History will be made this week at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat when the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour both stage events at the stunning venue near the Moroccan coast.
The men will be teeing it up on the Red Course in the Trophée Hassan II while over on the Blue Course the women will be competing in the Lalla Meryem Cup as the two Tours come together at one venue for the first time.
This will not be the last time that the men and the women share the same venue this season, as they will all be brought together in Rio de Janeiro in August when golf returns to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years.
While the men’s and women’s events will be played in different weeks in Brazil, the two tournaments are running concurrently in Morocco, and European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley is excited by the prospect of further cooperation in the future.
“It’s terrific to be here alongside the LET to stage the men’s and women’s tournaments just three months prior to the Olympics,” he said. “There are many Olympic hopefuls competing in both tournaments, so it’s a great opportunity to showcase the strength of the men’s and the women’s games.
“I hope it’s the start of an increased collaboration to come between the two Tours. We can grow and get stronger together.”
“It’s an innovative approach and we’re keen to see how it works this week before deciding on the next steps.
“We have a number of ambitious ideas which we will be announcing in the coming months, but this week we’re focused on the start of a partnership which we hope can grow over time.”
Ladies European Tour Chief Executive Ivan Khodabakhsh shared Pelley’s excitement of the coming together of the two Tours and he was hopeful that the innovative approach could bring more people to the game of golf.
“We need to look beyond the borders of golf and in other sports we can see the best practices,” he said. “We can see in tennis and in other sports, actually having both genders side by side in a great event competing gives so much more colour, provides so much more for the fans and hopefully we can gain new fans coming to the sport.
“It’s not just about satisfying our current fans, we need more fans, we need to grow the game and this is another means. It’s not the ultimate means but it’s another means to do so.”
Both Pelley and Khodabakhsh are open to staging more concurrent events in the future and one that is already confirmed is the inaugural European Championships at Gleneagles in 2018.
Medals will be available in the men’s, women’s and mixed team events over the PGA Centenary Course and Pelley thinks the male and female players can learn a lot from each other by sharing both a course and a clubhouse.
“Professional sportsmen love sharing stories and experiences, which I’m sure is a big appeal for the guys who will be playing in the Olympics,” Pelley said.
“The respect that professional athletes have for one another, both from within their sport and from other sports, is unbelievable. So this week will be an education, and it’s also a curiosity for them.
“They’ll be asking about the challenges they face on the LET, about their practice routine. So it will be a great opportunity for them to share information and educate themselves.”
Both CEOs praised the vision of the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association and their delivery of two first class tournaments at the same venue.
Khodabakhsh said: “We are extremely grateful to the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid. The amount of effort that the organisation is putting behind this tournament makes it extremely special.”
Pelley commented: “I hope it’s the start of an increased collaboration to come between the two Tours. What has impressed me most is the organisation of these events, because I know how hard it is to organise one golf tournament, let alone two at the same time.
“The chance to play on two great golf courses is very rare, so we have a unique opportunity this week. Everyone who has worked on the event has done a remarkable job, so we thank His Royal Highness and the Trophée Hassan Golf Association for all their efforts, and we look forward to growing this tournament in the years to come.”