P.O. Box 79126,
- +971 4601 0101
1 mile S of Dubai International Airport
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Robert Trent Jones II
The Al Badia 18-hole championship golf course opened in 2005, and sits within the city’s most iconic mixed-use project, Dubai Festival City. Managed and operated by InterContinental Dubai Festival City, the course offers golfers an enchanting desert oasis experience, right on the edge of the historic Dubai Creek.
No expense was spared creating this layout and its lush fairways are kept in pristine condition via a number of large, interconnected lakes that supply salt-tolerant paspalum grasses with a blend of sea water and treated waste for irrigation.
Twelve of the holes on the course contain water hazards in the shape of ponds, streams or waterfalls and architect Robert Trent Jones is rather pleased with this proliferation of aquatic features, commenting that “the presence and movement of water is one of the encompassing statements of the entire project. Water is seen, heard, and felt almost everywhere on and off the course.”
The other main design trait at Al Badia is the RTJ “rivers of sand” concept – sandy waste areas to the ordinary golfer – and these natural hazards, along with the large extents of water that come in play, give golfers plenty to think about on the way round here.
A visually stunning clubhouse is sited in the middle of the Al Badia course – with both the front and back nine holes returning to it – and its inspirational design delightfully captures the swirl of a golfing swing.
The Al Badia Golf Club is also home to the only TaylorMade MATT golf swing analysis centre in the Gulf region, here they can diagnose your faults, hone your swing or fit you for custom clubs which can delivered internationally to your home.
Formerly known as "The Four Seasons Dubai" until mid 2009, the Al Badia Golf Club was run by the InterContinental Hotel Group but in February 2017 the course closed. The club offered no explanation as to why, but reports suggest the decision to close is a personal one by the owning Al Futtaim family.
If there was an award for Top 100 Club Houses this one would certainly get my vote! (narrowly followed by Moyvalley in Ireland). Not to detract from the golf course, but this is a beautiful new glass and steel structure that has been designed by an architect who's been given a free reign and big budget. The changing facilities are sumptuous having a steam room, jacuzzi and a lounge.
Variety was the word that summed up this course for me, Robert Trent Jones II has managed to include a bit of everything here without make it feel contrived or bitty. It certainly has a deserty feel in places, but has enough trees, water, mounding and other stuff going on so you're not thinking about sand all the time. But the palms and frequent water do convey the intended on going theme of oasis. The area isn't too built up (for Dubai), and there are some large fenced off plots that may eventually be sold for house or hotels, but currently they're vacant giving a spacious and less enclosed feeling than you might expect so close to the airport and city.
I particularly enjoyed the 9th a very fair par four going back to the clubhouse with cascading waterfalls on the right of the approach and the green. Very picturesque with the sound of running water, parring it didn't diminish my enjoyment of it at all! The 18th on the other hand was a completely different cup of tea, but I was able to appreciate it through gritted teeth as my ball splashed into the lake. A classic risk/reward hole with a minimum 100 yard carry over the lake, or you can cut the corner to almost any length and risk getting wet and improve (or wreck) your card - naturally I bit off more than I could chew - and it dented my score. Although exhausted by the heat (40+ degrees in August) the variation there made me want to go round again the next day, this is not a course you'd get bored of quickly.
Now that the Intercontinental has taken over the management of the course I think I'm right in saying it's the only true 'stay and play' golf resort in the region, with hotel and course run by the same people next door to each other, so I might stay locally if they have some good packages available then. It's also better placed for the other inland golf courses than many of the big beach hotels, Dubai Creek is nearby, and Arabian Ranches & The Els Club are just straight down the Emirates Road. I made the mistake of staying 20km away at one of the beach hotels to placate my family on this trip which meant lots more mucking about with taxis. It may not yet be one of the big name courses that people often come out here to play, but it's good golf at reasonable money and a very enjoyable day out. Next time I come back, Al Badia is definitely on my list of courses to revisit.