Designed by the 2012 Open Champion, Ernie Els, the course was the first to be completed within the multi-billion dollar development that is Dubai’s Sports City, having opened for play in March 2008. Other additions to the complex since the completion of The Els Club include the world’s first purpose-built Manchester United Soccer School facility, the ICC’s own Global Cricket Academy, the first ever World Hockey Academy and a David Lloyd Tennis Academy. There’s certainly been no holds barred in their attempts to build one of the best multi-sport complexes in the world at Dubai Sports City.
The course follows two returning loops of nine set within the exclusive ‘golf course villa community’ of Victory Heights. It boasts 18-holes of championship golf, stretching to 7,538 yards from the back tees, designed to be accessible for golfers of all standard, as there are a selection of four separate tee boxes at each hole.
I am sure the golfing purists will moan when they fist lay their eyes upon the highly contrasting, chalk white sand which is used in the fairway and greenside sand-traps. But if you are travelling to Dubai to play golf you shouldn’t expect anything different.
Refreshingly however water comes into play on just a couple of holes, but it isn’t just for show. You will first find the drink on the 7th – a tricky enough hole without the water hugging the left hand side of the hole. The recommended route is to aim right and take the safer options into a well protected and greatly undulating green.
The course measures a staggering 7,538 yards from the back tees, however there is a selection of tee boxes available to make the course accessible for every level of golfer.
The second hole you’ll meet with a water hazard is the 15th – there’s no escaping it on this hole. If you manage to clear the water with your drive you’ll still be left with at least a 160 yard approach to the green, which of course edges out into the water. And if you don’t hit an accurate second there’s a high chance your ball will be taking a bath thanks to the severe left to right slope on the fairway.
The signature hole at The Els Club has got to be the 18th. For the weary golfer it may seem a little cruel to finish with a 600 yard par-5; however the green is reachable in two if you choose to play on the further forward tees. But the recommended route is to play a long iron to leave a short approach onto the putting surface rather than risk the wrath of the trio of pothole bunkers which pepper the flagstick.
Other nice touches from The Els Club experience are free TaylorMade balls when you rent clubs and fly by representations of the each hole in your golf buggy – this really is a great help for when you are mentally preparing for your next tee shot or approach.
Here’s what The Big Easy had to say about his creation: “The Els Club combines the best of all the great clubs that I have played worldwide. The golf challenge is second to none. I am really proud of what we have achieved here. Whether you are an 18 handicap or a scratch golfer, it will be a great test of golf. This course is something very special. I think you can make a course challenging for the best players in the world but at the same time enjoyable for the rest of the world’s golfers. We’ve done that here.”
The course takes advantage of stunning desert scenery while using contours to create an almost links style course.
Dubai Sports City is also home to the first Butch Harmon School of Golf outside the US. It is operated by the son of the world-famous golf coach Butch Harmon, Claude Harmon III, who has coached the 2008 Masters Champion (Trevor Immelman), 2011 Open Champion (Darren Clarke) and the 2013 Masters Champion (Adam Scott). The complex boasts an up to date performance institute which houses physical screening and three dimensional video analyses for the students. So if you weren’t able to triumph over The Big Easy’s course because of a hook or slice, book yourself into the Butch Harmon School of Golf to iron out those flaws in your swing.
Golf holidays to The Els Club start from just £779. This includes 4 nights B&B at the superb Yas Island Rotana, 3 rounds of golf and flights!
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