Egyptian National Golf Team Key Players
The sport of golf has its own lovers and supporters. Some take the sport as a hobby, some as a professional sport, while some don’t care at all about the sport.
Sports & Fitnesstalks to some significant key players of the Egyptian national golf team about how they got into the sport, what it means to them and the future of the sport in Egypt.
Issa Abou El Ela
Issa Abou El Ela is Egypt’s only professional golfer. Golf is not just a profession to him, but an outlet. “Golf is time to myself and the ability to control my own emotions and outcome,” he shared.
“What attracted me to golf is that it’s a game where you try so hard to reach perfection, but it’s not possible. You can play well one day and struggle the next. How strong you are mentally is the main reason you understand how strong you are as a person. Golf is the best way to spend time with yourself. You can say that it is a form of meditation,” he expressed.
Abou El Ela has represented Egypt in many events starting at the age of 10 in Syria. “From there, I have been all over the world including Argentina, all over Europe, and many more places. I represented Egypt in multiple World Cups, Pan Arab events, and African championships,” he recalled of his experiences.
The most memorable event for Abou El Ela was the BMW Championship in Dubai. “I got to experience the tournament of a lifetime, playing amateurs from each country. What made the experience the greatest was that I got my dad to be a big part of the event, watching me and mentoring me all week, which led to an eventual win.”
Egypt’s professional golfer’s best world ranking was in the world top 500 in the world. He has also held the ranking of third in Africa and first in Egypt for a four-year span.
Like all his colleagues, Abou El Ela doesn’t agree that golf is considered to be a sport for the rich. “I think that golf is a very diverse game. It’s the job of community and outreach programs to help. Golf has many ups and downs financially, but from a leisure point of view, it would not be expensive. I just think it’s the job of a strong federation to help make it more affordable for people to play.”
Abou El Ela thinks that people in Egypt haven’t been educated on the sport yet. “With golf being a big sport abroad, it just needs to be understood better. In regard to the Middle East, it has been growing very well, and it’s about time that Egypt catches up to the trend.”
Abou El Ela has high hopes for the future of the sport. He shared, “Golf has to be able to do many different things to grow. Media coverage should be more on TV and there needs to be help investing in the young and upcoming generation of athletes. We need someone to lead by example and be the face of the ‘brand’ for golf in Egypt.”
Again, he agrees with his teammates that funding is the main obstacle facing the progress of golf in Egypt. “The Egyptian federation has issues in regard to funding and having players commit to the programs. But with the current team that is set, they will have a great opportunity to grow.”
He also believes that Egyptian golf in the Middle East is very strong historically and presently. Of Egyptian golf, he said, “We are ranked in the top, and the future looks bright to keep it that way. I am very hopeful that the game is going to grow. In Africa, the best year we had was when we were ranked third. However, we are not as strong as countries such as Swaziland and South Africa who produce a lot of talented athletes.”
The professional golfer is looking forward to the future of golf in Egypt and to himself personally. When asked about his future, he shared, “Where I see myself in the next few years is starting my professional career. I couldn’t maintain it due to COVID-19, but I am staying very hopeful. The goals for the game ahead is to just work hard and try to make it to the top levels.”
His favorite golfer that he looks up to is Amr Abou El Ela. “He has represented Egypt for over 30 years and has been champion of the Middle East for a span of over 20 years alone. Someone like him has made my game grow as I wanted to beat his records. Just being there with so many trophies won and representing Egypt alongside my father has been an honor for me. All the wins we have had together representing Egypt has just been a true honor.”
When away from the golf course and its competitions, Abou El Ela tries to stay active by going to the gym and playing as many sports as possible with friends. “As long as I stay active and enjoy my time, whether I’m good or not at the sport, I just appreciate the company. The fact that I have gotten to play many sports to loosen up or a friendly competition with friends makes it so much better,” he concluded.
Fares Abdelaziz started playing golf eight years ago when one of his friends at the sporting club took him to the driving range. “It took me 10 minutes to hit my first golf ball, and I fell in love with the challenge since then. Until now, I learn new shots every day,” he said of the experience.
A year after taking on the sport, Abdelaziz played his first international tournament and from there he participated in 20 Egyptian men's and juniors’ nationals and 15 international tournaments. “The 2017 African Championship is the most impressive and memorable event for me,” he shared.
Abdelaziz is currently ranked second under-21 and his highest rank was when he played number two on the Egyptian men’s national team.
Golf is known to be one of the most elite sports in the world and
is known to be the “sport of the rich”; however, Abdelaziz has another opinion: “I personally do not think that this is the case in Egypt. According to my experiences with a handful of sports in
Alexandria, I would put golf in the same tier as basketball,
football, tennis, handball, and squash. This is due to the similarity of equipment expenses, personal training fees, and tournament and camp fees,” he explains, adding “All those sports equipment are as expensive as a set of golf clubs and their specific gear such as shoes and training kits are at a very similar price range, if not more costly at times.”
Abdelaziz believes that Egypt needs more players to go out and compete professionally in Europe and the USA in order to be able to catch up with world golf.
Though golf is an exciting and thrilling sport, it doesn't receive the same media coverage in Egypt as abroad. Abdelaziz explained, “I think that no sport in Egypt gets the media coverage it deserves except for football.”
“The Egyptian Golf Federation organizes at least one tournament every month, excluding summer as it is off-season. As for our standings, according to the results of the tournaments we take part in, we are among the top six in Africa and second in the Arab rankings.”
“I am looking forward to turning professional and hopefully winning international tournaments representing my country. I also hope I can be part of the growth of the game in Egypt by being able to help the younger players develop their game,” Abdelaziz shared.
In any sport, young players usually have some older players or an all-time player to look up to, but this is not the case for Abdelaziz, who said, “I never really had a specific player that I looked up to.”
While golf is Abdelaziz’s primary professional sport, he used to play football semi-professionally in a fifth division club in Austria but had to quit due to injury last year. He still plays, however, and said, “Now, as a hobby, I play football and paddle tennis with my friends during weekends.”
Mamdouh El Sheikh
Mamdouh El Sheikh took on the sport at a very early age. He started playing golf at the age of nine, inspired by a couple of close friends who used to play the sport. : I just fell in love with the game right away,” he shared.
Starting early gave El Sheikh the opportunity to participate in as many events both on the local and international scene including four World Amateur Championships as well as many Pan Arab Championships and Arab Games.
For El Sheikh, the most impressive and memorable event was the Arab Games, he recalled, “The Egyptian delegation consisted of a large number of athletes from different sports and we were all staying together at theOlympic village.”
El Sheikhhas an impressive career in the sport. He is currently a member of the national golf team and has been since 1998. “I am ranked in the top four players in Egypt and have reached number one in the national rankings several times during my 22 year competitive career,” he said.
Though the sport of golf has a reputation as one of the most elite sports in the world and is dubbed the “sport of the rich”,El Sheikh disagrees. “Most of the top players worldwide came from modest backgrounds. Thereason it is considered as an elite sport is that most private golfcourses have very expensive membership fees; however, public golfcourses worldwide come at very affordable rates.”
“Since most of the golf clubs in Egypt are private golf courses and not
public ones, the membership fees are too high, leading to a small number of players picking up the sport. If we manage to find a way to
make golf cheaper through government funding for talented youth,I expect golf in Egypt to catch up with worldwide golf by reaching the highest level of international competitions. Golf in Egypt lacks media attention though. This is expected because of the small number of players who practice the game professionally or even at an amateur level.”
El Sheikh believes that funding is the main problem facing the Egyptian GolfFederation. “The federation needs funds to sponsor more talented youngsters and to engage in more international events for players to gain the needed experience. The federation organizesaround 10 events for every age group throughout the year. We are one of the top three teams in the Middle east and among the top five in Africa. Funding would help develop and improve our rankings in both the continent and the region.”
Again, El Sheikh stressed on the issue of funding as he believes it could definitely change the future of Egyptian golf. “If adequate funding is available and the number of juniors picking up the sport increases, the future should look bright. We have a number of world class golf courses that should help that happen.”
As El Sheikh is optimistic of the future of golf in Egypt, he also has goals for himself in the sport as he looks up to Arnold Palmer as his all-time favorite golfer. “As for myself, I hope I can one day help develop the game of golf in Egypt as well as its supporting sectors, such as golf tourism, which should helpshed a light on golf in Egypt on the worldwide golfing map.”
When off the golf course, El Sheikh takes some other sports as a hobby including paddle tennis, hunting, ping-pong.
Maged Abdeltawab’s fate was definitely to play golf, and it would have been weird if he didn’t take on the sport with the privilege he had. Abdeltawab, whostarted playing golf about 15 years ago, was lucky to live within a golf course area. “I used to live on a golfcourse, so I had the opportunity to watch people play and compete, and I wasattracted to it because it was fun to do and hit balls all day long,” he recalled.
The fun of hitting balls all day long has paid off as he went on to participate in more than 80 tournaments on both national and
For him, hismost memorable moment so far would be the Arab Championship and the Cyprus Open on the juniors’ level. “That was when I won a bronze medal at the Juniors ArabChampionship as I was young compared to the rest of the field playing,” he shared about the memory. He continued to share memorable moments including, “Winning the Cyprus junior open where I made a good comeback towin.”
Currently, he is not an international ranked player, though he’s one of the most remarkable golf players in Egypt. “Here in Egypt, we have somany good players,” he explained.
Just like his teammate El Sheikh, he disagrees with the idea that golf is a “sport of the rich”. Indeed, he believes that“golf is a sport for all so no matter what, youcan still pick up the game and show that you can play”.
“In my opinion golf isfor everyone regardless of any classifications,” he continued.
But he does agree that golf is not as popular in Egypt as other sports. “Here in Egypt, golf isn't a very popular sport, but I think if we
provided the same benefits of football or handball, it'd be one of the
top sports here in Egypt because all the younger generations will get
attracted to it easily.”
“Golf needs media coverage to become an elite sport along withpromoting the game throughout media outlets and making it easy and accessible to theyounger generations to participate and show their talents.”
Abdeltawab thinks that the low number of golfers in Egypt is a reason for Egypt falling behind other leading countries in the world. “In my opinion, it's the lack of players at the moment. If more players
take on the game, golf in Egypt will develop for sure. The players here in
Egypt need more tournaments since sports are all about competitions.”
He alsothinks that Egypt is one of the top countries in Africa. “SouthAfrica is the leading country followed by Morocco and Egypt. The golf courseshere are amazing and can't be found in any of the other places,” he shared.
However, and despite the obstacles facing the sport of golf in Egypt, Abdeltawab has a positive look on the future as he foresees it. “The future of golf for Egypt is very bright, with more juniors coming
in willing to play and defend the name of Egyptian golf nationally and
internationally. As for my future, I still have to get done with my
military service, and I do still dream about my professional career in
The ambitious golfer Abdeltawab looks up to Jason Day, whom he considers his all-time favorite golfer because “he had to
overcome a lot of barriers to become the number one in golf”.
Off the golf course, Abdeltawab loves to work out, stay fit, keep in shape, and play football.
Dean Naime was always quite interested in sports, whether it be football, tennis, or golf.
“I have always been a very dedicated athlete. However, what attracted me to golf was that it was the purest form of competition. It is simply your best effort against the field, and there is nowhere to hide, and no one to blame,” he expressed.
Naime has been part of hundreds of tournaments throughout his career, representing Egypt across many stages. He shared his pride for playing for Egypt “whether it be the Junior Pan Arab, the Men’s Pan Arab, or the opportunity to represent the country across the deepest and most competitive field in amateur golf”.
He also feels blessed to have witnessed some memorable moments as he recalled, “I have thankfully had a few memorable moments. The most memorable moment had to be winning the Men’s Pan Arab this last winter, shooting -14 to win four and take back the individual title from Morocco in Morocco for the first time in over 15 years. This was a great accomplishment and one I will cherish for a long time.”
Naime’s current ranking in the WAGR isn’t very high and he explained the reason is “due to the COVID pandemic”. He said, “It has prevented me from playing any tournaments since my win in Morocco.”
For Naime, golf has a reputation of being inaccessible. But he expressed, “Hopefully, the federation will continue to improve its outreach programs because this is the only way we can overcome the financial barrier that continues to limit the juniors that play and pursue this sport seriously.”
“I think that Egypt has the most difficult area, great golf courses. However to take the next step, the golf industry of Egypt must learn to own its image. They must learn to cultivate sponsorships from the types of people that play the sport. When this happens and advertisement money, from a couple of the giants of advertisement, start to notice the types of people you gain access to when you advertise at golf tournaments, then things will really start to change in Egypt.”
Naime admits the sport of golf doesn’t receive the same media coverage or attention as other sports. “I simply think it has to do with prize money. If pros were playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars there would be media coverage.”
Regarding the problems and obstacles facing the Egyptian Golf Federation, Naime believes it is mainly marketing and fundraising. “I think the best thing for the federation is learning how to properly market its players and fundraise properly. We have the talent in Egypt, but a consistent inability to properly fundraise with fundraiser golf tournaments, advertisements, and other modern methods of fundraising has limited the federation’s ability to properly fund its junior programs and equip its national teams with simple things like balls and gloves.”
Naime also thinks that Egyptian golfers have proven themselves time and time again in the Middle East. “However, we must play better in the all-African tournaments. Simply speaking, we don’t often send our most competitive teams, and this prevents us from playing our best. I think in the future we should send one of our strongest teams and take a podium finish as a team and maybe steal an individual win and show South Africa and Zimbabwe that we have come to play.”
When asked what Egypt can do to catch up in the world of golf, Naime shared, “I also believe there are several European tour events being played all over Africa; however, there hasn’t been any in Egypt. This is not due to a lack of facilities, so I think if the federation could organize an event of this magnitude, it could greatly affect the trajectory of golf as a sport in Egypt.”
Naime revealed that he was keen on achieving his goals. “As a college golfer, my goals this season are to get through regionals and compete for an NCAA championship. However, the future is a bit of mystery. If I continue to improve my skills and scores, I believe that a professional career is a legitimate option to pursue. But to achieve this, I must continue to apply myself day in and day out because there are a lot of very good players.”
Although Jordan Spieth is going through a difficult time at the moment, he is Naime’s favorite player, whom he looks up to. “He has a fantastic mental game. He doesn’t have the prettiest golf swing, but he has an undying competitive spirit. He is also fantastic around the greens and that is something I continue to be in awe of and strive to achieve for myself,” Naime said of his favorite golfer.
And just like most Egyptian and world athletes, when not playing their primary professional sport, they take on another sport as a hobby. Accordingly, when off the golf course, Naime often plays football. “It’s my passion away from my passion. I love watching my favorite team Manchester United. I also love getting out with my friends and just having a good time.”