This is a very strong golf course and already looks incredible. Sure, some of the waste areas will need to be cleaned up a bit to get the final look, but the tee boxes, fairways and greens are all top notch already.
This course reminds me of Yas Links - Trump is perhaps the stronger course but the scenery is not quite as stunning with houses and apartment buildings besides the fairways. I also think it's the harder course but both now rank towards the top in the UAE for me and I would want to play them every time I come back.
The fairways are wide, really wide, but once your ball leaves them get ready for a difficult recovery shot. The bushes (gorse? fescue?) lining the fairways and some of the bunkers are able to swallow a ball or two. If you're in the desert it's not that hard to play out of the waste areas, but better keep it in the fairways. These have a surprising amount of roll in them so don't be surprised and pick your club wisely. You can even run up the balls to the green or use the Texas wedge from way off the green.
The green complexes are mostly large but often feature undulations that make the ball run towards the pin, not like at Els which has mostly upturned saucers. I find that more player friendly, especially as I can't generate enough stopping power on the pitches and chips. The greens tend to the large side, so there will be plenty of pin positions and long putts. They were running at just over 10 on the stimpmeter and in immaculate condition. I guess they use the same grass throughout so fairways and greens somewhat blend into each other which makes for a great look.
I enjoyed the front 9 slightly more but have to mention the short par 4 12th hole, which played 243 yards when we played just last week. You can try to drive the green or play it with a putter (yes!) from the tee. Up to you. It's really nice to see such a hole on this course. The 18th is not for the faint hearted with water all down the left-hand side.
I find the par 3s too long, most around 190-200y, from the gold tees but this might just be a matter of personal distaste.
Overall, there are some really memorable holes and views that have been expertly shaped by Gil Hanse and his crew. There is not much to dislike (nothing actually) and I'm sure you'll have an enjoyable time. Adding this course to the Dubai golfing scene only makes a trip more worthwhile and you should play this when in the city. There can be some green fees around the 500 AED mark but I think the normal rate is closer to 700. I would play this course for that money, but not more.
Overall, it's a very strong offering (great range too btw) and a course that is a joy to play. We played as a 2-ball with a buggy and finished just around 4 hours. Of course it's a faux links, but we are in the desert here. It's a fun experience and you should go and check it out!
Date: November 19, 2019