The Gulf of Aqaba lies at the northern tip of the Red Sea, between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula, and the coastal city of Aqaba is Jordan’s only marine connection with the rest of the world.
Immediately to the west of this 7th-century city, a massive residential and commercial development named Ayla has been taking shape since 2008, with five distinct districts offering a variety of accommodation options, retail outlets and entertainment venues.
In addition to the yacht club and marina, the main sporting element of this extravagant waterfront project comprises a Greg Norman-designed 18-hole layout, along with a 9-hole par three executive course and golf academy.
Fashioned from material excavated to form the lagoons for the marina, the fairways are carpeted in platinum paspalum, accentuating the course’s links credentials, with large sandy waste areas bounding many of the playing corridors.
Water also forms an important part of the playing strategy as holes weave around four lakes and six ponds and golfers find themselves aquatically challenged at no fewer than half the holes on the scorecard.
The long par four 8th is a tough hole, where the prevailing wind from the left pushes mishit tee shots into wasteland on the right. The approach then plays ten yards longer than the yardage might suggest due to a raised green that’s guarded by a deep greenside bunker.
On the back nine, the hardest hole is another demanding par four, the 465-yard 18th. It’s normally played uphill and into the wind, with numerous bunkers on either side of the fairway and a wadi running along the right which then opens into the greenside lake.
In June 2018 it was announced that Ayla Golf Club will host the Jordan Mixed Masters in 2019, a new tournament where male, female and senior professionals will go head-to-head.
Ayla is a beautiful golf course. It is in impeccable condition, you would think it has never been played (which may not be far from the truth).
The fairways are generous, which is just as well because to go wide of them is a lottery. The sand / long grass banks beyond can snaffle your ball or guide it back in to play.
The greens are excellent considering how young the course is.
It measures almost 6,300 from the white tees, which is plenty for a 15 hcp like myself. The blue tees add an extra 400, and 7150 from the black will make it interesting for any golfer given the water and wind to contend with.
A great golf course in a wonderful setting, and it will only get better with age.