Once upon a time, two teenage girls dreamed that one day they’d grow up to be Oprah Winfrey & Tiger Woods, or in other words a television journalist and a professional golf player, and laughed at how amazing it would be for one to interview the other.
Today part of that dream came true; I got to interview Naela El Attar, my childhood best friend, the Tiger Woods of our dream and last but not least, the professional golf player.
This is the story of Naela El Attar.
El Attar grew up in Alexandria where she started playing golf at the age of five. Her late father, Mohamed El Attar, was her biggest fan; he introduced her to golf, which later became both her hobby and obsession.
“It’s like being in a park; sometimes on a mountain, in the desert or by the ocean. I get to change scenery while playing the most interesting game in the world,” said El Attar as she went on to describe golf with passion, and added that playing golf was her preferred pastime.
She wanted to be part of it forever. True enough, if you can’t find her around, just head to the golf course and you’ll surely find her there. That’s a well-known fact to all her friends.
El Attar’s hard work and dedication started paying off early on in her career when she started competing as an amateur on the Egyptian team. She won the African Championship in 2006 and the Arab Championship in 2007 – believe it or not, she was barely 21 years old at the time.
2008 was a big year for El Attar, she finished her degree in Hotel Management and moved to the US to study Golf Course Management and Golf Teaching at the Golf Academy of America in Carlsbad, California where she graduated with honors. This was also the year she qualified to play professionally. She was the first Egyptian to play on the Futures Tour and the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
El Attar thrives on competing, and went on to participate in numerous international championships such as the Mediterranean Games, the European Tour and twice in the World Championship.
Yet her dreams were even bigger than that. In 2011 she decided to focus on golf instruction, “I wanted to be one of the most trained and knowledgeable golf professionals in the world, so I got into the PGA program to become a member,” El Attar added.
The PGA (Professional Golfers Associations) is the largest working sports organization in the world. It has over 28 thousand dedicated men and women promoting golf everywhere in the world.
To become a member, El Attar spent over five years being examined over three levels, in addition to passing tests, attending seminars and of course continuing to teach and play golf in parallel. She put a lot of work into the program and she finally made it!
Talking golf with El Attar always brings back beautiful memories of her late father. He was her biggest cheerleader as she says, always traveled with her and walked around the golf course for hours just to watch and support her.
“Can you imagine how lucky I was to have this bond with my father over a game we both feel so passionate about…,” she told me as we chatted. With her trademark smile never leaving her face she added, “But I know my dad is always watching over me on the golf course.”
And I’m sure he couldn’t be more proud of your accomplishments, Naela.
El Attar currently works as a golf professional at Allegria in Cairo. She teaches golf to men, women and juniors of all ages. “Anyone can play golf, from age 4 all the way up to 94” she said, “it’s the kind of game that grows with you and you can continue to enjoy it for years.”
She is very happy with how golf is growing in Egypt, with over 20 golf courses in the country now, El Attar hopes to continue to propagate this sport and make it more popular in Egypt and the Middle East. When I asked her to describe her relationship with golf, El Attar shared with me one of her favorite quotes by Arnold Palmer, who is nicknamed as the ‘King of Golf'; “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.”
On her future plans, El Attar said she will head back to California in January 2017 to complete the final step and officially become the first female Arab PGA member.
Naela, Thank you for making us all proud and raising the Egyptian flag everywhere you go.