Your guide to: Abu Dhabi
Three world-class courses have made this another attractive golf option in the Middle East
It is hardly surprising Abu Dhabi is now a very real option for golfers seeking a holiday in warmer climes during Europe’s winter. Abu Dhabi must have looked across at its fellow Emirate, Dubai, and recognised the benefits of creating top-class courses.
There are now six courses in Abu Dhabi, with three especially outstanding layouts: Saadiyat Beach, Yas Links and Abu Dhabi GC.
The latter venue is a host of the European Tour and it was here that Tiger Woods made his early-season European Tour stop-off last year.
Abu Dhabi GC began the golf story in the Emirate and this 27-hole championship course – which can play to 7,334 yards off the very tips – weaves through undulating terrain punctuated by stands of palms, ornamental trees and shrubs.
There are also seven spectacular saltwater lakes to admire and avoid, as well as typically vast bunkers – so the relatively large greens are welcome respite!
Yas Links, as the name suggests, offers something different. It might not be a classic links in the Scottish tradition of a Moray, a Kilspindie or a Leven, but it is a pretty good modern, five-star twist on the seaside golf experience. “Yas is a very authentic links, not only because of its rumpled, sand-based fairways, but also thanks to the Paspalum grass that runs through tees, fairways and greens, and the areas around the greens, which are firm and fast – similar features to Scotland’s fescue grass links,” insists designer Kyle Phillips.
Nestled on the western shores of Yas Island – Abu Dhabi’s landmark entertainment destination – every hole here boasts fabulous views of the Arabian Gulf... with eight running right along the coastline.
The final course in the star-studded trio is Saadiyat Beach, whose name rather gives away the nature of the challenge. Set on a stretch of environmentally-protected beach on Saadiyat Island, it was laid out by Gary Player and his design team. You need to drive the ball to score well here while most of the undulating greens are extremely well protected by expansive bunkering as well as run-off areas. Don’t think this is a slog though – Saadiyat might be AD’s most fun course... if you play it from the appropriate tees (which might well be the whites at eight yards less than 6,000); only the brave take it on off the 6,733 Blues.
The other courses offer variety:
Al Ain sits in the shadow of soaring Jebel Hafeet heights and is Oasis City’s first 18-hole facility; Abu Dhabi City is known as the ‘People’s course’ and offers amazing night golf; finally, Al Ghazal offers something different – a sand course!
The climate: A genuine year-round destination, but be warned – it can be very hot from the end of April to October.
Getting there: It’s seven hours to get there. Etihad and BA go from London and the former also fly from Manchester. It’s then a short taxi ride to the resorts.
Time difference: GMT +4
A hole you would relish...
17th: par 3, 201 yards
Shaped around an inlet in the coastline, you must fire over water while avoiding dramatic blow-out dune bunkers surrounding the green. Coastal breezes make this proposition even more tricky. One of the UAE’s top holes.