Golf courses in Saudi Arabia have come a long way since Aramco expats built the first 9-hole desert layout near Dhahran back in the late 1940s – complete with putting surfaces, or “browns” as they’re called, made from a mixture of oil and sand.
A number of other sand courses were constructed over the years, mainly around Jeddah and Riyadh, before the initial 9-hole grass layouts appeared during the 1990s. The first, and still the best of these, is the Dirab course, expanded to 18 holes in 1998.
Situated 50 kilometres south west of Riyadh in the Dirab Valley, beneath the Tuwaiq escarpment, Dirab is one of only a handful of grassed championship courses in the Kingdom, with an extensive driving range and practice facilities – indeed, nine holes can be floodlit here to extend play after sundown!
What was once the best 18 hole grass course in the country has sadly turned into the worst. Dirab has suffered majorly from a severe lack of maintenance in the last few years and is slowly turning into a desert course. Which is a pity as the layout is excellent.
Having a lot of mature trees it is a course that makes you feel like you are back in Europe playing. Going into the trees is punishing and you will deservedly lose a shot as the only way out is to hack out. The fairways are tight and you need to be straight and accurate to get a good score on the course.
Some of the holes can be made shorter with some brave shots, but in general you will find the safe option is the best option. The par 5 13th hole has a huge green and depending on where the pin is it could mean the difference between 4 clubs!
If the maintenance on Dirab was resolved this could once again become a great course, until it does I’m afraid it stays well below the other courses in the country.
Click the link to read more about Dirab Golf Course at MJ-GolfGuides