So Dubai it was, our first golf-related holiday destination in 2015. We’ve been here before and back in the days I checked out the Faldo course at the Emirates Golf Club, a great venue, just a stone’s throw from our residence at the Dubai Marina. The course was fun and I immediately knew that with my next trip to Dubai I would schedule in more rounds of golf. A word and a blow, in preparation for the Dubai 2015 trip I did some research, wrote some emails and came up with a fairly fixed plan to play three great courses in Dubai.
I already played a Montgomerie course (in Belek, Turkey) and the most obvious attribute which stood out was the usage of fairly large wasteland areas—which by the way are rarely to find in Turkey and belongs more to a real desert course like in the UAE or places like Arizona, USA. But the course was interesting and I knew I couldn’t go wrong with that decision to play a round at the Montgomerie Dubai. Especially because the course is situated in one of the most affluent areas of Dubai, Emirates Hills, a good copy of Hollywood Hills or Beverly Hills, at least when the size of the property or the number of servants is taken as a reference.
On a Tuesday I made my way to the course, friends dropped me off the front desk, my clubs were taken care of, all I had to do was to enter the impressive club house, go downstairs and pay the bill for a mid-week round: 825 AED (200 EUR). I knew this trip would be costly but every time the ladies swiped through the credit card during that week, I whined, very silently and only inside, but it hurt…
The locker room at The Address Montgomerie is excellent. It offers everything one could want from a room like this: comfy leather chairs and benches, plenty of lockers, showers, toilets, (…) and fully equipped toiletries: soap, creme, hair gel, deodorant, sun protection (50), after-sun, shaving creme, disposable razors (!) and some things more. I was impressed. And the round hasn’t even started.
I strolled along the clubhouse terrace, watched some people in the pool and decided to see the driving range for some warm-up. After I found my cart and was advised how to use it properly I went on to the academy building, another club house-styled building with yet another terrace right in front of the driving range. So I had spectators… tried to get used to that thought pretty quickly as it was winter in Europe and I haven’t swung a club for 5 months! Luckily all went fine, I immediately found my rhythm, smashed some nice drives along the impressive range with the Dubai Marina skyscrapers in the backdrop. It felt good and I was so happy about my performance during warm-up. Needless to say, I lost that rhythm again on the first tee…
Speaking of first tee, right next to it they had sort of cart path road works, because of which all carts on their way to and from the training facilities had to cross the first hole. That was a bit annoying but hey, I was on holiday, just about to tee off at one of the most beautiful courses in the region and you can believe me, I wasn’t bothered at all.
I wasn’t even bothered when I met my playing partners for the round: a nice couple from Finland, probably 50 years of age. They weren’t talking much but as they had a cart for themselves and I was on my own, I had no problem with it.
By the way, the cart was loaded with tees, towels, ice cold water, repair sand, a scorecard and one of these fancy huge GPS systems. So you know where you are, you know how far to the next obstacle and you know what club to hit. I really like those!
And off we went. It’s February but around midday the sun is already really hot (28°C in the shade) so I had to stay in the cart for the most part not to risk a painful sunburn. In February I’m not that tanned yet you know…
The course layout is a very typical US or Florida-style golf estate course, it meanders along housing areas and you rarely find a place on the course where you only see golf holes instead of golf villas, huge properties and gardens. Frankly you don’t have this at all. But what do you expect from a course in the middle of a bustling city? It basically can’t be that remote like Scottish courses that come to your mind. So all golfers coming to Dubai to play a round of golf, get used to the fact that you will play along houses and especially in Dubai, you’ll have a construction site among them as well.
Fairways at The Address Montgomerie Dubai are undulated but fair in width. Monty obviously tried to create a links-style character paired with a fair resort-style course which suits the most players out there, offering chances to score low, but danger enough to score high also. The Dubai course features similar wasteland areas which I knew already from the other Montgomerie course in Turkey. It was just that here, even though you don’t see any desert here, I believed it belonged here more. Tough to describe but it felt very natural, even with all the houses to the side—which by the way are huge houses! Every villa looks different and jeez, they must cost a fortune! I was told the story that Monty got one of these villas as payoff for designing the course, and shortly after lost it to his ex-wife in the divorce. Ouch! Don’t know whether it’s true but at least it seems possible.
Back to the course, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by the quality or the condition of the fairways and tee boxes. The greens were fine but at least the fairways lacked some intense nursing and maintenance. Comparing this to other courses you could argue that’s rubbish, but paying EUR 200 for a not perfectly staged course is a bit on the high side I believe. I might not give enough justice to the course but I was expecting greener grass and fewer neglected tee boxes. I found exactly this one day later at another course, so I knew it’s possible to have the perfect grass quality, even in the desert at these temperatures. Some days later I read something on the internet that the course had some severe problems with the grass and had to transplant large areas of it. I don’t know if this was related to my experience at all but it seemed an appropriate reason.
Anyway, the course characteristics were fantastic. The course features undulating fairways, forced carries, multiple water hazards, split fairways, troubling bunkering, wasteland areas, tricky shots into the green, quick greens themselves. All in all a fairly challenging setup.
Hole-wise I liked the 4 with a split fairway and a dogleg left with bunkers on the left (short) side; the 6, a nice par 3 over water with a small-ish (or at least hard to find) green; the 9 dogleg left with a narrow fairway and water all the way to the left (I think that hole cost me three balls…) Another interesting hole is the par 3 13 featuring a tee box ring around a island green in the form and shape of the UAE. Missed a clear birdie there. A nice stretch of holes is the 17 and 18, 17 being a well-secured and crazy-bunkered par 3 and the 18 a true test to your golf par 5. Admittedly the fairway is rather wide, but it’s long and there is water to both sides, left and right, the fairway gets split at some point and another (pink!) water hazard waits in front of the narrow-ish green. There are enough obstacles to totally ruin a round of golf. Mine was already ruined 13 holes earlier, so nothing to worry about for me :)
If you come to Dubai and are after some good rounds of golf, I would definitely support you to come play the Montgomerie as it is an interesting setting, has a good character and challenges you as a golfer. You can’t beat that!
After the round, after my clubs and shoes were cleaned and I refreshed myself, I went to the pro shop to buy the club logo ball and a shirt and only there I noticed that the old logo of the club looks a bit dull and the new, with The Address logo on it wasn’t available yet. So there it is, my reason to come back at some point! :)
Last comment, there was one downside to a great golfing day. That wasn’t related to the course, not even to my personal game, which was OK for the most part. It was because of these horrible people I played with. In general I don’t care when I get grouped together with other folks, even in my home club that’s usually the case. Sometimes you get along very well and quick, in some instances you don’t. Nothing to worry about, just happens, you try not to be dragged down by it, forget it and carry on with your life, but this Finnish couple I don’t believe I will ever forget them at all. Please read the next post on golf etiquette to understand why…