Review of the Month February 2017 – Almouj - Oman
In a way was almost a shame that we played Almouj first because whatever comes after it in Muscat could well be a disappointment as this place is absolutely top drawer. The course stretches along the shoreline and played in a loop in classic links fashion although the lush grass on the fairway helps the ball sit up and, despite potentially strong winds off the sea, is less brutal than British links.
With the Gulf of Oman on one side and the Hajar mountains on the other this Greg Norman designed course is in a superb setting and no expense has been spared on the detail. The greens are fast and true, the bunkers suitably penal and there is some tough rough if you go far off line. This is no place for the novice although for them there is the floodlit nine-hole par three course that one flies over on the way into land at Oman International airport. One of our party found the proximity of jumbo jets somewhat off putting although I thought that they only added to the spectacle and drama of the place.
There are five tee box positions and we played off the most forward of the men's tees which still delivers a highly competitive 6,418 yards. The highlights for me were the second hole, a 181 yard par three off the white tees where one turns left after the par four first and play straight towards the Gulf of Oman and a raised green. The ball soars against a vivid backdrop of blues, with the pale blue sky dropping like a curtain onto a deeper blue ocean and the raised sloping green. Drama and beauty meld happily in one terrific short hole.
There are challenges and delights all the way round although the island green surrounded by water, very similar to that at TPC Sawgrass, on the short par three 14th becomes harder the more forward the tees are. From the back tee the green is deeper, but as one moves sideways to get closer it becomes ever more shallow a target. I was delighted with my three here as all my three companions ended up wet.
By Stephen Killick - photo by Stephen KillickReview of the Month February 2017 selected by Editor-in-Chief, Keith Baxter – click here to read the full review