Dubai Golf Courses - A Review
This article is written purely from a personal point of view. Having lived in Dubai for over 5 years I have played all but one of the courses there as well as having marshalled at the Dubai Desert Classic, the Dubai Ladies Masters and the Dubai World Championships, and so will let you know my personal opinion on them. The golf courses in Dubai, from my experience, are of a very high standard compared to other parts of the world and the facilities can often be second to none with green fees to match. However, in recent years times have been a bit harder and the golf clubs are doing more to get players through the doors and onto the fairways and in summer in particular there are special offers on green fees to make playing golf in Dubai more accessible.
In particular you can get cheaper green fees if you play at off-peak times as well as during the summer. Even though it can reach 40+ degrees in summer, if you start early and drink plenty of water (which is provided free at most courses) then you should be OK. One course (The Montgomery) even adds mini air-conditioners to the golf carts!
Access to Dubai's Golf Courses
These days anyone with a handicap certificate can play any of Dubai's golf courses. A few years ago a lot of them were member only golf courses but this has changed since times have become a bit harder. With some you still need to book well in advance if you want a weekend tee time but if you play during the week you shouldn't have so much trouble getting a tee time.
If you can play with a member then obviously you will get a better green fee rate but obviously that is not possible if you are visiting Dubai and want to play golf.
Emirates Golf Club
Emirates Golf Club has 2 courses (and a par 3) - the Majlis Course and the Faldo Course (formerly known as the Wadi). The Majlis course is the setting for the annual Dubai Desert Classic event which welcomes large numbers of spectators in Jan/Feb each year. The course itself is well-suited to this event and around that time the rough is allowed to grow quite long to make the course even harder.
Having played the Majlis course a number of times you kind of grow attached to it, particularly when you have been there to watch the great players in the competition. There are some massively long par 5s which will test your driving skills and some tricky par 3s. The course is pretty mature and has some lovely bird life. If you do get a chance to play this course then I would really recommend that you do so.
The Faldo course is really classed as the 2nd course but I still enjoy playing it. It is cheaper to play than the Majlis and it is floodlit so that you are able to play until late in the evening, making it accessible if you are working during the day. Be careful of the wadis (dried up river beds that gave it it's former name) down the sides of the fairways as these can be tricky to get out of if you don't hit a straight drive.
The par 3 course that is used for the Dubai Desert Classic challenge match is probably the best par 3 in Dubai. It has some much longer holes so that you can stretch to something longer than a pitching wedge and also has a lot of sand between the tee and the green to force you not to mess up your shots!
The Address Montgomerie
The Montgomerie I feel is a slightly more forgiving course than some of the other Dubai golf courses. It has wide fairways but also some challenging holes and a lot of water to contend with! Like a few of the courses in Dubai there is a par 3 onto an island that you will need to hit an accurate shot in order to avoid getting wet.
The Montgomerie is a bit more affordable than some of the golf courses in Dubai but still offers a reasonable level of difficulty.
Tuesday mornings at the Montgomerie host a ladies friendly competition every week with a reduced green fee for handicap lady golfers and the opportunity to play and mix with local lady golfers.
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
This has long been a favourite with many Dubai locals particularly for it's last 3 holes which run along the creek itself. The fairways here are narrow and if you hit a slightly wayward shot you could find yourself in trouble! For one tee shot you have to hit from a pontoon in the creek itself onto the fairway which adds a bit of spice to the occasion.
The Creek also has a short par 3 course but this is really a pitch and putt so don't expect it to take more that about 30-40 minutes to get round.
Another course that is really worth playing but again it tops the list on green fees.
Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa
This is a lovely course but is in fact only a 9 hole course that you play twice. It is significantly less expensive that some of the other golf courses in Dubai but is still a joy to play. It's a bit of a way out of town to reach so better if you are at the 'New Dubai' end of town but if you have the chance then you can also get a beach pass and relax by the pool or the beach after your round.
Plenty of challenges and some narrow fairways plus a lot of planting have given this course some character.
Jumeirah Golf Estates
When the idea of Jumeirah Golf Estates was first mooted, there were going to be 4 courses on the estate, each designed by a notable golfer. However, when the global recession hit, 2 of the courses were put on hold and only the Fire and the Earth courses were completed.
In 2009 the Earth course was first used in anger for the Dubai World Championship, which was the final event in the race to Dubai. The final touches were still being added to the course virtually until the first ball was hit and many of the villas and areas surrounding the course were also put on hold as money was running out.
Initially it was a private members club but has opened it's doors to non-members to play. Personally I have played this course after the Race to Dubai events and found it to be very challenging with lush fairways and deep and steep bunkers with sparkling white sand (make sure you have your sunglasses!). So if you want to play in the footsteps of the great golfers I can definitely recommend this course if your purse allows it! The 17th hole is a great island par 3 with a pair of swans who seem to have made it their home. The 600 yard+ par 5 18th always throws up some challenges to the players in the big competitions and you need to avoid the creek running the length of the fairway to make a good score.
The clubhouse is still a temporary construction but the go-ahead has been given to build the real deal in the next few years.
Al Badia Golf Club
This is one of the newer golf clubs in Dubai, located near the Festival City shopping centre. This course offers plenty of challenges to the amateur golfer with some nice landscaping and birdlife. As with a lot of golf courses in Dubai the fairways can be forgiving at times which they need to be as the rest of the course has water hazards and sand traps to keep it interesting!
The clubhouse and changing rooms are second to none with top quality facilities and a great value driving range too.
The Els Club Dubai
As the name suggests, this course was designed by Ernie Els and is located in the relatively new area of Dubai Sports City. It is not the easiest of places to reach but is a very popular course to play.
Another club with a temporary clubhouse (which at the time of writing is really not up to the standards of other clubhouses, particularly the changing areas) but when the permanent clubhouse opens the facilities should be second to none.
The course itself is another great one to play but in my opinion lacks a bit of character, probably due to the early stages of the planting, which makes the course feel like it is just made up of grass and bunkers. This will no doubt improve as the course matures but it is still a relatively young course. Others I have spoken to say it is their favourite course in Dubai and it was awarded 'Best New International Course' in 2008 by Links Magazine.
The Els Club Dubai has an online booking system where they promise to get you the best rates.
Arabian Ranches Golf Club
I have to say that this is my least favourite golf club in Dubai. It is quite a sandy course and overall I feel the quality of the landscaping is not as good as other golf courses in Dubai. I was at the driving range a short while back and the ground was really uneven and very rough and sandy so that there wasn't really a flat place to stand to hit your balls from.
OK so the prices are not as high as some of the better courses and they do have some special offers on during the week but at a push I wouldn't choose to play here. There is a par3 and an 18 hole course as well as the driving range and I know people who are members so I guess it is just my opinion about it.
Overall most of the golf clubs in Dubai are of a high standard. If you are a resident then join the Emirates Golf Federation to get reduced green fees on all courses and if you are a visitor then I recommend you get hold of 'The Entertainer' discount voucher book as this contains some 2 for 1 vouchers on playing some of the courses.