|Rob, a member of the club at Jumeirah Golf Estates, kindly contributed the following article:|
Although only open since January 2010, the Fire course – another Greg Norman creation at the Jumeirah Golf Estates – truly deserves to be featured on the Top 100 website.
In fact most friends and fellow members I speak to actually prefer the Fire course to the more acclaimed Earth course (host to the Dubai World Championships final), but in reality the two courses are actually diametrically opposed in most ways.
The Fire course is advertised as more of a links-like track – long reed grasses bordering many holes, different grasses, sand and surfaces used, more exposed to wind due to its position around the edge of the club – and this certainly rings true.
The key differences for me (and most amateur golfers) is that the course is frankly not as scary as Earth. Not to say that it’s not tough – far from it, but the new handicap course rating puts Fire at 110 (compared to Earth’s 140), meaning an 18 handicap player would typically get 25 shots depending on tees played, compared to 20 or so on Fire.
So why is this? Well, the greens on Fire are more ‘normal’ shall we say. Slower, yes, but not slow by any international standards. They are just a little more manageable. The fairways are easier to strike more consistently from in my opinion – that is to say compared to Earth there appears to be more soil/grass to allow a divot. Earth requires precise ball striking every time and any divot before the ball strike typically digs the club in and results in 50% power loss.
What I am trying to say is that Fire is more of a ‘proper’ course in my opinion. It plays like you want it to. Visually stunning for sure with fantastic elevation undulation – a real overall test in terms of depth perception and approach distance.
The back nine offers two or three great birdie opportunities. The par fives are such a joy to play, offering 350-yard drive chances if the ball catches the correct places on the down slopes. If the wind is blowing against you, the par fives can require three strong shots to reach the greens. If the wind’s with you, two shots are quite achievable and us mere mortals have the excitement of putting for eagle.
In summary, the Fire course is now regarded as one of the region’s finest. A true test of golf but also a realistic one – it goes without saying, but stick to the fairways off the tee and Fire will offer you great scoring chances. At the same time, stray from the fairways and it’ll eat you up for breakfast. Risk and reward holes abound, and the wind plus subtle elevation changes always leave the golfer having to think about the shot and club selection.
Perhaps for that reason, I consider Fire the thinking man’s course. One that you need to treat with respect, but also one that will reward good shot/course management. The overriding pleasure for me, as a regular Fire course player, is simply how at peace you feel out there. As the club is rarely busy (and with 15-minute tee intervals) you find yourself on a fantastically manicured and conditioned course without anyone else in sight – hardly ever a wait or queue.
For me, this course, along with Abu Dhabi Golf Club and perhaps the Els Club– are the finest courses in the region. The Majilis at Emirates Golf Club is decent for sure, but I also hear it’s due to close for eight months due to refurbishment. Can’t say much about the new Gary Player course on Saadiyat Island (up the road in Abu Dhabi) or the new course on Yas Island (Abu Dhabi) but I hear they will also be treats.
The only problem is you need to play with a member at Jumeirah’s courses as they are not open to the public. Not yet anyway. In my opinion they will be one day soon in order to generate sustainable revenues. If anyone wants to play it whilst in Dubai, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]
A bit of an underrated gem, which tends to live in the shadow of its sister course, Earth. Nothing should be taken away from fire though which is an excellent course in its own right. It lacks the water and arguably the breathtaking signatures holes of Earth but it's tighter and the bunkering is as difficult as anywhere in Dubai. Like all courses in the emirate, it's always in excellent condition although the greens lack the pace of some of the other courses in Dubai.
Best Hole: 12- Again, the course lacks a signature hole but 12 is probably the best example of what the course is about. A short par 4 playing just over 300 yards the entire final 100-yard stretch consists of bunkers staggered up the side of a hill in front of the green. Get your lay-up wrong and you'll be in the bottom bunker, get your approach wrong and you'll be in the top one. The green is narrow to ensure that anything long will leave you with a chip which, you guessed it, will be caught by the bunker behind if long.