Next week Egypt will witness the most important ladies golf tournament ever played here. Golfers from 17 African countries will vie for the title of top amateur ladies golfer, now held by Egypt s own Naela El Attar. Will this mark the beginning of serious growth in ladies golf in Egypt?
Ten years ago golf in Egypt was almost entirely the preserve of Egyptian men, playing in Alexandria and the Gezirah Club. Some foreigners played at Mena House, but very few. Lady golfers could probably have been counted on the fingers of one s hands.
Times have certainly changed.
The advent of 12 new courses (with another 10 opening in the next two years or so) has seen the number of golfers grow rapidly. Golf in Egypt launched a series of tournaments in January, supported by Vodafone, and at the halfway point there are more than 400 competitors vying for the grand prizes of attending the granddaddy of professional golf, the Open at Royal Birkdale near Manchester, England, courtesy of Vodafone.
The number of competitors is not surprising, but the 130 women playing in the Vodafone Golf Series has confounded even the most active lady golfers.
To be sure, only about 20 percent of the players are Egyptians; the rest are foreign residents, many from the Far East.
We have told you about Naela El Attar, the young lady from Alexandria who hopes to become the first professional golfing woman in Egypt. Now we will tell you about two other lady golfers who are making their mark in our fair country.
The first is the product of an Egyptian mother and an Italian father, Donia Scarello. When Naela comes home from the US to defend her African Ladies title at Katameya Heights next week, her most serious competitor will no doubt be Donia Scarello.
Donia just won the Mirage City Ladies Open last Friday with two rounds in the 70 s. She also shot a 75 at Dreamland a day later to take that Ladies title. She led her younger brother Taymour and her father Maurizio to the Nation s Cup title at Katameya Heights last month. (To be fair, her brother won the Dreamland Men s title with a 73, beating out one of Egypt s best golfers by a stroke).
And now, lady golfers in Egypt will have their very own teaching professional, Lucinda, who has just joined the golfing staff of the beautiful Orascom course at Taba Heights.
Lucinda took up golf at age 12, encouraged by her father (handicap 5). Now, just 10 years later, she is the first female golf professional in Egypt.
The youngest of three daughters, Lucinda quickly developed her game. By age 15, she was selected as a member of the under 18 England Regional Training Squad. She holds the course record (68) on her home course of Peterborough Milton. In 2004, Lucinda won a full golfing scholarship to Western Carolina University in the US, and played on their Division I Ladies College Golf team.
But Lucinda s interests drifted away from playing towards the business of golf and in 2005 she transferred to the University of Birmingham in the UK where she studied applied golf management, graduating with honors in March 2008. The degree covered all aspects of sports science – psychology, business, events management, and coaching.
During her time at Birmingham she became captain of the women’s golf team and played for England in the British Universities Home International Tournament in 2006 and 2007. She was undefeated in match play against teams from Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Lucinda was nominated as Sports Woman of the Year in 2005 and 2007. She now has achieved both levels 1 and 2 of the PGA coaching qualifications.
Three young women making their mark in the golfing world in Egypt. It is hard to predict whether a significant number of Egyptian women will take up golf. But why not? Many professions that are dominated by women in Egypt today were not really open to women just a few decades ago.
As the middle class expands, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians will make their way to the suburbs escaping the crowds, the traffic, and the pollution that dominate present-day Cairo. Women will spend more of their leisure time at the growing number of clubs, many of which have golf courses.
Ten years from now, Naela, Donia and Lucinda may well be seen as pioneers in professional ladies golf in Egypt