Sandy beaches, extravagant infrastructure, unique experiences and the promise of almost guaranteed sunshine; there are many good reasons why Abu Dhabi is an attractive holiday destination.
Throw in a handful of world class golf courses, including the Abu Dhabi Golf Club – home of the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – and it isn’t hard to calculate why golfers are flock to the Gulf for a taste of the action.
Dubbed “an oasis of tranquillity carved out of the desert”, Abu Dhabi Golf Club offers one of the most luxurious golf resort experiences in the entire Middle East.
We take a closer look at five reasons why it’s a venue to tick off your bucket list.
The 27 holes of championship golf on offer at Abu Dhabi Golf Club are among the best you can play in the entire Gulf region. The course weaves its way through seven saltwater lakes and 90 bunkers, passing an abundance of native palm trees and decorative plants and shrubs as you navigate your way along impeccable fairways and undulating greens. There are a brilliant variety of holes on offer here, with four par 5s and four par 3s – headlined by the stunning par-3 12th – and each just as glorious as the last. But don’t just take it from us, how about the word of a five-time major champion? “It’s a world class course and in immaculate shape and you can easily identify where you’re playing well and where you’re not,” Phil Mickelson says.
The Par 3 12th is the most-photographed and aesthetically stunning hole on the National Course at Abu Dhabi GC. With a lake protecting the front of the green and a rock-wall serving as a menacing backdrop, a precise iron is required to stand any chance of a birdie.
Imagine rocking up to your local course at 8pm in November to squeeze in some holes after work? Apart from freezing your you-know-whats off, you’ll do well to keep track of that little white thing in the dark. This is certainly not the case in Abu Dhabi, where floodlit golf has taken off in a big way over the past few years. Because of its desert climate, Abu Dhabi is perfectly suited to night golf. The people behind Abu Dhabi GC have capitalised on this by installing state-of-the-art lighting, similar to what you’d find in many of the great stadiums around the world, into the natural surrounds of their nine-hole Garden Course to provide the unique opportunity of playing golf after dark. This isn’t just another par-3 course either; part of the course’s appeal is that it’s a par 36 with two par 5s and two par 3s, plus a variety of long and short par 4s, to form a proper test of golf. It’s a more relaxed way to play the game too, with a more social feel, lower green fees and the opportunity to enjoy a few evening beverages during the round. It’s easy to see why the concept has taken off.
Night golf has taken off in a big way in Abu Dhabi. The neighbouring Yas Links also boasts a floodlit par-3 course, but it’s the varied layout at Abu Dhabi which makes it a true test of golf.
Many of you will recognise the Abu Dhabi course and its famous falcon-shaped clubhouse from the images beamed onto UK TV screens during the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championships. Since the inaugural tournament in 2006, the event has quickly become established as a favourite among both players and spectators. Held in mid-January each year (when temperatures dip to a balmy 20-25 degrees), the tournament regularly attracts a “who’s who” of the European Tour plus a few big names from the opposite side of the Atlantic. Highlights have included Martin Kaymer’s back-to-back victories in 2010-11, the David vs Goliath-esque tale of Robert Rock holding off Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in 2013, Pablo Larrazabal’s thrilling one-shot win over Rory and Phil Mickelson and most recently our Chief Holiday Officer Lee Westwood claiming the victory.
Stretching to 7600 yards from the championship markers, the National Course provides a stern test for the world’s best players. The seven water hazards make it an exciting prospect for spectators too!
It’s the abundance of unique experiences on offer make Abu Dhabi a must-visit holiday destination. From sites like the jaw-dropping Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (which is home to the world’s largest carpet and chandelier and can fit up to 40,000 worshippers) to Ferrari World, where you can ride Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest rollercoaster – and hit speeds of 150mph. There is also Waterworld, the world’s biggest water park, where visitors can cool off in style riding countless slides, raft rides, ravines and wave pools. Those with an affinity for F1 racing will love the Yas Island Marina Circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, or for an authentic taste of the Middle East, a desert safari is an absolute must!
Abu Dhabi may be located some 3500 miles away from England, but getting there is relatively painless. You can fly direct from London with British Airways or from Manchester with Etihad, and in just over seven hours later, you’ll be touching down to blue skies and tan-inducing temperatures. Be sure to pack your sunscreen! Once there, the golf course is just a 10 minute cab ride from the airport, so you’ll be belting your driver down a floodlit fairway in no time!
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