Golf has gained a great deal of popularity in the UAE and there are many top-quality courses across the region. UAE also hosts a European Tour golf tournament called the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, held in January every year since 2006. The UAE has even played host to the World Sand Golf Championship in the past. Here are five of the best golf courses in the UAE.
Yas Links, Yas Island
Yas Island is a 6,000 acre multi-billion dollar property renowned for state-of-the-art attractions such as a Formula 1 Grand Prix racing park. Another jewel in its crown is the Yas Links golf course, opened in 2010, and designed by architect Kyle Philips.This was Philips’ first project in the Middle East. The aim was to shape about 2 miles of the coastline and cap the golf course using up to 2 million cubic meters of dredged sand. The course extends to 7,450 yards and comprises an 18-hole layout with five tee positions at each hole. There’s also a 9-hole academy course and a floodlit practice area. Eight of the holes can be found exactly against the coastline. The 9th and 18th holes are known to be particularly challenging.
Emirates Golf Club (Majlis), Dubai
Considered to be the oldest of the golf clubs in Dubai, the Emirates Golf Club still enjoys a high degree of recognition. The clubhouse design in the shape of Bedouin tents is known to be the inspiration of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who played a vital role in elevating Dubai as a major golfing destination. The golf club consists of two 18-hole championship courses that lie amidst several sand dunes. Stretching to about 7,301 yards, fresh and salt-water lakes populate the layout at many holes. Memorable holes include the par three 7th where the full length of a lake comes into play, and the closing hole that extends across another lake, on to a long, narrow double green that resembles a bow-tie.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi
Designed by Peter Harradine in 1998, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club has 27 holes and is considered to be quite a challenge by many pros. Covering 7,600 yards and decorated by lakes and ornamental trees, this oasis-like course has large greens and lush playing surfaces. Water hazards come into play with nine of the 27 holes and golfers must remember to carry plenty of extra golf balls. The clubhouse, shaped like a falcon with outstretched wings, is a spectacular sight and an apt symbol for the modern, yet mystical character of Abu Dhabi.
Al Badia Golf Club, Dubai
The Al Badia Golf Club is an 18-hole championship course that sits at the edge of the historic Dubai Creek. Designed by architect Robert Trent Jones and opened in 2005, the course features the presence and movement of water as a major influence. Twelve of the holes involve water hazards such as waterfalls, lakes and streams, and throughout the course one is aware of the sights and sounds of water. Jones also incorporated his concept of ‘rivers of sand’ in the course, which are sandy waste areas that serve as hazards to make play more challenging. The sands add shadows, texture and elevation across the open spaces and help create a rhythm throughout the course. The Al Badia clubhouse sits in the middle of the course and is beautifully designed to resemble the swirl of a golf swing.
Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi
The Persian Gulf’s first ocean course, the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club opened in 2010. Designed by Gary Player, the eco-conscious club rests against the Arabian Gulf coastline. Player himself hosts the Saadiyat Beach Classic, a charity event that enjoys the participation of many pros. Some of the world’s greatest players have played on this expansive 7,806-yard course that lends itself easily to all playing abilities. Six of the holes have striking views of the Gulf, which may often also include some dolphin sighting. The 5th hole, called ‘Dolphin View’, is one of the most challenging shots. Several five-star hotels lie in close proximity but the course still retains a sense of space. Lakes, dunes, well-placed bunkering and a salt-water lagoon enhance the golfing experience.