Hans Olbertz, General Manager of Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, loves outdoor sports and is a passionate golfer. Olbertz is amazed by the massive development that has taken place in Abu Dhabi, and delighted at the golfing options he now has in the city. The veteran German hotelier spoke to Corporate Golf World on his own game, and the influence Emirates Palace has had on the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
|How regularly do you play golf and your current handicap?
I am a member of Abu Dhabi Golf Club and I play about 4-6 times every month. My handicap is now 9.
What does golf mean to you?
For me, it is a great mean of relaxation and enjoyment. It also is a competition Ė not only against my friends and other players, but also against myself. Golf signifies perfection to me Ė something that we all try to achieve.
Your favourite course in Abu Dhabi?
I love playing the National course of Abu Dhabi Golf Club because it is my home club. It has been a proven layout which has been challenging some of the best names in the game as the annual host of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. It is a challenging layout and a very matured and well-maintained course.
I also love the new courses at Saadiyat and Yas Links.
Your favourite course in the world?
I love The Links in Mauritius and Santiburi Samui Country Club in Koh Samui, Thailand. Apart from the fact that they are extremely picturesque courses, I like the service in both these clubs.
Coming from hospitality industry, are you very particular about the services in a golf club?
Absolutely. I hate it when I have to wait to get on to the tee after I have registered myself. Another thing I dislike is the size of the lockers in some clubs. You canít event put a single jacket inside without crumpling it. And I greatly admire when the staff smiles at players and are genuine in their interaction.
Which professional golfer you have enjoyed playing with?
I played nine holes with Gary Player during the opening of Saadiyat Beach, and he was superb. Despite his achievements, he is such a down-to-earth man. A true gentleman. My all-time favourite golfer is Bernhard Langer. He is a perfectionist and a fighter. And he has done a lot for German golf.
Finally, the European Tour professionals say one of the big reasons for the massive popularity of Abu Dhabi Golf Championship is because of the free stay and hospitality of Emirates Palace. Your thoughts?
We have a great relationship with the tournament and we are proud to play a part in its continued success. Nothing can beat the goodwill and the word of mouth that is spread the world over by the participating players. We have had so many guests checking in because they have heard good things about us from one of the players. Itís a win-win situation for us.