in the National Team. After last year’s tournament I sat down with the Team and we went through the difference in standard between the professional European Challenge Tour players and themselves. The National Bank of Oman Golf Classic has certainly assisted in the progress and improvement of the Oman National Team.
“Golfers like Azaan Al Rumhy realised from the experience of playing in the tournament at Almouj Golf, The Wave,Muscat last October, that he had to change his technique and improve various areas of his game to compete at a higher level. The good thing about the event and Azaan was that he understood that he had to ‘up’ his game. Once players understand what they need to do to improve, then you’re halfway in getting them there.
“The manner in which the Team played in the recent Asian Games in Korea was very gratifying for me. The performances of Azaan Al Rumhy and Hamood Al Harthy were very good and the Team has been developing nicely.
“Hamood has put in a lot of hard work over the past 12 months. It was very pleasing to see how he played in Korea. I always knew he was capable of playing that well but it was still rewarding to see. He’s been gradually working at his game and his first three rounds in the Asian Games were very good indeed.
“We could do with another couple of players capable of making the Team but we’re trying to involve as many potential Team members as possible. We’re hoping to introduce a new,exciting junior golf initiative into the schools, which will create more interest and more players.
“The existing schools programme is working OK but it could be better. When the new programme comes on board we can expect to see many more Arab National juniors taking part in the game. The local participation by the Nationals is not as enthusiastic as it is among the ex-pats but we are trying to change their outlook on golf.
“We are endeavouring to explain to the juniors that golf is a game to enjoy anda game they can excel in and have a lot of fun playing. We have made great strides already but there is still much more that needs to be done. We began working with a blank canvas. Sometimes that can be an advantage but although golf has been played in Oman for many years there is no great tradition of the game as there is in the UK or the United States.
“The player’s work ethic is one of the most important aspects of the game and we need to get that message across to the youngsters. We have to try to convince them that to improve their game they have to put in the hard hours on the practice range. But we’re gradually getting there.
“It will be interesting to see how they match up to the Challenge Tour players in this second edition of the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic at Almouj later this month.”