Earth is one of four elementally-themed golf courses being developed at Jumeirah Golf Estates and one of the two courses being designed by Greg Norman in the first phase of the project. The decision to host the first Dubai World Championship on the Earth course was taken after Norman visited the site this month to monitor progress and make final design enhancements.
Greg Norman said: 'As a golf course architect, it is both rewarding and challenging to know that this course will be hosting the Dubai World Championship.'
'I've been fortunate to have a number of PGA Tour events played on courses I have designed. Of course, Jumeirah Golf Estates will be showcased on a global basis and as the golf course designer, I'm proud to be a part of such a significant event.'
'From my perspective I think that both the Earth and the Fire courses will be equally playable and I'm pleased with the progress that has been made on them.'
Norman was returning to Dubai for his ninth site visit and spent his time fine-tuning the course design for the Championship. The final four holes of the Earth course will, he said, offer a spectacular finish: 'Of course, I think the entire course has a great balance, but the finish will really stand out. The last four holes will measure exactly a mile, 1760 yards. I expect it will be considered one of the most challenging and exciting miles of golf, in terms of risk and reward.
'The 'final four' will be comprised of a short par 4, long par 4, a great par 3 and a medium to long par 5, so a lot of things can happen on the home stretch. There could be a two or three shot swing which will cater to the best players, and of course, will be a defining moment for spectators and the television audience alike.'
The Dubai World Championship will be the richest tournament in golf when it starts in November 2009. The tournament is the climax to the new US$10 million Race to Dubai, a season-long competition replacing the European Tour Order of Merit.
The Championship will welcome the players ranked 1 to 60 on the Race to Dubai, showcasing only the very best golfers worldwide.
David Spencer, Chief Executive, Golf at Leisurecorp, the owner of Jumeirah Golf Estates, said: 'Earth is a fantastic choice for the first event and will be a true challenge of golf for the world's best players.'
'Now that we've got growth on the fairways and greens, as well as a great deal of mature tree planting, you can really see Greg's vision taking shape. I know he's proud of the course - and we certainly are!'
'All four courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates are being developed to the absolutely highest standards and over time, we expect to see the Dubai World Championship being played on one or more of the other courses.'
Greg Norman said he had made a number of changes to the course for the Dubai World Championship on his recent visit, including repositioning some of the tees, lengthening some of the holes and re-contouring some of the greens to allow for more challenging pin positions.
He said: 'There were some significant changes on 7 and on 9 but everything else has been more subtle, getting the greens ready for the speed that we need them and so on. And we've had to allow for the infrastructure of a major tournament. That means laying cabling and getting prepared for the full hospitality suites, designing the right driving range facility, creating ease of access for parking and everything like that.'
Norman also said the local conditions would help ensure some tough golf: 'The challenge is that the wind switches so much. So the variety of this golf course is going to change dramatically from 10 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon - and that's why we had to be meticulous in the way we designed the course.
'There are going to be guys that will get through this golf course teeing off at 11 o'clock one way and then finishing off a totally different way. So they could really get the brunt of all the hard holes into the wind and that's where this golf course could really change things.'
Work is well under way on the Fire and Earth courses, which will be ready for play by the end of 2008 and the first Jumeirah Golf Estates homeowners will move into their communities during the first part of 2009.
21 April 2008 Respond to this article