The Dubai Hills Estate is set within the Mohammad Bin Rashid City quarter of Dubai and it’s a development from the Emaar property company, which includes the Burj Khalifa building in its portfolio, along with another couple of golf courses at Arabian Ranches and Address Montgomerie.
It’s a 2018 European Golf Design production, with Gary Johnston the lead architect, and the course is set out as two returning nines – the outward half in an anti-clockwise fashion then the inward half in a clockwise manner – with fairways continually changing direction to create a “big reveal” from one hole to the next.
The site was formerly a camel stable on a largely flat property but, with much of the course laid out at a lower grade because fill was required for the residential areas, it means that quite a few of the holes are played in isolation within little valleys, below the level of the surrounding houses.
“The front nine has some dramatic elevation changes with wadi-style features,” says Gary Johnston. “The holes leading back to the clubhouse (8, 9, 16, 17 and 18) are built around a series of lakes, which double as irrigation storage, and are lusher in their planting style, and the back nine is more desert-like in the shaping and planting.”
Highlight holes include the short par four 6th (which measures 330 yards from the back tees but offers a helping slope on the right of the fairway), the par three 13th (with a lone Ghaf tree guarding the left side of the green), and another short par four at the 16th, which incorporates a split fairway and water down the right side of the hole.
A work trip to Dubai afforded me the opportunity to dovetail the visit with a couple more desert courses.
Dubai Hills is another product of the European Golf Design team and one of the most recent additions to the Dubai golfing scene. Built in 2018, on the site of an old Camel Stable, the course incorporates lakes, wadi’s, large bunkering, waste areas and small valleys within it’s layout. Despite being built on relatively flat land, the course gently rolls and on a couple of holes (2nd, 4th, 6th) shows surprising changes of elevation.
The fairways are generous throughout, meaning you are unlikely to be reaching for a provisional and if played strategically, rather than trying to overpower the course it’s very scoreable. The course’s main defence is it’s large bunkers and tricky undulating greens that come with plenty of run-offs. This is a second shot course. Find the right part of the green and you will score well.
The main highlight of Dubai Hills is it’s backdrop. Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa frame many of the holes and makes for some wonderful camera shots, but this spectacular backdrop is needed because it draws the eye away from the fact you are playing most of the course on a building site. The surrounding properties are far from finished and scaffolding accommodates plenty of holes. In fact when the wind is up, it can kick up a lot of dust and sand which makes for a rustic and wild appearance to the course. This is complimented further by the Springboks that make the back 9 their home.
Highlight holes for me were the short Par 4 6th, playing into a valley with well placed bunkers giving you options from the tee to play conservatively or not. The pretty Par 5 8th with water running the length of the hole down the right side and finally the Par 4 16th with a copse of palm trees splitting the fairway and pushing those who choose to layup, towards a lake.
This is a course that offers something different to the pristine courses you find in Dubai and will benefit from the surrounding areas being completed. It’s current ranking of 3rd in the UAE seems high for my tastes but I’m keen to see how the course develops over time.
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A good course, albeit a little easy even from the tournament tees. Excellent condition, great clubhouse and obviously a new addition to the city but no doubt commendable. There’s a few others on my list that rank higher but it is without question a course that would be enjoyed played weekly. Whilst it doesn’t play the longest the pin positions make for some challenging putts. Practice facilities are rather good pre-round which cannot be said for some of the courses in the region. Simply - worth playing and not excessively busy which is hugely appealing.
I came to Dubai for a wedding and somehow got 4 rounds of golf in at various courses. This was my favourite. A combination of a great layout, fantastic course condition and spectacular views just made for a really special day out on this course.
I started on the 10th and was immediately greeted by a view of an immaculate course with Dubai's skyline forming the backdrop. As a single ball joining others I was fortunate to be playing with someone who knew the course well which definitely made the day more enjoyable for me. This was my last round of the trip and the greens here were easily the best. This surprised me a bit as the other courses were all European Tour venues. I don't know what speed they were but extremely quick and also very true. Highly receptive of iron and wedge spin which made for some fun shots watching the ball dance on the green.
As the round went on it was clear that the course had been designed in such a way to continuously provide stunning views of Dubai. This made the round even better for me, the Earth course is fantastic but you don't get these sort of views which make you constantly pull your phone out for a pic.
There were many memorable holes, too many to list but I would say that all of the par 3s were quite fun to play. Holes that stuck in my mind were the Par 5 8th and 15th which I birdied both and my best shot of the day came on the 7th, an elusive perfectly struck 6 iron to a tightly hidden pin behind the towering bunker on the left. Obviously I missed the putt but that iron shot remains with me.
All in all it was a genuinely memorable experience, if I was to play in Dubai again I would definitely put this one on this list.
Dubai Hills is always in very good condition when you play. The course is fairly friendly off the tee with generous fairways. The trouble is generally around the fast greens where you have run offs at the back.
Compared to other courses in Dubai it does not require the same length off the tee and makes for enjoyable play for all level of golfers.
The views are spectacular to the skyline of Dubai. My favorite holes are 6,8, 9, 17 and 18. Two of them are tricky par 3 over water which can ruin your scorecard.
There is still a lot of construction going on so in windy conditions it can be a bit unpleasant with sand in the air.
Clubhouse is very nice but often filled wth non golfers so you do not find a table for a drink after the round.
The driving range is good however designed too short so you may not use woods.... you need to go in a cage to warm up the driver. Not good for a course opened in the past few years.