Golf

What to see and do in Ras Al Khaimah

Tucked away away at the northern tip of the UAE lies the country’s most underrated emirate, Ras Al Khaimah.

You won’t find the gargantuan skyscrapers, shopping malls and bars that dominate Dubai and Abu Dhabi but you will be struck by a cultural authenticity that is hard to find in the other emirates.

Make no mistake: Ras Al Khaimah abounds in archaeological sites, historical structures and natural beauty – from mountains to deserts and pristine white-sand beaches.

Factor in year-round sunshine, first class resorts and friendly locals –  and you have an up and coming UAE holiday destination.

Discover the top 10 things to do and see in Ras Al-Khaimah with our handy guide…
 

The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah
Located in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah city in a fort that was the residence of the ruling family until the early 1960s, The National Museum houses a collection of archaeological and ethnological artefacts. Visitors will learn about architecture, pearl diving, date agriculture, farming and fishing in the various galleries. 
www.rakheritage.rak.ae/en/pages/rakmuseum.aspx

 

Scaling the Hajar Heights
The spectacular Hajar Mountains in the eastern part of the emirate, were formed over 70 million years ago and stand nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. 
The mountain range offers breath-taking scenery and a welcome respite from the heat of the beach resorts, with temperatures around 10 degrees cooler than sea level. For those who wish to spend the night under the stars, there are a number of established camping spots or, to really get into the Arabian spirit, why not camp Bedouin-style in some remote wadis?

 

Just desert
No visit to Ras Al Khaimah is complete without taking a trip into the desert – the true heart of Arabia.
Virtually every tour operator offers a half or full day desert safari tour: after dune driving you can have your hands henna’ed, then make like Lawrence of Arabia and ride a camel, before enjoying a desert sunset, Arabic barbecue and a bit of belly dancing.


Get wet
Seven tenths of the world is covered in water and as satirist Dave Barry once quipped: “Staying on top of the water is like standing outside the circus tent.”
As enjoyable as activities above the water are, it’s what lies beneath that is of real interest – particularly in Ras Al Khaimah, arguably the finest emirate in the UAE for snorkelling, diving and exploring the marine life.
Adrenaline junkies will also be in seventh heaven:  jet-skiing, fly-boarding, wake-boarding, parasailing and banana boat rides are all on offer along the 64km coastline.


Explore Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village
This abandoned fishing village, just outside of Ras Al Khaimah, is one of the oldest and best preserved coastal villages in the UAE (with roots dating back to the 16th century) and serves as a reminder of life before the oil boom. One caveat: watch out for ghosts – some of the abandoned buildings are believed to be haunted.


Al Marjan Island
Al Marjan, a series of four connected man-made islands, is located in the west of Ras Al Khaimah. Extending a vast 4.5km into the sea, the island covers an area of 2.7 million square metres. With waterfront homes, quality hotels and resorts, marinas, private resident beaches, leisure, retail and recreational facilities, this ambitious development represents the direction in which RAK is headed.
http://almarjanisland.com/


Tee time
Most visitors flock to Ras Al Khaimah to fly and flop but the underrated emirate is also a great destination for golfers, thanks its enviable climate and world class golf courses including Al Hamra Golf Club. 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
www.alhamragolf.com


Discover Dhayah Fort
This 16th-century mud-brick fort was built in a strategic hilltop position facing the Gulf to defend the region from attack by the British and was the last holdout, before eventually falling in December 1819.
More recently it housed the royal family until 1964 when, following a very short period as a local prison, it opened to the general public as a place to celebrate Emirati history.


Zip lining
A world record-breaking zip line measuring 2.83km – equivalent to over 28 football pitches – and reaching speeds close to 150km per hour is the latest addition to Ras Al Khaimah’s claim to be the adventure capital of the Middle East.
Via Ferrata – which means iron street/path in Italian –  includes three courses along the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, aka the UAE’s highest mountain.
If you think you have what it take, secure your spot at www.jebeljais.ae/book-now/


Park life
Opened in the 1990s, Saqr Park  is the largest public park in Ras Al Khaimah, and is known for its vast areas of greenery. It is the perfect spot for big kids and little kids alike to relax and unwind featuring, as it does, green spaces, playgrounds and other facilities.

Glossary of golf

“The only way of really finding out a man’s true character,” PG Wodehouse once observed, “is to play golf with him. In no other walk of life does the cloven hoof so quickly display itself.”

Wodehouse was rarely wrong and as a result, golfers have been bonding in the bunkers for centuries.

Ahead of the fourth annual World Golf Awards- which will see golf tourism figureheads and market leaders from North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Central & South America and Australasia gather together at the five star La Manga Club resort in Murcia from 23-26 November - here’s the low-down on the golfing lingo you need to know:

 

Ace
Also known as a hole in one, an ace is a hole completed in a single stroke.

Par
The number of shots it should take you to get the ball into the hole.

Birdie
A hole completed one stroke under par.

Fore
If you hit a ball and it’s headed toward other players, yell “fore” to alert them.

Eagle
A hole completed two strokes under par.

Bogey
The term used for one stroke over par.

Back nine
The last 9 holes (10-18) of an 18 hole golf course.

Fairway
The area between the tee and green.

Nineteenth hole
Our favourite hole: the bar or lounge after a round of golf.

Set up
The position that the player assumes when preparing to make a stroke.

Short game
The part of the game that consists of short range shots- e.g. putting, chipping, pitching and bunker shots. 

Tee time
The time assigned for a group to begin play on their first hole

 

For more information on World Golf Awards, please visit www.worldgolfawards.com

Big hitters

The Aloha State maybe synonymous with surfing but Hawaii is also a haven for golfers, being abundantly blessed with gorgeous golf courses. Here's a primer on where to play: you can say “Mahalo” (thank-you) later..

Olomana Golf Club (O’ahu)


Framed by the dramatic Ko’olau mountain range in the gorgeous Windward community of Waimanalo, Olomana is where Michelle Wie - one of the LPGA's most recognised stars - got her start. It’s also where POTUS (and O’ahu native), Obama, practises his swing when in town. And for good reason: this 18-hole golf course is divided into distinctly different and challenging nines. The front nine features level fairways with formidable water hazards, while the back nine’s lush rolling hills are scattered with strategically placed sand bunkers.
Green fee from US$39 (nine holes) and US$69 (18 holes); www.olomana.golf

 

Mana Laui Francis H. I‘I Brown Golf Courses (Big Island)
 

Mauna Lani Resort's two championship golf courses, the Francis H. I‘i Brown North and South, are strikingly different, yet equally challenging.
Built on a lava bed, the north course is characterised by kiawe forests and rolling fairways. The signature hole is the number 17- an Instagram-worthy par-3 tucked into a natural lava bowl. Meanwhile the south course - which snakes through stark, rugged a‘a lava - boasts two striking ocean holes. Step forward number seven, a picturesque par-3 framed by the blue Pacific Ocean, and number 15. The latter is one of the most photographed over-the-water golf holes in the world.

Green fee from US$225 (non resort guests) and US$160 (resort hotel guests); www.maunalani.com

 

Turtle Bay (O’ahu)
Oahu’s North Shore is celebrated for its spectacular surf, but two legends of golf and architecture – Arnold Palmer and George Fazio – have left their mark with this 36-hole venue.
Crafted during the 70s, the original Fazio course has holes that meander along the coastline and include breathtaking views of Hawaii's iconic North Shore. However the jewel in Turtle Bay’s crown is the Palmer course, whose setting - think dense wetlands, contoured tree-lined fairways, and a crescendo to amazing ocean views from the penultimate hole – make it a bucket-list course for any avid golfer.
Green fee from US$105 (Fazio course) and US$155 (Palmer course); www.turtlebayresort.com/Hawaii-Golf

Kapalua Golf (Maui)


Voted the best golf course in Hawaii by Golf Digest magazine, Kapalua - set amid a 22,000-acre historic pineapple plantation on the popular island of Maui - boasts two championship courses. Take a bow the Bay course - an Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane collaboration offering ocean views on 14 of the 16 holes - and the Plantation course. Framed by the West Maui mountains, the Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore designed Plantation course is home to the PGA TOUR’s season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Green fee from US$219 (Bay course) and US$299 (Palmer course); www.turtlebayresort.com/Hawaii-Golf

 

When to go
The dry season (April to October) is arguably the optimumtime to take to the greens.

Green fee
Green fees range from £54-£23.

Flight time
The Hawaiian islands are a long flight from London - you’re looking at approximately 17 hours.

Visa requirements
UK citizens must register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov) 72 hours before arrival. Registration costs US$14 and is valid for two years.

Health
At the time of writing, no specific vaccinations are required for entry to Hawaii.

Getting around
O’ahu has an excellent islandwide public transportation system called TheBus but renting a car is usually necessary on thee neighbouring islands.

Tourism board contact
www.gohawaii.com

View the article here: 

http://content.yudu.com/web/2q1af/0A372gz/ABTAGOLF17/flash/resources/220.htm

Naga Munchetty interview

BBC Breakfast presenter and avid golfer, Naga Munchetty, talks to Kaye Holland about her life on the links

When did you start playing golf and where?
My husband James and I were on holiday in South Africa six and a half years ago and seeing him playing on these beautiful courses in the sunshine, made me decide to give golf a go.

On our return to the UK, James bought me a cheap set of clubs and booked me in for a course of lessons. I had lessons once a week for 15 weeks and would practice afterwards for an hour - it took three lessons just to get to a full swing. I was very diligent and precise about it all. After 15 weeks of lessons, I went out on a 9-hole course and shot 47 and was very, very upset. I expected to par every hole and that attitude hasn’t left me! 

My husband and I then joined Nizels Golf & Country Club in Kent where we met some lovely people who taught us the etiquette and rules. They also showed us how great club golf is and how sociable it can be. We made some fabulous friends at Nizels who we still see.

Did you have any preconceptions about golf?
Yes! I thought it was posh, stuffy, sexist... I had this view of golf as an old man’s game and believed that there would be too many rules. And I hated the clothes - chinos and polo shirts. I hadn’t worn a polo shirt since school PE classes! Thankfully the clothes have got a lot better now... Basically I just had this image of golf as being removed from reality. I thought it was elitist and, while there are some clubs that are like that, most aren’t.

How did you improve your game?
Through practice, practice, practice... I still have a lesson every six weeks.

Can you recommend any academies to train at?
I think lessons are really personal. For me, it’s more about finding the right person. Having someone teach you the game you love is an intimate thing, so you have to trust your instructor.

Where have you played in the world?
Three months after first picking up a club, I played at Chateau Des Sept Tours in France - and got a hole-in-one! Not bad for a beginner... France is a favourite golf destination for me, because I love the food. After a good game of golf, you want a decent glass of wine and nosh and France is perfect for that. Aside from France, I’ve played in South Africa, New Zealand, Bermuda... Whenever I travel abroad, my clubs usually go with me.

Who do you enjoy playing with?
I like playing with my husband but the great thing about golf is that you can play with absolutely anyone. Your handicap or age doesn’t matter: there are no barriers. 

What are your five favourite courses in the world to play and why?
Castle Stewart in Scotland for the rugged landscape and amazing views. Bearwood Lakes in Berkshire because it’s very peaceful, plus you have to be quite smart to plot your way around the course. In Bermuda, Turtle Hill is fantastic. I never thought I would include a par three course in a top five but Turtle Hill is so varied. The Arabella Golf Club in South Africa also stands out - this was the first place that I played golf by the sea. And my home courses in Hertfordshire - you can’t beat what’s on your doorstep.

As a lady golfer, do you have any tips to encourage more women to play in what is seen as a male dominated sport?
Yes! Get involved. Try to join a club which has a big ladies section and don’t just stick to your own clique. Meet as many people as you can (mixed golf is fantastic for this) because this is how you’ll realise who you really enjoy playing with.

Which golfers do you admire most?
Laura Davies for her longevity and fighting spirit. She’s one of the pioneers of the modern game and sets a great example with her charity work too. And Liselotte Neumann: I was lucky enough to play with Liselotte at St Andrews. She has a real calmness about her when she plays. 
If I had to have a dream golf date, it would be [Miguel Ángel] Jiménez: someone who smokes a cigar and enjoys a glass of red wine, can’t be anything but fun.

What are your three top tips to get started as a golfer?
Have lessons as there is nothing more painful than not knowing why you aren’t hitting the ball well. 2. Play with friends and like minded people. 3. Accept that golf is a very frustrating game but there will always be one sweet shot during a round, that will keep you coming back for more.

About Naga
London- born Naga Munchetty, 39, presents BBC Breakfast and BBC World News. Naga studied English Literature & Language at Leeds University before returning to London to embark on City University’s prestigious postgraduate degree in Newspaper Journalism. Post City, Naga kick-started her career as a financial journalist on the London Evening Standard and The Observer, before moving into television. 

A self confessed “obsessive golfer,” Naga has a handicap of 9 and last year won Celebrity Mastermind, with her specialist subject The Ryder Cup 1979-Present.

 

Tee time

What is the fascination of chasing a little white ball for miles? This was the frequent question upon my lips each time my Mother set off for a game of golf. Finally, fed up with my bewildered wonderment, my Mother decided to sign me up for a lesson at her new club, unaware of what she was about to start.

From the safety of the sofa, golf was the simplest sport in the world. What could be so difficult about whacking a little ball with a great big stick? No problem, no fear. If I wanted to play golf, I would be able to play golf.

Fast forward to reality and my first ever golf lesson, a patience testing process! There was so much to take in. The posture, the stance, the swing and the problem posing task of getting the grip right. Having mastered all this, I was allowed to take a swing at the ball. This is when I caught the bug. Watching the ball fly through the air, admittedly not on the first attempt, was a positively exhilarating and uplifting experience. I was hooked, well and truly hooked.

I have since been back for more lessons and getting to grips with other shots such as chipping, putting and bunker shots. My half set of clubs consisting of a sand-wedge, putter, three, five, seven and nine iron are my prized possession - a 30th birthday present from friends who regard my new found passion with mixed feelings. Those that play golf themselves are thrilled, having decided that golf is something we can all do together. So carried away are my golf enthusiast friends that they are already talking of future holidays to golfing resorts. The golf haters, however, are less than happy, having lost another friend to the allure of the golf course.

My clubs are cleaned with loving care on a regular basis before my trips to the golf club and even the focus of my shopping sprees has now changed. No longer do I shop for going out gear. The emphasis is now firmly on golfing attire. Titeliest and Callaway have replaced Mango and Massimo Dutti as the new desirables.

My golf vocabulary is also improving as I attempt to familiarise myself with terms such as eagle, birdie, bogey and so on. I am fast developing opinions on what went wrong in my shot and those of others. I have aligned myself with certain players - step forward Sergio Garcia - too.

If you are thinking of taking up golf, then now is the time! More than three and a half million people played golf this year in the UK and a further six million want to take it up. Hundreds of young players are swinging clubs for the first time, spurred on by the hyper success of Tiger Woods who is back to winning ways once again, following his sex scandals.

It is not just ordinary folk that have taken to golf, but those above par (pardon the pun) too. It seems that any self respecting pop star, TV personality and footballer is seen sauntering across the perfectly manicured greens of a golf course sporting a pair of golf slacks and a diamond shaped jumper. The new golf worshippers include Robbie Williams, Chris Evans, George Clooney, Matthew McConnaughey, Samuel Jackson, Cindy Crawford and Vinnie Jones - all of whom have elevated the game to previously unseen heights of ‘coolness’.

If you are not already convinced to take up golf, then think on this. Learning to play golf could be one of your best career moves ever. Golf and business deals have been natural partners since the invention of the sport and the trend is still growing, witness the increase in corporate golf days. It would seem that more deals are stuck on the golf course, than at the dinner table.

Golf is a sociable game and can provide you with a completely new set of friends - golfing friends. However the real bonding experience is arguably on the 19th hole.

Yet the real beauty of golf is that it is accessible to all, whether we are fat or thin, tall or short, young or old. As Mark O’Meara once said: “The ball doesn’t know how old you are when you hit it.”