#WomenOnCourse campaign inspires a generation at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

Host venue of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, inspires a generation with unique interactive campaign to uncover what makes women great

As 126 of the world’s best female golf professionals prepare to compete in the inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open (FBMLO), 2-5 November, the host venue, Gary Player’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, is inspiring a generation in Abu Dhabi by showcasing the many diverse roles women play across all walks of life with an interactive #WomenOnCourse campaign.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has recognised the opportunity presented by the FBMLO to inspire and support women, both on the golf course and off. The #WomenOnCourse initiative launched yesterday and will continue throughout the tournament week, asking players, spectators and the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club family to get involved and show their support.

Clinton Norris, Sales Manager, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club says, “It is important we use this fantastic event to celebrate the major roles women play in our community and society at large. Our campaign is designed to support the Ladies European Tour and get people thinking and sharing their thoughts, whatever gender, age, ethnicity, so we can all appreciate and openly share how we are inspired by those we know and admire.”

#WomenOnCourse activities kicked off yesterday with a compelling discussion between LET professionals Melissa Reid and Camilla Lennarth, and two inspiring Emirati ladies Sarah Al Nowais, founder of FitNut Blog and co-founder TheADmovement and Fatima Al Ali, Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy as they shared their ideas on what makes women great and their thoughts about being ‘on course’, both in the literal sense of the golf course, and also ‘on course’ in life.

Camilla Lennarth said, “Whether it’s to win a tournament this season or achieve a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle, setting goals and check-points is integral to staying on course. What makes women great is their ability to empower one another and support their peers throughout these journeys. Being here in Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity to showcase golf and inspire the next generation.”

Sarah Al Nowais said, “TheADmovement was created to support and encourage women in Abu Dhabi to participate in an active lifestyle and sports. Seeing all these women here at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, taking part in the first ladies professional golf tournament in Abu Dhabi has really inspired me to try golf and I hope that other women take the chance to visit during the event weekend.”

Monday evening also saw Saadiyat Beach Golf Club host a clinic for 16 students from the Higher Colleges of Technology. Leading up to the FMBLO, the club in collaboration with FBMA, has hosted a Training Program – offering Emirati women and students a series of 10 lessons over a five week period. Fatima Al Ali, who participated in the training said “I really love golf now that I’ve taken part in the sessions and it’s so exciting to meet some of the world’s best players here in Abu Dhabi.”

The #WomenOnCourse campaign continues, with the club asking the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club family, the players, tournament spectators and general golf fans to get involved and share their thoughts on what makes women great.

(External source)

Costa Navarino and Monte Rei celebrate back-to-back WLG award successes

The stunning Greek resort of Costa Navarino, in the Peloponnese, has been honoured at the prestigious World of Leading Golf (WLG) awards for the third successive year.

WLG, an organisation representing many of the most renowned golf clubs and resorts in 17 countries, has held an award ceremony only for the past three years – and Costa Navarino is the only resort to have collected a ‘gong’ at each of the ceremonies.

In the first year it was for ‘best newcomer’; last year it was for ‘best service’; and this year, at a ceremony at Golf Son Gual, in Mallorca, it took the title for ‘best overall impression’.

The ‘environmentally responsible’ resort, in Messinia, comprises a number of distinct and complementary sites featuring five-star hotels, residences, spas and leisure facilities, including two stunning championship golf courses: the Dunes and the Bay.

But it wasn’t the only destination to get the warm familiar glow of award success, for Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, in the Eastern Algarve, took the top award for the second successive occasion. Last year it was titled ‘best member’ – this year the title was renamed ‘best overall venue’, but the outcome was the same.

Monte Rei features a championship Jack Nicklaus signature course in more than 1,000 acres of countryside, and was voted Portugal’s number one in the 2016 Golf Digest ‘best courses’ ranking.

Club de Golf Alcanada – the only course in Mallorca adjacent to the sea – received the award for ‘best service’, with particular emphasis being placed on the friendliness, competence and up-selling ability of its employees.

Its Robert Trent Jones Jnr course opened in 2003 and blends naturally into the typical Mallorcan terrain, while offering magnificent mountain and sea views, amid mixture of pine and olive groves. In addition, the club boasts a centuries-old Mallorca clubhouse with a sun-baked terrace.

For golfing gourmands, it did not come as too much of a shock to learn that the award for ‘best culinary offering’ went to Golf Club Beuerberg, in Eurasburg, Germany.

Beuerberg, located 20 miles south of Munich, opened in 1982 and is a former host venue of the European Ladies Open. The restaurant, under the experienced auspices of Urs Zondler, who has been in charge of the kitchen since it opened, is renowned not just for the quality and variety of food, but also the ambience and service.

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Links joined WLG only in early 2016, yet it created such an impression that it was awarded the title of ‘best course condition’.

Sprawled out along almost two miles of sandy Arabian Gulf coast, the Kyle Phillips’ design was the first links course in the Middle East. Measuring 7,414 yards off the tips, Yas Links took more than three years to construct and has eight holes abutting the coastline itself. It is ranked number one in the Middle East and #46 in the world by Golf Digest; and it sits at #62 in the world ranking with Platinum Clubs of the World.

The three-time Volvo World Match Play venue, Finca Cortesin – located just inland from the Malaga coast – took the honour of ‘best newcomer’, which seems to be a platform for future glories.

Its 6,802m, par-72 championship course opened in 2007 and is ranked as one of Spain’s best. Designed by Cabell B Robinson, it makes the most of its natural Mediterranean landscape and includes 20 varieties of flora and a forest. It also incorporates a Jack Nicklaus Academy and offers a golf-club valet and cleaning service, state-of-the-art practice facilities, buggies with the latest GPS technology, and an on-course buggy bar for ice-cold drinks.

Claus Feldt, WLG’s chief executive, said: “Once again we were able to reward the crème de la crème of WLG members. The standard of competition for all of these awards is probably the highest anywhere given that all WLG members have to attain amazingly high levels anyway; so to emerge victorious in any category is a real badge of honour for golf resorts.

“It makes you really proud to work in an industry where so many people take such immense pride in what they offer to their clientele. We should also give our thanks to everybody who came along to enjoy the evening’s activities and to Andreas Pamer and his team at Son Gual for the use of their stunning venue and their excellent hospitality.”

Alcanada’s director of golf, Kristoff Both, added: “It was a really memorable and enjoyable evening; a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people, and to exchange views and ideas in a very convivial atmosphere. To receive this prestigious award alongside so many other fantastic clubs is a huge honour for us.”

WLG and its member clubs are passionately committed to preserve golf culture, but not only by heeding to such things as rules, dress code and etiquette – they commit to the very highest of quality standards concerning the design and caretaking of golf courses and services, as well as the levels of ambiance and gastronomy.

(External source)

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club Listed in World’s Most Iconic and Influential Clubhouses

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, the premier golf resort in the Middle East located in the heart of Dubai, is proud to join the ranks of the world’s most well-known Clubhouses in Golf.com’s recent listing of The 18 Most Iconic Clubhouses.

The influential list compiled by leading Golf Magazine’s Joe Passov has recognised Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and its home the UAE, as being a destination for this world class sport, acknowledging the club for its impressive aesthetics, architecture and history alongside the 18-hole championship golf course it is renowned for.

Coming in at number eight on this respected list, special reference is made toward the iconic nautical heritage of the Club’s concrete ‘sails’ and everything it represents.

“It is a great honour for Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club to be included in such a prestigious list of world-renowned golf clubs. Our iconic clubhouse is a Dubai landmark, which represents the city’s important nautical heritage, as well as being the only golf clubhouse in the world to be featured on the Nation’s banknote. To join the prestigious list of golf clubhouses including The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews and Augusta National Golf Club, as well as being the only club from the Middle East really puts golf in Dubai on the international map”. Christopher May, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Golf.

(External source)

Sandy golf at Saadiyat Beach

We know Dubai quite well, been there multiple times, played various courses and figured we should see Abu Dhabi as well. It’s just one hour from Dubai and worth a visit.

Abu Dhabi is definitely not as spectacular as Dubai but that’s mainly on purpose. They don’t feel the need to put their country into that stress of becoming world’s best, biggest, tallest, etc. The largest of the seven Emirates by landmass however offers some interesting tourist attractions itself: the mosque, the Emirates Palace, the Corniche, various architectural highlights, some big malls, the F1 circuit, the Ferrari World, just to name a few.

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This is why it's called Saadiyat Beach! #GolfUAE16

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We decided to stay for three days and spoiled ourselves with two nights at the magnificent St. Regis Saadiyat Island. The island is situated north of downtown Abu Dhabi but not more than a 10 minutes drive from the Corniche. So it was close enough to easily discover the city and remote enough to enjoy the beautiful beach and tranquility of the hotel compound.

The St. Regis is a fantastic hotel and there is another feature I was interested in: the Gary Player beach-side championship golf course.

Abu Dhabi offers at least three great golf courses, Abu Dhabi GC, Yas Links GC and Saadiyat Beach GC. We all know Abu Dhabi GC from the famous European Tour event. It’s a fantastic course which without a doubt is on my bucket list for quite some time. The same is true for Yas and Saadiyat. So I had the choice but as we were staying at the St. Regis, it was pretty obvious we would go for the home course, not only because I was offered a special rate as hotel guest and Starwood Friend.

Through the booking process and some additional points on golf, I was introduced to a young man named Clinton, acting as the Abu Dhabi Starwood Sales Manager for golf. Coincidentally he had planned to play a round with his dad the very same day, so we played alongside in one group and enjoyed the course, the weather and the company.

What’s needed at Saadiyat Beach is pure target golf. It’s not always the driver you should choose for your tee shot, it’s more a spot you need to decide to put your ball and then make the club selection accordingly. Sometimes it’s a mid or long iron which brings you closer to a par at this course than the big stick.

The course offers lots of sand (who would have thought…), numerous water hazards, interesting architectural features, a very good condition in general and many endemic gazelles. What I didn’t know was that ‘Abu Dhabi’ actually means ‘Father of the Gazelle’ and hence there is a long heritage for this animal in the region.

As a course in the UAE you can imagine, the one resource they have plenty is sand. And yes there are a lot of bunkers on this course. All bunkers are slightly bigger than normal, fairway bunkers seemed all in play and there are some green side bunkers you really want to avoid. Also, the sand itself was very hard so it was a bit tricky to operate out of the bunkers.

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Difficult to concentrate on golf! Great views.

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Most impressive holes:

  • 2: Split fairways with the choice to either go left or right
  • 5: Par 4 with water to the left, playing towards the beach
  • 6: Par 3, literally ‘on’ the beach with the hole by the St. Regis beach/pool area
  • 14: Interrupted fairway
  • 15: Again an interrupted fairway, with an approach over water
  • 16: Beautiful par 4 towards the beach
  • 17: Picturesque par 3 on the beach
  • 18: Worthy finishing hole, dogleg right with water all the way on the right

The reason why I can’t rate the course with an eight or better, is mainly because of the construction work next to it going on right now. There are some hotels and villas being put up and that’s a bit annoying. Nothing too bad, and gone in mid-term but a factor why I only rate the course: 7/10

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – a nice course in the heart of Dubai

If you’ve read my last post, you might have realised that I started to struggle to find good and affordable courses in Dubai for our trip in April. This is mainly because of four things:

  1. Dubai courses are in general a bit more expensive than everything you know from back home. That’s possibly explainable by the quality and luxury you usually find at these clubs.
  2. Dubai courses are artificial areas in an environment which doesn’t actually fit. Purely from a biological and agricultural perspective, so much green grass does not belong in the desert, and maintaining it to the highest standards is difficult and expensive.
  3. The Euro/Dirham FX rate has been plummeting in recent months. No good news for European travellers!
  4. I have to admit I only checked the expensive courses because those are still missing on my list! In other words, when you are trying to play the Majlis, the Earth and Abu Dhabi, you can’t complain about cost, because it’s basically the creme de la creme of UAE courses which comes at a price. 

Looking around Dubai and Abu Dhabi there are certainly nice other alternatives to play, one of which is definitely the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. This course is located a bit more away from all the others but in contrast to them, more or less in the heart of the old part of Dubai. This has some pros and cons which I will discuss in a minute.

What attracted me was a couple of things: it’s quite famous because it’s one of the first ones ever opened here, it has an iconic club house and features one of the most famous tee boxes in golf world-wide!

But one thing after the other. I got a taxi to the course, checked in and was quite happy that my booking via Golfscape the night before, worked quite nicely. And I got it at a price which the official website did not offer – which was a bonus.

In mid-day heat I started to hit some balls on the range, which was indeed necessary as I haven’t had touched a golf club for a couple of months; this was my first round in 2016! After two pyramids of golf balls and some first thoughts around how to cope with and stay out of the sun, I started my round.

I got my own cart and played on my own. Not much traffic at all. The two-ball in front of me I had overtaken at the second hole already. From that point onwards I had nobody in front and behind me until maybe the third last hole. So one could say the course was pretty empty!

The course quality I would rate with a ‘good’. There were some yellow-ish and brown areas here and there but after all you can see that those people are trying to keep it in the best possible shape. This is apparently tricky around April as someone told me later, because this is the time when the winter-grass disappears and makes room for the summer-grass. That was supposed to be the reasoning behind the various grass colours on the course.

But I didn’t bother too much and tried to get the nicest round possible in the books, i.e. scorecard. I wasn’t doing that badly, lost some balls but at the same time hammered some nice tee shots (…unusual…) and played some great pars and even a birdie. Not bad for the first round of the year, however in 35°C much more likely than with the common winter golf attire you need in Central Europe in that season.

Some comments on the setting of the course: as mentioned earlier, it’s a city course. Which is good for the accessibility of the property but at the same time comes with all negative side effects. Some holes are routed along congested highways and the metro. Unfortunately this is not only the case for one or two but for several holes.

The course has four faces I would say: the highway, the residences, the inner course and the creek side. The highway is bad, that’s pretty obvious. The residential area is very common in the UAE as the golf holes meander through town houses and villas, so that’s a normal thing to experience. The inner course is a part of the course where multiple holes are next to each other without any structures or obstacles in between. This area was very nice and was followed by some holes along the creek shore line.

The latter is indeed nice to look at, you see boats, seaplanes and the Dubai skyline in the background.

But let me go back a bit. Hole 6 stands out, no doubt about it. As shown above, the tee box is a concrete island structure which you reach via a small bridge. So you walk onto the little grassy island, tee up your ball and play back to the mainland. I’m not sure about some official rankings but for me this belongs to the Top 5 tee boxes world-wide.

After the round I relaxed on the sun terrace of the iconic club house (which resembles the sails of an Arab dhow) and made plans for the next round.

Holes that really stood out:

  • 2: Par 4, over water, unfortunately next to the highway
  • 6: Impressive tee box, water and a great setting
  • 8: Par 3 over water
  • 10: Par 5 along water
  • 13: Par 5 with an island green
  • 16: Nice par 3 towards the Dubai Creek
  • 17,18: Beautiful home stretch along the creek, over water on the 18th, towards the club house

Golficiency Rating: 6/10

When did UAE golf courses get THAT expensive?!

Is it just me or did actually the UAE golf courses become more expensive over the last 12 months?! Last time we went down to Dubai we played

  • Jumeirah Golf Estates, Fire Course
  • The Address Montgomerie
  • The Els Club

…and it has been absolutely amazing! More expensive than the clubs I know around the corner here but still quite affordable, but then we figured we could go to Dubai AND Abu Dhabi this year. So as you do as a golf maniac you check out courses we could play this time.

On the list for this year:

  • Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course
  • Emirates Golf Club, Majlis Course
  • Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
  • Yas Links Golf Club

But then I checked prices and I have to tell you guys, I’m pretty astonished by the green fees they are charging! “Cheapest” is Yas Links with 650 AED/157 EUR which is rather fair I’d say. But then next would be Saadiyat with 945 AED/228 EUR which already is pretty steep. Jumeirah Earth with 995 AED/ 240 EUR is in the same ballpark but the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club won’t let you play for less than 1,200 AED/290 EUR…! Well I’d call that a bit out of the league.

No question, all of these courses are absolutely fantastic venues but seriously if they continue with such pricing, in 5 years there won’t be any golfers left to be interested playing, I bet. Even last time at The Els Club I was pretty much alone on the course in the middle of the day—and that wasn’t because of the heat!

Golf Travel 2016: The United Arab Emirates (again)


When people asked me what new year’s resolutions I had for 2016, I tell them “play more golf”. Of course I have quite some ambition for my handicap this year too, but playing more and more regular golf is something everybody can understand and relate to—even non-golfers.

Although the new year is just three weeks old, we are already working on some plans for a fantastic golf trip to the United Arab Emirates in March or April. This time we are looking to spend 10 days in the UAE and split it up between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

As this will be the first time for us to travel to Abu Dhabi, we will most definitely squeeze in some sightseeing as well, but golf should play a substantial part of the trip. Looking at the Golficiency Bucket List, there are some really big names in golf, which we want to tackle this time:


  • Emirates Golf Club, Majlis Course
  • Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course

Abu Dhabi

  • Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
  • Yas Island Golf Club

Every one of these courses stands out in a very unique way. The Majlis as being one of the first courses in the UAE, hosting numerous professional events such as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic; Greg Norman’s Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf forms the famous season finale to the European Tour with the DP World Tour Championship; Gary Player’s Saadiyat Beach course situated right by the sea featuring a combination of desert and links golf at the same time; and finally Kyle Phillips’ Yas Island Golf Club, part of the multi-billion Yas Island complex with the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit, the Ferrari World theme park and the golf course just adjacent to it.

Although we are quite experienced with desert golf and courses in Dubai in particular, we cannot wait for this trip and these fantastic courses we have on our agenda.

If for whatever reason we’re not able to play two rounds of golf in Abu Dhabi, we might consider playing the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club instead. That beauty is still missing on the Dubai map, too.

Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis Course Named Best Course in the Middle East

The iconic Majlis Golf Course at Emirates Golf Club, the annual host of the European Tour sanctioned Omega Dubai Desert Classic, has officially been recognised as the ‘Best Course in the Middle East’ at the recent ‘Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2015’, held at the Orchid Country Club in Singapore. This is the second time in five years that the Majlis course has been awarded this prestigious award at the coveted Asian Pacific Golf Summit.

Emirates Golf Club remains an iconic golfing venue in the United Arab Emirates. The Club was the first all grass course in the Middle East when it opened in 1988 and today boasts world-class golfing facilities on the championship Majlis and Faldo courses, combined with casual and fine-dining restaurants, swimming, fitness and recreation facilities making it a renowned all-encompassing leisure hub.

Having recently become the first club in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to become GEO Certified, this accolade further confirms the club’s position at the forefront of golf worldwide and being recognized as the best of the best in the golf industry in the Asia Pacific. Andrew Whitelaw, Club Manager of the Emirates Golf Club explained;

“Over the years the Emirates Golf Club has received a number of significant awards but its particular pleasing to be recognised by such an increasingly influential golfing market at a time when new championship courses continue to be opened in the Middle East. Despite the healthy competition, these awards underline the Emirates Golf Club’s international reputation as the home to one of world’s finest championship courses.”

Since its introduction as the first grass course in the region in 1988 through the inspired vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Majlis Course affectionately known as ‘The Desert Miracle’, has matured into a modern day classic.

Source: International Golf Travel Writers Association

Planning for Dubai and Abu Dhabi 2016


With the South Africa trip around the corner it seems unreal to already plan for the next trip but this is how it goes, one golf trip after the other… as you do when you suffer from the golf virus big time.

Early next year, most likely end of March, Dubai is back on our itinerary. This time we’ll extend our time in Dubai with some more days in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates which form the UAE. Although larger in size, Abu Dhabi does not offer the variety of golf courses compared to Dubai, however the quality of the courses you do find there, seems to be outrageously high.

That’s what we are heading for. Filling gaps with courses we haven’t played in Dubai and then also one or two jewels in Abu Dhabi. Currently this is what we have in mind:

Abu Dhabi has another treasure to offer, the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, a Gary Player course (as shown above), but we think two rounds are enough for a good start. And we want to leave some courses for another visit to the region, such as the Dubai Creek, Arabian Ranches and some more.

So in case you have some valuable comments or feedback, please don’t hesitate and let us know below in the comments. You can be assured that we’re looking forward to that trip also and we’ll bring along some good stories about it.

The Jumeirah Golf Estates are on Fire

Day 3 of desert golf in Dubai lead me to the famous Jumeirah Golf Estates. Probably you don’t recall this name but once a year, there’s a big golf tournament in Dubai; no it’s not the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, it’s the other one, the even more important, the DP World Tour Championship, the grand finale tournament of a European Tour season. This is where the leader of the Race to Dubai is crowned, where we’re talking big money and where legends are born.

And we’re talking great golf on one of the most prestigious courses in the Middle East. Currently the property features 2 courses designed by Greg Norman, the Earth and the Fire. The Earth is the more mature, the manicured, the highly maintained super golf course with finest white bunker sand and famous for hosting so many extraordinary professional tournaments… Just FYI, I played the other one. This is the story.


The Jumeirah Golf Estates are situated pretty much next to The Els Club, i.e. near Dubai Sports City, a bit outside the city. You drive through nothing than sand on empty roads until at some point and out of nothing you see loads of green trees. You realise it’s the entrance to something which you find in Dubai so often—gated communities which keep real treasures inside, like oysters: some of the best golf courses in the world.

Jumeirah Golf Estates offer two courses. Initially they planned for 4, named after the 4 elements, but currently they only have the Earth and the Fire up and running. Both are designed by Greg Norman. Nobody really knows what happened to the plans for Wind and Water.

It wasn’t even easy to find the golf club house when we entered the property through the main entrance. Later I figured that they just haven’t found the time to put up a proper sign as the club house was re-opened not so much before, so we touched holy ground which was just opened weeks ago, the club house that is. But this came to my mind again quite often that day when I was looking for the way to the next hole—there were just no signs at all.

Anyway, I was dropped off at the front desk, unloaded my bag and made my way into the pro shop to pay the bill. The Fire course, which I decided to play is more affordable than the Earth, and later I understood why. The Fire green fee goes for 655 AED (160 EUR) whereas the Earth costs 795 AED (190 EUR) for 18 holes on a weekday. As the days before have been so costly in terms of green fee (Montgomerie and Els are no bargain either!) I figured it’s time to save some money and went for the Fire. Worst decision to make if you ask me.

So I went back outside, looking for my clubs, i.e. the cart to which my clubs were strapped. Eventually I found them on a cart, full of rubbish and dirty like crazy. I was told that they didn’t find the time to look for a proper cart and asked whether I would be so kind as to drive to the driving range myself and change into a new one. I wasn’t in the mood to start a discussion hence I did how I was told and tried to find the way to the range. As there were no signs whatsoever, this was a fairly tedious process.

I found the range, looked forward to get a new cart, smiled at some staff but they didn’t smile back and kept on working, which by the way was something between just staring and doing nothing. So the service I have to say wasn’t the best out here. At some point I asked a guy to help me, he managed to set my new cart up and I was ready to go. I jumped on, kickstarted the vehicle on my way to the first hole… which I couldn’t find because, yes you guessed it, there were no signs.


After asking around I found the first tee of the Fire course, no starter in sight at his desk, so I took the liberty and stocked up a little: 2 pencils, 10 tees, 1 metal divot tool, 3 scorecards (as a souvenir), a pin sheet and a yardage book… Yardage book? This was the moment when I realised that the carts weren’t equipped with GPS screens. Horror scenario! I left my GPS watch at home as I believed that all these top-notch clubs already have arrived in the 21st century, but this one obviously hasn’t. Tricked me big time. As I don’t use radars, I had a lot of guess-work ahead of me. That was also the moment in which I decided not to give a damn about the score anymore. Also, I got a pin sheet but there was no information of today’s location. I guess the starter would have given me that info but as there was nobody, I was left with nothing.

The hole was free, I was a bit ahead of time and decided to practise the putting for a moment. So I did, and after a while I decided to tee off from the green markers, the second farthest here.

I smashed a 2-iron in the middle of the fairway and was only left with a small chip shot onto the green. That was a good start! Birdie chance missed but could be worse for an unknown course without any GPS. I hopped back onto the cart, looked for the right path to the 2 and off I went. At the tee box I realised that the group in front of me was still there! Wow, they must have been super slow, as at least for 15 minutes I couldn’t see anybody on the first hole. One of the two gentlemen must have been 90 years old, guessed from the far. So I waited and waited, and waited for a couple of holes. On hole 4 a marshal came by and told me that I might play through but they had some other slow groups in front of them also. So it was supposed to be a very long, warm day. Hole no 2 by the way was a very nice par 3, downhill with a forced carry to a well secured green.

After hole 5 I had to wait for so long that the group behind me joined me at the tee 6th and we decided to play together. Those guys were North-English lads, both named Gary, in their 50s, retired, Dubai residents, club members and just came over from the Earth course, where they already played the first 9 but left as it was too crowded. Later they mentioned they come here and play 5 times a week! What a life! I immediately hated mine…

Hole no 6 is a great one. It features large bunkers, both in the fairway and in front of the green. The second shot on this par 4 is uphill and if the ball does’t bite you have a problem. In that case it could happen that it won’t stop rolling back for 30-40 metres or so. The green is fair in size but quick as an arrow and it’s shaped like a genuine Donal Ross’ Pinehurst No. 2 turtleback. Absolutely hard to measure and an absolute bogey-hole although relatively easy to reach in two. My second found the rough to the left of the green, I chipped it near the flag and left with a par.

The bunkers are quite interesting, whereas they are not very beautiful. The Earth course has crisp white sand but the Fire here has a very dark orange type of sand and feels like powdered sugar. Tricky to get a good feeling for good bunker shots!

Next memorable hole was the 8, a par 3 along a lake. Length was about 200 metres and obviously I took my 2-iron, landed it on the green, one putt, birdie, happy times!

I have mixed feelings about the course. That’s mainly because it’s more than OK from an architectural standpoint (although there are no overly fancy holes) but from an esthetical perspective I was somewhat disappointed. The fairways lack maintenance and there are too many spots around the green or on the fairway which just don’t look alright. The greens are OK but the rest of the course is not more than mediocre, just taking the pure course condition into account. I was told that this is different at the Earth course, which is supposed to be more maintained, better kept, more extensively looked after. That’s a shame if you ask me: yes OK, there is a price difference and yes, the other one is more famous but I don’t see a reason to somewhat neglect one course which is right next to the other, built at the same time, designed by the same guy, just doesn’t make sense to me. Especially when they will proceed at some point with the Water course (designed by Vijay Singh) and the Wind course (designed by Sergio Garcia, Pete Dye and Greg Norman)—what will they do with 4 courses? Still concentrate on only one of them? I hope not.


Have I mentioned that I almost made a wrong turn to a wrong hole? Correct, there were no signs. Is this actually the same at the Earth course? (Please comment below if you know).

After hole 9 Gary and Gary had enough for the day and left after a warm handshake and after mentioning how great Dubai is. Yeah, rub it in mate!

Being all on my own again meant that I had to wait longer. Hole 10 is quite boring, 11 also, 12 is alright, a bit uphill but nothing special. The 13 however is a long par 5 with wasteland areas resp. huge bunkers and 2 things I’ll remember about this hole: The pace of play was so slow that we had 4 groups on it at the same time. One on the green, one waiting for the approach shot, one waiting for the second shot and one waiting for teeing off. I had to wait so long, I could hear the grass grow. Oh wait, no, the second fact because I’ll remember this hole was the noise! Here in the most eastern part of the property they are still building houses next to the fairways and this was extremely loud. No surprise when there are literally 100 builders working per villa. You’ll pay a lot of money for those villas but you probably don’t want to see them during the construction phase. They look like they collapse like a house of cards during the first desert storm.

Anyhow, it was so slow that I joined again with the group behind me, 2 chaps more my age. One had an American accent, the other was British but lived in Abu Dhabi, and shame on me I forgot both names.

Holes 14 and 15 stand out as water comes into play again. 14 is a 200 metre par 3 over water towards a green right next to the lake. To avoid it I aimed a bit left and ended in the green side bunker. The next, hole 15, features quite a forced carry over the lake and then an interesting second into the well-bunkered green. I hit my tee shot fat a little and couldn’t reach the fairway, got wet.

Hole 16 seemed to be one of the shortest par 4s ever. I found myself in the fairway bunker but the other guy, the British, an excellent player by the way, took his driver off the tee and almost landed on the green. He was off a bit to the right but not more that 10m from the fringe. Impressive.

17 was a good hole for me but the 18 was an absolute nightmare. My tee shot landed in the thick stuff on the right. I had an awkward stance, didn’t hit it well enough and the second landed again in the rough. To cut a long story short, the third one again ended up in the rough and I had problems to bring the round to a good end.

Eventually I putted, thanked my playing partners, turned around to the gorgeous new club house and wished I had played the Earth course instead. Inside the clubhouse I looked for the locker room again and spent a while in there. It lacks for nothing, including sauna, and jacuzzi. Then I bought the obligatory logo balls and shirt, jumped in a taxi and made my way back Downtown Dubai bound, knowing that was it with golf in Dubai on this trip. It was special and worth every cent, or Dirham I should say.

That night we went out for a great outdoor dinner at the Vida Hotel in Downtown Dubai, followed by a party in the Armani/Privé nightclub based in the Burj Khalifa. I love Dubai! For its golf courses, people, attitude, possibilities, temperature and lifestyle. Next time we’ll be in the area, we’ll definitely try to see Abu Dhabi as well, and with it the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the Yas Links and Saadiyat Beach. That will be grand!