Home to the Dubai Desert Classic, the Emirates Golf Club would be far from my favorite type of course as a self-proclaimed purist. However, one thing they most certainly had to work with was sandy soil. This club is truly the closest I have ever come to the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz and I’m now 99.9% certain that the surrounding city skyline was carefully planned after this wild idea. It’s amazing what can happen in the course of 20 years. If you see old photos there were no buildings in the backdrop at all when this course was built. Now it’s clear the Wizard has been busy. Please see my photo here to understand what I mean.
As for the course, it’s actually quite fun and has some decent holes, to be fair all of which are challenging and can be played back to near ridiculous lengths due to the tour event. I would say there are far more hard doglegs here both to the left and right than most courses you will run into. I guess that just goes to prove that this course was built to host big events and challenge the world’s best. Now that’s not always a good thing but it is one of the cases where a large part of the draw to this
course is so you can play what you see on TV. Now that’s always fun but I wouldn’t want to make a hobby of it.
On my day there I was playing with a few friends and clearly over powered and out classed. These guys made the course look pretty easy. To be fair one was playing to a +6 hcp which makes my (- 5) hcp a bit humorous. Though we are talking 11 shots minimum differential. The course is a fun challenge for him but with the lack of tournament conditions and pressure he swept up with a rather mundane 65. Nothing fancy there but it seems there are several birdie holes I didn’t translate as such. He just hit it over all the doglegs as did our other + hcp playing partners. The strategy at Emirates is much different if your average drive carries 280 yards. Then indeed there are quite a few birdie holes.
The greens were fairly undulating, smallish, fast and bumpy. The course obviously gets a lot of play and ups its maintenance game around the big event. Much of the rest of the year they are treading a careful balance between not killing off the grass in the high temperatures and keeping a moderate level of maintenance. The grasses seem quite similar to what you might find in Florida and the strain of Bermuda they are using is very sticky and tough to play out of around the greens. A 60-degree wedge is a staple when missing greens.
All in all, the course delivers an interesting day and a surreal experience in what I can only literally refer to as a cartoon-like setting. A great experience but I certainly wouldn’t ask for it by name though I’d love to have another round soon with my buddies who are playing there. However, maybe I’d do better to just caddy for them and see how the 0.01% handle such a place.
Date: March 07, 2019