With each passing day, the highly anticipated inaugural Emirates Amateur Golf League (EAGL) is getting closer to reality. The world’s first franchise-based amateur league tournament is set to dazzle the UAE’s golf scene towards the end of the 2021, and the wheels are fully in motion in preparation for the gargantuan event which will involve eight teams of 24 players each competing on a round-robin basis.
The tournament, which is sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), has also been able to garner the support of Asia Pacific Golf Confederation.
Chairman Taimur Hassan attended the gala unveiling party in January and called the EAGL concept, “a game-changer for amateur golf, which we will be happy to take to our 43 APGC countries.”
Having raised the expectations to a lofty level, Sudesh Aggarwal, the brain behind the tournament and EAGL Commissioner, is a busy man these days, ensuring that the nitty-gritties are taken care of. Sitting in his Jumeirah Lake Towers office, the highly successful businessman and passionate golfer spends the day pouring over numbers and perfecting presentations.
Aggarwal, who founded the multi-million dollar Giant Group of Industries, said the origin of his thought was to do something on a higher level than corporate golf days. He felt these events were becoming monotonous and not achieving much of the objectives for the amount spent.
“I am invited to play many of these events, and it does not give a good feeling when I observe how little the sponsors are getting back as their return on investment from these single-day events. The recall value is limited and there is nothing more for the amateurs than some good prizes and a great dinner at the end of the day.”
“I wanted a tournament which becomes meaningful for the participants throughout the year. I wanted something that forces them to get better and feel proud about what they have achieved. And, most importantly, I wanted the sponsors to get the maximum bang for the buck that they were spending.”
With EAGL, Aggarwal feels both the objectives can be met. The participants are going to experience an almost professional tournament-like atmosphere, starting from the way the golf course is set up, to corporate hospitality lounges and the big Unique Selling Proposition of the tournament – at least 40 hours of live broadcast during the inaugural season.
As much as the EAGL promises to be a cracker of a competitive experience for the leading amateur golfers in the UAE and beyond (handicap limit is set at 14), it is an equally impressive business opportunity for branding, marketing, client development, networking, PR and entertainment for the country’s leading brands and corporates.
“I have no doubts in my mind that the most important stakeholders for the sustainability of EAGL are the team holders and the leading sponsors,” said Aggarwal, who will be approaching potential buyers in the next few weeks.
“The way we have structured the benefits, we are giving close to four million dirhams of tangible benefits to the team owners and sponsors. But what should appeal to them more is that we are giving them a platform to leverage networking, promotion and PR opportunities for at least 11 specific days (nine match days, opening and closing ceremonies), and throughout the whole year if they so want.
“We are hoping that we will be able to start paying the team owners from the sponsorship pool from the first year itself. Also, the valuation of the teams is going to increase every year. However, the biggest motivation for team owners should be the pride of owning a team and the satisfaction of helping and guiding the process of creating champions.”
Aggarwal has also roped in three-time Asian Tour champion and winner of Challenge Tour Grand Finale in Dubai in 2013, Shiv Kapur, as the tournament’s brand ambassador. The Indian ace is an Asian Games gold medallist and had promoted something similar back home with the first Golf Premier League, which involved five Major champions, including Darren Clarke and Argentine Angel Cabrera.
Kapur felt the way EAGL was conceptualised gave corporates direct contact with amateur players and their friends who would form the most desirable target audience for any company.
“If I look at it from a sponsor’s point of view, if a luxury car company is sponsoring a professional golf tournament, they’re hoping to get the TV coverage and the eyeballs of the fans watching these events,” said Kapur.
“The professional golfer is not necessarily their end consumer. It’s the viewers, the fans that companies want to woo, and they are actually inside the ropes in the EAGL. So, you have a direct link to your clients.”