If you’re looking to combine golf with guaranteed sunshine, ultimate luxury and foreign culture then a golf holiday to the United Arab Emirates is for you. The oil rich nations in the Gulf region have spared no expense in creating the world’s most lavish hotels and an endless array of stunning desert golf courses that almost seem to perfect to be real. The quality of the golf on offer in such Emirates as Dubai and Qatar have been recognised by the European Tour and now these countries that were once barren desert wastelands play host to some of the biggest professional golf tournaments on the Tour. These world class golf courses are ready and waiting for you to play on your next golf holiday and we have assembled a list of ten of the very best.
1 – The Emirates Golf Club – The Majilis – Dubai
The Emirates Golf Club was founded in 1988 and the Majilis was the first all grass course in the Gulf Region. The ‘The Desert Miracle’ has been at the forefront of golf in the Middle East since then and is the host course for the Dubai Desert Classic; one of the biggest events on the European Tour.
The Majilis may be the Gulf’s first all grass course but it remains one of the best tests of golf in the region. The perfectly manicured fairways wind through great swathes of sandy wasteland and dotted around the course are significant water hazards that can be quite intimidating. A case in point is the large lake that has to be carried to reach the 18th green. Will you be brave enough to go for this par 5 green in two…well…when in Rome!
2 – The Montgomerie Dubai Hotel & Golf Resort – Dubai
The Montgomerie is the most spectacular of Dubai’s recent golfing projects, and is a truly stunning golf course. The generous fairways feature mind boggling undulations which give the course a distinct links feel. Although the course is essentially a “target golf” style course, the clever design gives you the chance to be creative and execute imaginative shots.
From the back tees the Montgomerie stretches to a challenging 7,308 yards and if you stray from the fairways lush Bermuda rough lies in wait to gobble up your golf ball. If you successfully manoeuvre your ball into the fairways you will still need to avoid a staggering 49 acres of man-made lakes that are dotted around the course.
3 – Yas Island Links – Abu Dhabi
Fresh from completing masterpieces like Kingsbarns near St Andrews and Dundonald in Troon, Kyle Phillips, one of the world’s leading course architects, has created this genuine, traditional links course out of a flat desert wasteland. It’s the first of its type in the Middle East region and if weren’t for the blazing sunshine you would think you were on a traditional links back at the home of golf.
Where there were rolling dunes and wasteland, there’s now a collection of rolling verdant fairways, deep bunkers, wispy rough and inviting and sloping greens that feature the traditional runoff areas found on the classic old links of Scotland. From the back tees the course stretches to 7,450 yards so it will provide more than a fair test for even the longest hitters. Those of you who don’t smash it 300 yards from the tee should not be put off as multiple tee positions make the course accessible for any golfer.
In addition to the championship 18-hole course, there’s a nine-hole academy course, clubhouse, golf academy and floodlit practice facilities, set against dramatic views of the Arabian Gulf.
4 – Dubai Creek Golf Club – Dubai
The stretch of water that runs south from central Dubai has lent its name to a terrific golf course, that has now been embellished by Thomas Bjorn’s redesign project. The quality of the course has been underlined by the European Tour’s decision to award the Dubai Desert Classic to Dubai Creek in 1999 and 2000.
From the competition tees, the course measures 6,857 yards, which isn’t long by modern standards; making the course playable for golfers of all abilities. Water hazards are a common feature while the salt water creek that gives the course its name runs along the side the stunning 9th hole.
As with many golf clubs in Dubai, the clubhouse is simply stunning and has been designed to represent a traditional Arab dhow sail.
For some night time fun, try the par-3 course at Dubai Creek, which is fully floodlit after the sun sets.
5 – Saadiyat Beach & Golf Club – Abu Dhabi
The course at the Saadiyat Beach & Golf Club is widely considered as one of the most testing layouts in modern history and measures an almost unbelievable 7,806 yards from the tips. If you enjoy the challenge of a difficult golf course then this one is for you but don’t be put off by the length as the course can be reduced to a much more manageable 5,290 yards.
As the Emirate’s first ocean course, it combines beach-front holes with amazing views of the Gulf’s sparkling, clear blue waters adjacent to gleaming white sands. From the fairways you may even catch a glimpse of Humpback Dolphins or Turtles which can make a round at Saadiyat all the more special.
6 – Doha Golf Club – Qatar
As the venue for the Qatar Masters, Doha has welcomed famous players from all over the world and recent winners include the likes of Chris DiMarco and Retief Goosen. Set on the shores of the stunning West Bay Lagoon, this championship layout is widely regarded as one of the very best in the Gulf region.
Vast bunkers and lakes place an emphasis on accuracy and make the course a real joy to behold. Like any championship course it stretches to well over 7,000 yards from the back tees and as such is a formidable test of golf.
7 – The Els Club – Dubai
Multiple major winner Ernie Els has joined the growing list of famous names in golf to have completed a golf project in the Middle East and like all of the other entries on this list, his effort is a real stunner. Situated in the exclusive Dubai Sports City, the Els Course has been designed with tournament play in mind and stretches to 7,500 yards; a tough proposition even for the longest hitters.
Pristine fairways have been plotted carefully in the middle of some stunning desert scenery and the contours that Els has designed give the course a distinct links feel which makes it all the more enjoyable. Accuracy from the tee and an efficient short game will be crucial in your battle against old man par.
If your game isn’t as sharp as you would like you can always make use of the Butch Harmon Golf School on-site where top class pros are waiting and willing to iron out any creases in your swing.
8 – Al Badia Golf Resort – Dubai
Al Badia is a world class golf course that was laid down by Robert Trent Jones Jr and featuring an abundance of native plant life and picturesque water hazards the course has the feel of a real desert oasis. The course has a stunning overall look and at 7,303 yards it will present a stern test to even the most talented players. A variety of tee positions do make the course accessible to any golfer though. Perfectly manicured fairways have been sculpted through great rivers of sand that provide changes in elevation and make club selection paramount.
Al Badia Golf Club is among the best equipped of them all, with tennis and squash courts as well as beauty, spa, massage, wellness and lifestyle rooms on site; perfect for relaxing after a day playing golf in the sun. Those who wish to loosen up or work on their game can make use of the world-class golf academy which features swing analysis and club fitting systems, an indoor putting laboratory, floodlit driving range, chipping area and practice putting green.
9 – Abu Dhabi Golf Club – Abu Dhabi
There are 27 stunning holes on offer at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the form of an 18 hole championship test and a more manageable 9 hole course. The 7,334 yard Championship Course is an absolute stunner and players will no doubt enjoy playing a course that is perpetually in perfect condition. The fairways have been carved out of the desert and they wind through gentle undulations, palm trees and salt water lakes. The slick greens are very generous but that can be a blessing in disguise. If you are inaccurate with your approach shots three putting from range is a distinct possibility.
The par 36 nine hole course is also kept to magnificent standards and it provides a more relaxing round compared to the formidable 18 hole layout. Beginners and higher handicappers will love this amazing little course and for those with more experience it is a great place to play if you are pressed for time and 18 holes is not on the cards.
Sir Nick Faldo has forged a strong reputation for being a great course designer in the last decade and the Wadi Course at the flagship golf club in Dubai is yet another magnificent effort. Since Faldo’s refurbishment of the Wadi it has more than lived up to its more illustrious sibling; the Majilis. Measuring an energy sapping 7,328 yards this championship layout will provide even the best players with a stern challenge where accuracy and guile are of great importance. The putting surfaces are very challenging as well and the ever present water can quickly ruin a good scorecard.
Now boasting two outstanding golf courses, the Emirates Golf Club is an absolute must for any golfer visiting the Middle East.
For information on Middle East golf breaks please visit www.yourgolftravel.com or call free on 0800 043 6644.