ABGR-BGS Tourney Renamed to Honor Riyadh Community Icon


The 2019 ABGR-BGS Ryder Cup was officially renamed the Tom Merkel Ryder Cup this year and in perpetuity, honoring longtime supporter to the ABGR and BGS community, Tom Merkel.  As many of you are aware, Tom Merkel passed away August 9 due to a pulmonary embolism; to this day, the shock is still felt throughout the community.

This year’s Tom Merkel Ryder Cup celebrated the life Tom lived in Riyadh; the weather was perfect, we had incredible participation, and much to the delight of everyone, speeches were short!

The Golf Tournament was held November 22 with idyllic weather conditions. The tournament was held at Riyadh Greens; the course was full and we even had to turn some golfers away! Typically, the Ryder Cup dinner reception is held at the Community Hall, but this year, the British Embassy graciously hosted at the British Residence Garden, which is always a treat, with the Sheraton catering.

The organizing Committee would like to express our appreciation to the participation and contributions that made this event possible. First and foremost, the British Deputy Chief of Mission, Peter Davies and the American Deputy Chief of Mission, Martina Strong for attending the event. In addition, we are especially grateful to Al Nakhla Resort & Compound for providing the Ryder Cup shirts and American Express Saudi Arabia for providing the golf balls. Additional raffle prizes were generously provided by Riyadh Greens, Arizona Golf Resort, California Compound, the Marriott Hotel, Al Nakhla Resort & Compound, BGS and the ABGR.

After introductory speeches, winners were announced at the tournament. Congratulations to each of the winners!

  • Longest Drive Men (hole 13) – Graham Harper
  • Longest Drive Ladies (hole 3) – Kelly McKay
  • Nearest the Pin Men (hole 17) – Lee Talbot
  • Nearest the Pin Ladies (hole 6) – Jane Blackledge
  • Nearest the Pin (hole 14) – Mark Warwick
  • Nearest the Pin (hole 8) – Graham Gunn
  • Longest Putt (hole 7) – Roy Evans

Finally, the 2019 Tom Merkel Ryder Cup Champions were announced and by a score of 47.5 to 28.5, the Cup was presented to Team ABGR, for a third year in a row! We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the tournament and recognize a valiant effort by Team GB!

The seamless production of the event was, of course, the result of many unseen hours by the Committee, so heartfelt thanks to all the organizing members. I would be remiss not to mention Tom’s wife, Barbara Merkel, who for many years organized this event, along with the BGS, on her own. The community is eternally grateful to both Tom and Barb for their years of commitment and service to the expat community. We look forward to next year’s event!

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About the Author
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Amanda-Grace Tafunai

Amanda has resided in Riyadh since 2011; she currently works for the Middle East Broadcasting Center as Business Planner, as well as Executive Manager for Taqadom Specialized Solutions, a technology company.