Flow is the key word here, one hole links you seamlessly to the next, and although there are no huge changes of elevation and greatly elevated tee boxes, you still get a feeling of continuity, but don't mistake that for sameness. I played in a buggy in 40 degrees in August, but I would like to walk it in more temperate weather, as the green to next tees distances are very manageable and the local tall grasses give a very linksy feel with fairways that run a fair distance, especially in dry weather. In keeping with the links principle there are no water hazards on the course - instead there's extensive use of cleverly designed sandy indentations planted with abundant local flora which intrude into the grass fairways to both shape the course and to help defend the greens - I found myself in the sandy rough areas on more than one occasion. There are quite a few mature trees which is unusual - due to the twin problems of camels and lack of water - and they gave a bit more structure to the aesthetics of the course, which is laid out in 2 loops of nine coming back to the clubhouse.
I played it whilst they are midway through a project to remove some of the taller bushes from the edge of the fairway and widen the fairway in places to ensure the course wasn't overly punishing to wayward shots. So now whilst low handicappers can do well, it's more playable for mid. handicappers. I particularly enjoyed the 3rd a long par 5 with a green nestling in a huge sand dune flanked by trees, and I was content to bogey the 5th, a long par 4 (SI-1) after a bit of bother with the rather undulating green.
The course gets more traffic and thus a bit more wear and tear than some of the bigger name courses with much smaller membership, but you have to balance that against the fact that's it's open all year round and they don't close to overseed. It's predominantly a members club with over 400 members mostly from within the Arabian Ranches development. On a Thursday evening when I was there, the place was full with members and their families dining out and it felt like a community ambience and a place you'd like to be a member of. Arabian Ranches may not top of everyone's list of courses to visit in Dubai, where people often come to play the 'big names', but it I definitely think it's worth a visit and I feel I could go back there and I'd know I'll get a warm welcome.
Date: August 15, 2009