The Emirates Golf Club is the inspiration of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his Royal Pavilion – styled in the fashion of a Bedouin tent – nestles behind the 8th green. The Majlis course opened for play in 1988 and it was the first 18-hole grass golf course to open in the Middle East. The layout follows a blueprint by Karl Litten and it’s literally carved through the desert. Narrow green ribbons of fairway wind their way through natural slightly undulating terrain. Expect to play a few sand shots at The Emirates Club.
Without doubt, the Majlis course is one of the finest layouts in the United Arab Emirates and it’s the well-known venue of the Dubai Desert Classic tournament, which always attracts the world’s best players. The Majlis course now stretches out to some 7,301 yards from the tips with par set at 72. Tall desert dunes frame the perimeter of the course and numerous salt and freshwater lakes come into play on several holes.
Large, fast greens are a hallmark of the Emirates Club and these slick putting surfaces can cause great problems for club golfers, especially if the Course Manager is feeling mean with his pin placements.
A cluster of memorable holes will stick in the mind, especially the par three 7th which must carry the full length of a lake and, as with all great courses, the Majlis has a wonderful closing hole which requires an approach shot across yet another lake to a long and thin double green which is fashioned in the shape of a bow tie. The hopes of a number of potential Desert Classic winners – including Ian Woosnam and Tiger Woods – have been dashed at this wicked par five closing hole.
The clubhouse is also well known and is one of Dubai’s amazing landmarks. In a similar vein to the Royal Pavilion, the clubhouse represents a cluster of Bedouin tents. It goes without saying that inside it’s a sumptuous experience.
There is no other way to describe this course as than Incredible. Simply the best condition I have seen (and will most likely see) a golf course in. We were lucky enough to play the week after the pros had been on for the Dubai Desert Classic. I had been there earlier in the week to play the Faldo under the floodlights and I had been looking forward to this all week.
We played with a member who had retired at 40 and lives the life with houses in Dubai, Portugal and close to Royal Birkdale back home! A very nice guy and a great guide.
From arriving, as with most courses abroad, bags disappeared instantly from the valet's and we were set to explore the magnificent venue. The locker room was a very unique shape and nice to see the lockers the previous winners of the annual event held there as well as a club from each winners bag. Upon arrival we were also given as many tee's as we wanted, and a lovely ceramic bag tag which is still standing proud on my bag!
The practice range and balls are incredible, I love a grass range and I spent a few other evenings down there in the evening under the lights hitting balls. I couldn't get enough (My wallet could though!)
A three putt on the first and a perfectly hit bunker shot landing 2 foot from the lip still ending up in the water a good 50 feet away (greens that quick) wasn't the best of starts. I also didn't get the memo that the 18th and 9th green were shared, so when my partner told me the pin was 156, I conveniently didn't see the 9th pin and aimed straight at the 18th pin, which was a few more yards away (splash, double!)
The back 9 was a lot better for me, birdie on the 215 yard par 3 and a birdie down the last off the pro tees I was over the moon with. All the sponsor hoardings and stands did make the experience even more phenomenal, walking through the media tent on the way from the 18th.
The layout is incredible, the views are even better, you quite simply have to play here if you can. The 8th is the money shot, off the tee you have the perfect chance for a photo with all of the towers behind you, well most holes have that too! The layout I could argue that Dubai Creek was on par with, but the overall experience and condition of the course is on a different level. The only negative, £250 a round, £10 a pint and £15,000 pa membership! Maybe in another life!
Played: January 2018
Walk between tees/ Course Congestion: 9/10
OVERALL SCORE : 47/50
The early days of golfing in the vast desert of Dubai involves the creation of the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club in 1998. Over the years, numerous iconic images from this course have become known around the world including the Bedouin tents for the clubhouse and of course the jaw-dropping skyline of Dubai that grabs your attention from many optimal vantage points. Over the past 20 years, Dubai has exploded with luxurious and state-of-the-art construction. Skyscrapers firms competing left, right and centre with each other for the tallest or most attractive tower in town.
As expected, the golf course is flat which wasn’t a surprise and with the annual visit from the European Tour, many more bunkers have been added to block access to greens or catch stray tee shots. While walking the golf course, I frequently found myself being more impressed with the architecture off the golf course than on the golf course.
Certain tee shots didn’t fit my eye, due to either awkward clusters of trees in the line of sight (e.g. the 5th hole) or doglegs with too severe angles. After 30 years of golf course construction in Dubai, the Majlis course is still regarded as the “best” which I take with a grain of salt, and it puts the quality of the other courses into perspective over 3 decades. The extreme heat also puts far too much strain on the grass which leads to excessive amount of maintenance.
Big name architects have generally not gravitated towards this region of the world to build golf courses because the land just isn’t interesting, or too challenging. The exception to this statement is Gil Hanse being hired to build 'Trump Dubai', but despite this contract, the reports on the course weren’t too encouraging either. After seeing the Maglis course and Abu Dhabi National, it made me appreciate Kyle Philips work down at Yas Links even more.
Played the Majlis course in January 2001, just ahead of the Desert Classic which I watched with interest as Thomas Bjorn went on to win. Naturally I went for it on the 18th and dumped my approach shot into the lake! Make no mistake, this is a good course and a most impressive club. I played Dubai Creek which is also a decent track. We stayed at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort which has a cracking little 9-hole course attached… well worth playing too.
My overriding memory of the Majlis, apart from the heat, the sand and the flatness, was the size of the greens, they are huge. I found myself miles away from the pins on numerous occasions and managed more three putts than I care to remember. The 5th is a solid par four which asks serious questions with the approach across a lake and the 7th is a super par three. If you visit Dubai, I’d recommend both the Majlis and the Wadi (now called the Faldo course). I'm sure better golfing options will appear in the UAE over time to eclipse the Majlis, but it's well worth playing if only to follow in the footsteps of the pros.