Ewen Murray first set foot in the United Arab Emirates in 1982, at what was then a much smaller Dubai International Airport. As a professional golfer at the time, he traveled to play in a series of Golf Pro-Ams to promote the game through his sponsor, British Caledonia, one of three airlines serving Dubai only. at the time. You can imagine then, 40 years ago, how different the landscape of Dubai would have been.
“My first time here was in 1982, there was a building and it’s still there now, the World Trade Center, but of course it’s overwhelmed by all the other buildings,” Murray said.
‘ I remember they were saying at the time that there would be big changes in the next 20 years and there would be a marina built where they were going to build a golf course and none of that stuff. was obviously there, just the hard rock cafe. I left thinking it wouldn’t happen. And you are watching it now! I wouldn’t say it’s a mini Manhattan, I would say a big Manhattan, massive changes.
A first real eye-opener into what the golf landscape was like at the time was a visit to a sand-based Dubai Country Club. Here he had to play with a piece of synthetic turf from one foot to one foot to kick the ball. This was followed by a second sand golf course in central Abu Dhabi, and even a trip to Das Island….
“We played at a place called Das Island which I believe is 100 kilometers off the coast here. Here we played around gas tanks, fuel tanks and airstrips, it was wonderful. It was a wonderful adventure but it was another world and it is, it’s almost a lifetime.
Upon returning to the UK, Murray continued his stellar playing career while playing around the world on the European Tour. Unfortunately, he then lost his playing privileges in 1989 and had to make the difficult decision to hang up his clubs.
It was the following year, in 1990, that Ewen received a phone call from the Executive Director of the Emirates Golf Club, Andrew Miller, who was looking for a last minute replacement for a golf commentator for the Emirates Airlines Desert. Classic from 1990. Accepting the offer of a plane ticket and £500 for the week, Ewen was on the next flight to Dubai to try his hand at golf commentary for the first time.
“I came, and Channel 33 was the people who covered golf live, they had never covered golf before. Richard Corman, who was a radio host in Dubai, became the presenter. I became the commentator, channel 33 was playing golf for the first time, so it was not a recipe for great success! They used to race camels, they used to do the Dakar rally, and after an hour manager Hamid Mubarak asked if it was okay? And I said ‘we kind of need to see the ball’. He had his cameramen on the other side of the audience, out of manners, out of respect, but of course they had to be on the other side.
“On Saturday afternoon the ball never left the center of the screen, it was as if they had been doing it all their lives.” Hamid Mubarak has become a great friend, a very close friend. We finished the tournament and I was alone as a commentator, and I liked that. When I got home Sky was just getting started and they had bought the Desert Classic highlights with the commentary on it, and they asked me if I wanted to go to Spain to do their commentary for the Spanish event, that that I did. And that was it, that was the start of my comments.
It was from this trip to Dubai that Ewen never looked back. 30 years in the Sky Sports hot seat has earned the Scot world respect for his unique story.
“I would say the most important thing for golf commentary is that achieving silence is probably your most effective weapon. It’s easy to know when to speak but not so easy to know when not to speak.
“I was very lucky because Sky Sports started in 1992 at the start of the Dubai Desert Classic era, just before Abu Dhabi got involved. It was a company that came and stayed. here for a while so they’ve been patient and built well I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time When you look back on your life you may have made some good things, certainly did bad things, but being in the right place at the right time is either fate or luck or maybe a bit of both.
The closing of the DP World Tour Championship this year has once again shown us that this event is still the number one tournament players want to win, at the number one destination.
“You look around and the course of the Earth hasn’t even been built these days. Maybe it was in a blue drawing somewhere but it wasn’t built. But you watch it now and you watch the show that they have here, the way it’s put together, the way everything is neat, they consider everything carefully so it’s a show that goes around the world of which they are proud.
“It’s the DP World Tour and based here in Dubai, the DP World Tour is coming home, the best golfers in the world, the number one golfer at the top of the list. That’s how he grew up and it’s a wonderful sight. People look at Dubai now and if you take a wide view of the marina everyone knows it is Dubai, recognizable all over the world and year by year it is getting bigger and better.