Nofa Golf Resort is located approximately 100 kilometres to the southwest of the capital Riyadh, just off the main Mecca highway. This oasis – set among the red sand dunes of the area – is also home to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud equestrian centre and stud farm, where a racetrack and grandstand complement a show jumping arena, polo field and extensive stabling for more than 200 horses. If horses are not your thing, there’s also a wildlife safari park where 700 African animals roam freely.
Golf began at Nofa in 2005 in the shape of a par three course, constructed for staff use. Three years later, a full-length 9-hole course was laid out within the confines of the racetrack. Landscape architect and course designer Barry Gregson then stepped in, overlaying holes 2 to 6 of the present course on the footprint of the par three course, also adding four new holes. He then remodelled the nine within the racetrack (now the back nine) to create today's 6,920-yard 18-hole course, which opened for play in 2013.
Aquatic challenges threaten at more than half the holes at Nofa. Perhaps the pick of these water holes is the short par four 5th where a lake straddles the fairway at the elbow of this dogleg left. Only big hitters will contemplate the water carry which, if successful, will leave a flick with a wedge to a wide but shallow green.
Unusually at Nofa, unlike other golf courses in Saudi and across the Middle East, there are no desert areas to worry about, as there’s an abundance of grass covering the off-course areas.
If you’re planning to visit Nofa with non-golfing family, the Safari Park and African Resort may keep them happy while you enjoy your round. You will also get to see some on-course wildlife as there’s a small safari situated just off the 9th fairway.
Nofa Golf Resort is a beautiful and well maintained course and is one that should be played by anyone interested in golf in Riyadh. With a great restaurant and a safari park it is great for a visit with the whole family.
The layout of Nofa is an interesting one, especially the back nine within the racetrack. There are some very tight holes which require a lot of thinking, and also some holes where you stand up on the tee and know you have a chance of an eagle putt as it is just about within range with a long and accurate shot.
Accuracy is key around much of the course, mostly due to the many water hazards. If you enjoy planning your way around courses then you will definitely relish Nofa.
Condition wise Nofa is very good. The bunkers can be very tough to play from due to the local red sand being used in them and sometimes can be frustrating as they are very soft. The greens have improved immensely in the last few years and the fairways are very consistent.
Nofa Golf Resort is a course you should make sure and visit if in Riyadh.
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