The UAE is becoming a haven for championship golf courses. Kaye Holland suggests the best layouts for a variety of holiday golfers
For a country that was only formed in 1971, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hasn’t half hogged the headlines thanks to its single minded pursuit of superlatives – the seven star hotels, the man made islands, the world’s tallest tower…. But the desert kingdom is also - owing to advancements in technology - becoming a haven for championship golf courses. Here’s the low-down on five of the best…
Best for beginners: Al Hamra Golf Club
Tucked away at the northern tip of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is less crowded than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, making the emirate’s Al Hamra Golf Club a great choice for golf novices to practice in peace. Designed by renowned golf course architect, Peter Harradine, the course incorporates both open water lagoons and desert landscapes resulting in a stunning par 72 championship course measuring 7,325 yards at full length with five varying tee options on each hole. Green fee from AED275; ww.alhamragolf.com
Best for serious golfers: Yas Links Abu Dhabi
The Middle East’s first and only Links course was over three years in construction but the wait was worth it. Set among rolling hills and delicate mangrove plantations on the western shores of Yas Island - Abu Dhabi’s landmark entertainment destination - every hole boasts arresting visas of the Arabian Gulf. Gorgeous views aside, the beloved Kyle Phillips designed course, with its uneven fairways, pot bunkers and unpredictable wind conditions, offers golfers the ultimate challenge. Little wonder the par 72 championship course, which stretches to a demanding 7,450 yards, has been hailed by Golf Digest Magazine as the ‘24th best course in the world outside the US’.
Green fees vary. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information; www.yaslinks.com
Best for families: Tower Links Golf Club
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the UAE’s ultimate holiday destinations, but families may prefer the sleepy emirate of Ras Al Khaimah whose Tower Links Club is set against the backdrop of the stunning Hajar mountains and mangroves - as opposed to modern shopping malls. With four tees to choose from, golfers of all handicaps can enjoy this 7,199 yard, par 72, 18 hole course whose back nine holes are fully floodlit allowing for night golf. What’s more, the golf carts on the course are GPS enabled meaning even a first time golfer can catch up on the course layout, in no time. There’s also a world class clubhouse equipped with a pro shop, restaurant, gym and spa.
Green fee from AED650; www.towerlinksgolfclub.golfgaga.com
Best for couples: Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Designed by golfing great, Gary Player, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is the Gulf’s first ocean course. As such stunning seaside views (keep your eyes peeled for dolphins) come as standard.
The club’s 18-holes are of varying difficulty from challenging par 3s with gently contoured greens, to par 5s with strategically positioned bunkers and water features aligning the immaculately shaped fairways. But the best bit? The course, which has been graced by the A-list likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Ernie Els, weaves in and out of several superlative five-star hotels - perfect for a romantic getaway.
Green fee from AED550; www.sbgolfclub.ae
Best for groups: Abu Dhabi Golf Club
Home to the European PGA Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship since 2006, this par-72, 7,334-yard Championship course provides a tough-but-fair challenge with 18 holes of lush fairways, 90 strategically placed bunkers and generous greens. Presiding over the course is the Middle East’s most striking clubhouse - a winged falcon perched atop a golf ball - that encompasses a state of the art gym, large, swimming pool, sauna and steam room and three fantastic restaurants. Bottom line? There’s plenty to keep groups engaged after they’ve finished on the fairways.
Green fee from AED550; www.adgolfclub.com
PART 2: Box Copy, Essentials
When to go
The best time to play is between the months of November and March when the weather is warm and sunny virtually every single day. Summer (June-September) is hot and humid - temperatures have been known to top 50 degrees. Golfers will also want to avoid visiting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when drinking and eating in public is unacceptable.
Emirates Airline fly from London to Dubai- one of the most acclaimed airports in the world - in under seven hours.
UK citizens will be granted a free visit visa on arrival - expect your passport to be stamped as you pass through immigration. The visa is valid for 30 days but can be extended for an additional 30 days, by visiting an immigration office and paying an extension fee.
At the time of writing, no specific vaccinations are required for entry to the UAE, but it would be wise to check with your GP prior to travelling.
Getting aroundOfficial taxis are air conditioned, well maintained and metered but beware: huge volumes of traffic can turn a 20 minute journey into a two hour long grid-lock nightmare - particularly in Abu Dhabi.
Tourist board contact