Cooperative weather was only a small factor contributing to a memorable 26th Annual ABGR-AMEX Golf Tournament, a tradition that, behind-the-scenes, is quite laborious, but indiscernible because it magnificently manifests in an 18-hole game of golf and an evening celebrating sponsors and winners alike. This year, the event was held March 28th and 29th, with the evening event on Friday at the U.S. Embassy Formal Gardens.
Despite the apparent mass exodus of expats this past year, the Golf Tournament attracted over 100 golfers from 20 different nationalities. Although many in the expat community feel the past few years have felt mercurial at best, staple events like this illustrate the importance of community and organizations that not only keep us informed but keep us together.
We were elated to have Kingdom Brokerage join us again as our Hole-in-One Sponsor, offering not one, but two opportunities to win a Mercedes-Benz. Unfortunately, lady luck was not in our favor and it remains the third year in a row where this prize is unclaimed.
Golfers and spectators alike were treated to a delicious breakfast and lunch catered by the Hyatt. The tantalizing scent of grilled burgers and hot dogs beckoned golfers as they made their way through the course.
The Awards Celebration was framed by a warm breeze and the dulcet tones provided by DJ Deb Brown. Introductions were made by the Golf Committee Chair and Social Events Chair for the ABGR, Tom Merkel. Vice Chair of the ABGR and Sponsorship Chair for the Golf Committee, Tarik Solomon began the evening framing the current political, economic and social landscape in the Kingdom. “There has never been such a time, in recent history, where Saudi Arabia has been so accepting of new ideas and new ways of thinking. Young Saudis everywhere are responding to this shift by stepping up to shape, innovate and lead in their communities, their companies, and their country.” He went on to enlighten the audience with research about the game of golf and its intersection with business, before introducing the Charges d’Affaires, Christopher Henzel, who highlighted the depth of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, aided by the platform provided by the American Business Group.
After dinner, appreciation remarks were made for the Sponsors of the tournament, who were presented with engraved Tiffany gifts.
The Golf Committee, helmed by Tom Merkel, began their efforts in January. Tarik Solomon’s sponsorship efforts continue to excel in very financially lean times. Todd Elledge (re)joined the committee as the USERA liaison, organizing the beautiful Awards Ceremony. Most remarkably, the event came together despite two cherished ABGR team members returning to the U.S. – Claire Bridge and Barbara Merkel – their spirits were felt throughout the night. However, the committee eagerly welcomed three brilliant additions including Shohreh Shadmand, Nicola Losada-Phillips, and Erica Twyman as well as veteran Ronda Saead, who keeps everyone in line. We were also very grateful to work with Dirab Golf & Country Club and their representatives, Bouchaib El-Jadiani and Eric Liquigan.
Of course, none of this would be possible without our title sponsor, American Express, and their incredible team including Georges Baaklini, Mohammed Loubani and Bader Al-Muhana.
The ABGR is also grateful to have volunteers for events like these – Tammie Perdue and Jamila El-Dajani, as well as Mike Winrow and John Saead. Thank you for your support!
On behalf of the ABGR Community and the Board, we thank the committee for their tireless efforts, above and beyond hours, and their jovial attitude to bring together an annual tradition that is a premier event for the expat community. If you would like to join the team, we are looking for volunteers to join the effort, provide valuable insight and make next year’s event even more successful! Please email us at Tarik.firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Place: Mark Campbell, Michael Schantz, Atli Eyjolfsson, Robert Baumberger
Second Place: Graham Gunn, Bernard Jacques, Saud Jedea, Michael Barnhardt
Third Place: Saad Alotaibi, Omar Shawaf, Juan Rosado-Velez, Todd Elledge
CLOSEST TO THE PIN:
Hole #4: Michael Ruddy
Hole #7: Ross Morrison
Hole #11: Graham Gunn
Hole #16: Paul Damren