In an exclusive interview General Manager Campbell Elliot talks about Erbil Hills Golf Club and their plans for the second half of 2023. Based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Campbell oversees all aspects of the club’s ongoing development and works alongside the board and IMG.
IMG managed Erbil Hills Golf Club will feature a world class 18 hole championship course designed by internationally recognised golf course architects, Dye Designs.
1 - How do you reflect on your first few months at Erbil Hills Golf Club?
Erbil has been a great experience so far. It is a fantastic city with friendly people, a rich history, and a very vibrant, diverse, and multicultural atmosphere. It has therefore been easy to adapt to a new city and its culture. At the Club, my focus has been on laying the foundation for a successful launch and ensuring all aspects of the operation are prepared to provide an exceptional golfing experience.
One of the key aspects of my role has been building a cohesive operations team that shares the club’s vision and values. I have also been working closely with architects, designers, and contractors, which has been crucial to ensuring that the club's infrastructure, amenities, and services are aligned with the property owner’s intended vision and high standards. I have also been engaging with potential members and the local community during the pre-opening phase.
2 - Erbil Hills is destined to become one of the region's most exciting new golf destinations. How is the golf course construction process going?
We are progressing nicely; nine holes are completed and completely grown in, with all bunkers constructed with Capillary Flow. The second nine holes are constructed and shaped, with grassing commencing in July 2023, with a view to having nine holes open for play in Q4 2023, and 18 holes in Q4 2024
3 - How do you think your previous international experience can help you with managing and developing Erbil Hills Golf Club?
I believe that cultural understanding helps a great deal. I am most fortunate to have been exposed to many diverse cultures, customs, and perspectives during my career, which in turn helps me respect and navigate cultural nuances, foster inclusivity, and effectively communicate with staff, members, and guests from various backgrounds.
I also understand that international experience builds adaptability and resilience, which brings with it the ability to overcome challenges with creativity, flexibility, and a solution-oriented approach.
4 - How do you plan to take advantage of IMG’s international network to develop future Iraqi golf professionals?
The vision is for Erbil Hills to be a successful legacy project built on a long-term vision of collaboration and a commitment to the sustainable development of golf across all demographics of society, particularly women and children. It is therefore incumbent on the Club and IMG to ensure that we do all that we can to grow the game of golf. This will be achieved through the infrastructure development of training facilities, which will provide a conducive environment for learning and improvement for all levels of players. Erbil Hills will feature two state-of-the art IMG Performance Studios, as well as a 300-meter driving range, a 100-meter grass tee, chipping, and putting greens.
Through the IMG network, we will be hiring PGA-qualified golf coaches to provide ongoing expertise and guidance to help young golfers progress, as well as ensuring that we work with schools and youth organizations to incorporate golf into their physical education curriculums.