The Middle East rankings place Al Mouj above all Dubai courses and only behind Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, which is some recognition. I recently visited Musket and played at Al Mouj three times using various tees and experiencing different pin positions, so I now have a decent opinion and I have to say that ranked second in the Middle East is not wrong. There is a slightly different feel to the front nine versus the back nine but (since the nines were switched) it is the back nine that is far more dramatic with some really strong holes.
The opening hole gets the course off to a very strong start; 409 yards (blue tees) a little uphill and turning subtly right – the bunker on the right of the fairway at tee shot landing point is likely catch plenty of traffic. The first par-5 comes at the 3rd and by this hole, you realise that quality bunkering is a huge feature at Al Mouj - the six protecting the approach on the 3rd are all placed perfectly. A massive lake is in play on the 4th and 5th holes; the first of these a short par-4 that has its green right on the lake edge and then the course’s first par-3, the island green 5th – no bunkers here just tee and green – wind conditions across the lake affect both holes in a big way. The front nine ends well; the par-3 8th at 169 yards is a good looking hole that just needs the front left bunker to be avoided. The 9th is Al Mouj’s toughest par-4 for me (SI-10 does not tell the full story) – the hole plays down the coastline, with the tee-shot over the bay leaving a decent distance to the green - there will only be a small % of players that hit this 449 yard hole in two shots.
Ahead of talking about my favourite holes on the inward nine – just a few words to describe everything about Al Mouj; plenty of fun, lots of strategic shots, huge undulating greens with quality run-offs that will test even the best short games.
The 10th hole shares a little bit of fairway with the 17th hole but the separation is obvious so no real problem but the second shot to the 385 yard 10th is tough – depending on tee shot length you may or may not see the water hazard short and left. Rather than this being a lake, it has a natural wetland look about it but will catch anything miss-hit and short – a great hole to play. The very next hole is the best par-3 (202 yards) – here we just have the teeing ground and a table-top green with severe run-offs and a huge sand hazard to the right, again another stroke index, 13 this time that feels too high. Holes 12 and 13 (par-5 and par-3) are towards the far end of the property and a pleasure to play, the beautiful Gulf of Oman in play on the left-side of both. Turning for home from the 14th hole brings a tough test – 4 par-4’s and a par-5 at the 16th – all cracking holes with the emphasis on strategy and positioning to score well as there are many ways to be out of position. The 18th hole is similar to the 9th in the way that the drives go across the bay, although this final hole turns left to right but again down the coastline.
I am really happy to have played here and very impressed with the setup, the quality and the scale of the great work from Greg Norman on the design. Later this week the course hosts the European Tour for the Oman Open – as usual, I look forward watching the event and comparing how the better players cope with some of these tricky holes.
Date: February 24, 2020