Yas Links - United Arab Emirates

Yas Links Abu Dhabi,
PO Box 128008,
Yas Island,
United Arab Emirates


  • +971 2 885 3555

Yas Island – the location of a multi-billion dollar project by Aldar, Abu Dhabi’s foremost property, investment and management company – occupies an area of around 6,000 acres in the Arabian Gulf and it’s the site of a number of world class attractions that include a Formula 1 Grand Prix racing track, the Ferrari World theme park and, of course, the Yas Links golf course, which opened in 2010.

The golf facility extends to an 18-hole layout, a 9-hole academy course and floodlit practice area. It’s the first project that architect Kyle Phillips has worked on in the Middle East and he was involved right from the outset when it was decided to shape nearly two miles of coastline (during the construction phase of an access route to the marina) and use almost 2 million cubic metres of dredged sand to cap the golf course.

Extending to 7,450 yards with five tee positions at every hole, Yas Links was over three years in construction and it lies across the highway from the Yas Marina car racing circuit with eight of the holes – including three of the four short holes on the card at 8, 13 and 17 – located right against the coastline.

Many think the “Cape” hole at the 9th is the best of the par fours because the tee shot has to carry water on the right and the more length that’s gained from the tee, the shorter the approach is to a green that falls away at the back.

The 18th is a fine finishing hole where the shoreline snakes along the left hand side of the fairway, threatening shots all the way from tee to green. The safest option is to play away from the water, avoiding first a central fairway bunker off the tee then a long waste bunker down the left side of the narrow green.

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Reviews for Yas Links

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Description: Extending to 7,450 yards, Yas Links was over three years in construction and it lies across the highway from the Yas Marina car racing circuit with eight of the holes located right against the coastline. Rating: 8.7 out of 10 Reviews: 20
TaylorMade
Claudio

Quite a spectacular course, with 7 holes along the coast. Kind of the Pebble Beach of the Middle East. Did not give an higher rating just because the surroundings are not the same as in California or in Scotland. First nine holes are a little weaker than the second nine but once you get on the 8th tee the fun start. In addition to the 8th and 9th, there are 12th and 13th practically "in the water" and the final 3 holes are a great finish as the water comes into play in all three. We played with a very strong wind and even though the score was not great we had a lot of fun. If I can give you an advise do not play Yas Links at the beginning of your tour in the Emirates as all the other course will seem just ok...

March 16, 2022
9 / 10
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Mike Brooks

I have played Yas Links 7 or 8 times, with the last time 2 years ago to the day. Watching the top pros playing it has brought back some great memories and prompted me to write this review.

Put simply it is one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever played and if you offered me the chance to tee it up on Monday on any course I’ve played before then it would be Yas Links. This doubtless in part reflects the fact that I have always played in beautiful weather in January. It also reflects my bias for courses that are enjoyable and fun, rather than excessively challenging.

What Kyle Phillips has created at Yas is a masterpiece. Whilst it is too green and soft to be considered a “true links” by purists (no brown, hard, fast fairways here) the inclusion of dunes and fescue grass, it’s proximity to the Arabian Sea and the scope to be exposed to strong winds all give it some links characteristics. There are many similarities to Phillips’ creation at Kingsbarns albeit he managed to get 7 holes along the sea here versus just a couple at Kingsbarns. This makes for a number of memorable holes.

The fairways are relatively generous albeit there are often strategically placed fairway bunkers to try and avoid. I really like this style of design as it means less time looking for, and potentially losing, balls but there still being a penalty if you don’t avoid the hazard. It also means you have the joy of hitting driver on most holes. The greens tend to be large and undulating as befits a “second shot course”. Conditioning has always been good when I’ve played it.

There is an unusual soundtrack to the course. This typically includes gleeful shrieks from the rollercoasters at Ferrari World (which includes the fastest rollercoaster in the world - an experience I’d recommend but not for the faint-hearted!) and the sound of cars from the neighbouring Formula 1 track. This might not be to everyone’s taste but it is never imposing and I quite like the sound of others having fun. The sight of the rollercoasters, the Ferrari sign and the water park also adds to the feeling of fun although may not be to the purists’ tastes.

The first 7 holes are good but without being spectacular. It is after that, with 7 of the final 11 holes along the edge of the sea, that the course is particularly special. 8 and 13 are lovely par 3s with the sea down the right and looming large in the mind. The final 3 holes are a fantastic finish. 16 is a demanding par 4 with risk on both sides of what is often a long approach. 17 is a tremendous par 3 over water, playing around 200 yards. Finally the 18th doesn’t disappoint as a climax. Horseshoeing around the sea it places demands on every shot. It’s great to see a par 5 that actually plays like a par 5 for the pros, which means it’s more like a par 6 for us mere mortals! It is similar to the much-heralded 12th at Kingsbarns but longer, tighter and more dramatic.

There are several modern links style courses that I really love including Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart and Dumbarnie. Yas Links is similar in style and quality to these courses and in my view just edges the others overall given the number of memorable holes and the strength of the finish. If you’re in Abu Dhabi then play it. If you’re not in Abu Dhabi then book your plane ticket soon!

January 21, 2022
10 / 10
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Tim Elliott

Kyle Phillips has designed a number of superb golf courses in recent times and Yas Links is surely one of his very best. The likely grand budget from investors in Abu Dhabi included the possibility of reshaping the coastline in accordance with his required golf holes, rather than as would normally apply, planning golf holes within the defined landscape. The result is, in my view, a World Top 100 Golf Course, such is the majesty and challenge of these ‘desert links’.

I have read other reports on this site, and it would appear that conditioning has not always been perfect over the course’s 11 year life to date. I played it two times in the last few days and found the conditions of the playing area to be of the highest order, even if the surrounds are in places a little untidy. The greens are simply magnificent and the fairways well grassed, receptive and encouragingly good to play shots from.

The first 7 holes are mainly inland, varied and tough, particularly when the wind blows, but it is from hole 8 onwards that the course becomes a wonderful roller-coaster of challenges, inspired perhaps by the adjoining Ferrari race track. 8 is a mid-length par three with huge mounds to the left and the Persian Gulf to the right, while 9 is a demanding par four named ‘Cape’ and arguably the best designed golf hole of all 18. But these are just the introduction to a stellar back nine.

The long par fours at 12 and 15 play to the same massive shared green while 13 is a knee-trembler of a short par three. It may be Stroke Index 18 but with sea to the right, a tiny outcrop of a green to aim for (although it is actually much larger than it looks), a prevailing wind from the sea and deep bunkers along the left side of the green, the tee shot is daunting indeed. The ideal shot is to aim for where sea meets land to allow for the ball to drift back on the breeze onto the flag stick, for any shot hit straight at the pin ends in sand. And then comes 14, a delightful short par four, with a narrow approach between deep bunkers, a topsy-turvy green with a steep mound to the left and water to the right. Your adrenalin should be pumping by now!

But this is only preparation for holes 16, 17 and 18 with pars of 4, 3 and 5 that are probably the toughest finish I have played on a golf course anywhere. All 3 holes are pure exhilaration and made much more difficult in wind. The approach shot at 16 is played from a wafer-thin narrow fairway with danger lurking on both sides, and the daunting 180 yard tee shot across the bay at 17 is to a well-protected green. Meanwhile the 18th seems a never-ending monster of a hole as it weaves this way and that, and eventually arrives at the distant green where on our second round the hole was set on a pinnacle right next to two gaping bunkers. This triumvirate of holes makes up as thrilling a finish as I have ever played on a golf course.

The backdrop on Yas Island of empty vast modern buildings, a race track and an amusement park detracts from the ambience of the golf course and this together with the fringe conditioning issues, as mentioned earlier, means that I have not given a maximum ball rating. However, No.1 in the Middle East is a worthy accolade and, in my view, Yas Links deserves a place on the grander ‘world’ stage. Go play it and decide for yourself, I have a feeling that you will be delighted you made the effort.

October 15, 2021
9 / 10
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Adam

The course weaves wonderfully up and down the coast, roughly bringing water into play every other hole. A real variety of generous fairways to wide greens can suddenly give way to tight pin positions and extensive bunkers. Really went for the whole links feel with the fescue and even a double green. While the links angle is slightly diminished given the gentle climate, it's still a spectacular stop. There are even rumors that the coastline has been dyed to give off a more attractive shade of blue. Any look at the course does need a mention of 16, 17 and 18, which are as strong a finishing trio as are available in the UAE.

Best Hole-16: As noted any of the final 3 could be entrants but 16 is wonderful. Anything left is wet and there's a massive pot bunker waiting for you in the middle of the fairway even with a decent drive. The result is that the fairway looks like a thimble off the tee. Even a good drive leaves you with a difficult second, there's water and sand left and fescue right all into a narrow and long green.

August 07, 2020
10 / 10
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Josh P

In a part of the world where there is no drought of well conditioned courses, it’s the design of Yas Links that sets it apart. Set on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, nearby to the F1 track, Kyle Phillips work here is straight out of the top drawer.

As with Kingsbarns, the mounding work here makes it look, play and feel, like a genuine links. Most holes have an strategic element to them, and the player is confronted with this from the start on a medium length par 4. The 3rd is the first hole that makes full use of the coastline, dog legging to the left. I really enjoyed the options on the risk reward par 5 7th that is extremely well bunkered. The 8th is a one shotter that plays over the water, as do all of the remaining par 3s. 9 is a classic cape hole, where players chose how much of the corner to cut off.

On the back, I love the double green that the 12th and 15th share. Not only is the green massive, there are lots of different ledges and shelves and so taking note of the pin positions is key. A great example of how fun the greens are here is the shortest hole on the course, the par 3 13th. Despite being the shortest, it is definitely not the easiest, with a crazy green with lots of different run off areas. The finishing three holes are probably the signature holes here- all involving water and offering the player exhilarating shots.

For me, this is the best course in the UAE by some distance.

April 22, 2020
8 / 10
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Scarlett

Notwithstanding the ongoing zombie apocalypse, there is change in the air at Yas Links. They seem to have recognised the concerns over some of the conditioning issues and have already rectified many of them. Plenty of new sods were growing in and conditioning as of mid-March is solid if not spectacular.

Some things never change however and the course retains the same challenging, exciting, even exhilarating design. The aesthetics are probably even improved right now as the rollercoasters and water park have fallen silent, another victim to the overwhelming shut-down of public facilities designed to keep people apart from one another. Yas Island as a whole is perhaps a shadow of itself. The staff at my hotel noted that even the golf course was closing at the same time the theme parks were directed to, but fortunately that was not the case and the afternoon I played seemed sufficiently solidly booked with golfers. That being said, I was graciously allowed out a little early by the starter and was never held up so it was a very pleasant round. A green and serene patch amongst meltdowns, closures and concerns. My family and I have a fortnight of 'isolation' to look forward to when we return to Australia in a week; assuming there will still be an airline to get us back there... but enough of this twaddle: to the golf.

What a wonderful and exciting course Yas Links is. It feels almost natural, even though the land surrounding the course is mostly flat, the fairways roll across the land twisting and falling. And the green complexes were probably the highlight for me. There are some buried elephants out there where a mishit or overly aggressive chip or putt can have you replaying from off the green once more. Some really interesting shaping and thought definitely required with the short irons and flat stick in hand.

Off the tee was no let up either with options available aplenty. Whilst the back nine certainly plays harder, the front is equally as interesting. This course requires patience and thought. Anything less will have you playing from some of the wild looking bunkers, or worse, from the thick coastal ground-cover from which I couldn't execute a single decent recovery.

The hotels being constructed down at the turn point of the back nine are eyesores now in brutal grey concrete and when completed I can't imagine that will improve greatly, but it is what it is on Yas Island. You can always look the other way out over the azure water and adjacent sand island. The course staff were excellent, including marshalls on both the front and back nines to keep the pace of play moving.

Yas Links is a wonderful course and comes highly recommended.

Review of the month March 2020

March 17, 2020
9 / 10
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Andy Newmarch

Yas has some brilliant holes and is a must-play and safe to say Abu Dhabi's number 1 course and is certainly links-like and is really impressive. Lots of holes by the water, strong bunkering throughout, expected waste-areas and quality green-sites that are now common on Kyle Phillips designed courses - The Grove and Kingsbarns in the UK and Verdura in Sicily are comparable of greens on his courses that I have played.

Just a small negative note though, right now in December '19 the presentation is not perfect - there have been a few issues this year with drainage and some heavy traffic parts of the course that have not been managed well. I think in perfect condition a 5.5 ball ranking would be very close for me. These problems are already being attended to and now that the Troon Group have taken over the management at Yas I am sure it will not be too long before their standards are evident on the course.

There are too many standout holes to Yas Links Golf Course - Photo by reviewer mention all of them but a few of my choices are as follows (played from the white 66 tee) - The dog-legging to the left 3rd at 400 yards down the coast-line with eight bunkers protecting the hole is an early favourite. The 4th played 189 yards and is the only short hole not over water (the others are at the 8th, 13th and 17th) but has one of the best greens with so many pin options to bring in the many run-offs, this is a great design. The 9th tee is a special place to prepare for a tee shot on a big par-4 (428 yards) which needs to cut across the water to reach the fairway, deep breath and trust your swing here and try not to let Ferrari World to your left get in your eye-line.

The back nine is set on a much thinner piece of land, so there is a little out and in feel for the second half. The 11th is a snake-like par-5 and I would favour the left side for the tee shot and also the second shot. Another links-like feel comes at the 12th green, which is in fact a double green for the 15th - both protected by some serious bunkering.

Your round finishes on a high note with the last three holes all influenced by the Arabian sea on the left - approaching the par-4 16th is a real test to another thin green, another with plenty of bunker protection. The 17th is a fantastic par-3 and is my top 10 short holes that I have ever played - all carry over the sea to a heavily protected and undulating green, a real feel good hole. The 18th can play up to 646 yards from the Black 74 tee and this an epic hole with decisions to be made on every shot; decisions on which side to play, how far each shot should be and then eventually at the Pebble Beach style of green-site it continues to be a game within a game. That last 40 minutes or so from the 16th tee is as good a course finish that I can think of - exciting, exhilarating and so much fun.

Enjoyed the Spanish style of clubhouse as Yas too - slightly unexpected in the Middle East but it works well. Very impressed with the golf plus the many other facilities on Yas Island too; international hotels, theme park, marina, shopping malls and the now famous F1 circuit. Yes it is all very man-made and obviously new but extremely popular. Recommended.

December 31, 2019
8 / 10
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Hendrik

Played Yas a number of times while in the UAE. It's a spectacular setting and a strong design by Kyle Philips. I've enjoyed every visit and keep coming back. You can get some good tee time deals by checking their website or calling in on the day.

The front 9 are somewhat tamer than the back 9 which often play into the wind in the late afternoon. That makes 14-18 a long walk with tough shots into the wind. Sure, Yas Links is a 'faux' links course but done extremely well. The conditioning is very good and the greens always in top condition. I've taken both carts and walked the course, and walking is fine except if it's too hot of course. There is also a good range and a small short game area plus a 9 hole par 3 practice course (which I think is lit at night).

The clubhouse has a nice terrace overlooking the 18th green, and around the corner from the 9th, and it's a good place for an after round drink. The food is good too. Given the proximity to the race track, you sometimes hear the pitch of high-revving engines but it's not something I mind.

I would strongly recommend Yas Links if you're in the region. Abu Dhabi is just two hours from Dubai and it's well worth the drive. I'd also play Abu Dhabi National and perhaps Saadiyat while in the area.

October 19, 2019
7 / 10
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Phillip Akers

From the staff to the course Yas is of the highest quality anywhere. Upon arrival the staff in the changing room cleaned our shoes before sending us through to where our buggies were waiting and ready to hit some balls on our names range bay. From there the course is just superb. The greens put your short game through the most stringent of tests but good shots are rewarded. Thanks for a great experience. Phil Akers

June 02, 2019
10 / 10
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Raimondas

My opinion it is bit overrated and overpriced golf course in Abu Dhabi (and in all UAE). I played two times in all of Abu Dhabi golf courses and my ranking could be: 1. Abu Dhabi (National), 2. Saadiyat Beach, 3. Yas Links. Definitely it is desert style golf course similar to scottish links without trees to survive midday sun and long enough to walk. Golf cart is desirable in hot days. Concerning prices staff is not very flexible as Abu Dhabi National and bit higher than in other Abu Dhabi golf clubs, but service is lower level (especially if you are not member).

Yas Links is not very picturesque golf fields and besides that you see is couple hotels and large round building (offices or something else), definitely roof of Ferrari World. Nothing attractive...

In general both times condition of fields was good, greens fast and relatively large with many pin positions, fairways with some laps of ground, but playable. Clubhouse is big and spacious with views to sea (gulf). Food and beer in restaurant is pretty good and prices are high enough.

Golf course is challenging enough except few holes. One of remembrance hole was No. 7 (par 5 really challenging and risky), No. 9 and No. 15 (short, drivable par 4 that requires risky shot over water and bunkers to reach, tricky hole). 17th hole is about 200 y and the longest par 3 on the course making for a really difficult finish in windy conditions. The last hole (par 5) is the longest and one of the hardest on the course. Into the front wind it required a crazy long drive and not worse second shot with wood. To play towards a huge gully that drops down to the water must to carry huge perfectly 3 wood direct and carefully. After this hole the pint of beer is necessary.

No doubt every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Yas Links my personal opinion is follow:

1. Challenging - 5*

2. Condition - 4* (could be better especially fairways)

3. Service - 4*

4. Surroundings - 3* +

5. Value for the price - 3* +

I think it's really not worth going back again.

March 25, 2019
6 / 10
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