Top 20 Golf Courses of the Middle East 2017
Who would have thought when the first European Tour tournament was staged in the Middle East in 1989 (the Dubai Desert Classic at the newly constructed Emirates Golf Club) that this region would become such an important destination on both the men’s and ladies’ professional circuits?
This year, for example, the main tour has already visited three times and it will return again in December for the season finale, the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The Senior Tour has an event here, the Sharjah Masters, in March and the Challenge Tour checks in twice at the end of the year for the Ras Al Hamra Golf Challenge in UAE and the NBO Golf Classic in Oman.
The top female professionals also get in on the act, competing in a couple of season-ending events, namely the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in November and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club in December. There’s also the likelihood of the Qatar Ladies Open at Doha Golf Club being staged in between those two competitions.
We recognised the importance of the region in golfing terms back in 2009 when we created our first ranking chart for the United Arab Emirates. We extended our UAE list to fifteen courses during our last re-ranking exercise but, this time around, we’ve cast the net a little wider, which has resulted in six courses from neighbouring nations entering the mix with fourteen Emirates courses to form our first Middle East Top 20.
At number 1, we have the highly-acclaimed Kyle Phillips 18-hole design at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, where reviewers have been profuse in their praise: “the design and the condition is fantastic,” “typical links with lots of swales,” “holes are all strong… with true greens and great vistas,” “truly magnificent with some great holes,” “nothing else compares to it in the region” – this is just a small selection of the comments we’ve received since the course first opened for play in 2010.
At number 2, the course at Al Mouj Golf is set out between Muscat international airport and the sandy shores of the Gulf of Oman. The layout has been described by one commentator as “an absolute belter of a golf course” and this person went on to say the bold architectural nature of the layout means there are “no gentle crescendos on this Greg Norman design”. It’s been constructed as a modern links, where fairways run along two kilometres of beach within an ambitious resort project called The Wave.
Peter Harradine’s Championship layout at Doha Golf Club, close to the Qatari capital, is at number 6 in our new listings and the course has been a firm fixture on the European Tour schedule since the Qatar Masters was first held there in 1998. With some holes framed by rock formations and others laid out around water hazards, there’s lots of variety be found on this highly enterprising track.
Just outside the Top 10 at number 11, we have something of a rare phenomenon; a Pete Dye design located outside the United States of America. The course at Caesarea Golf Club was established by the Rothschild Family in the early 1960s then it was almost fifty years in operation before it was given a new millennium upgrade by Dye’s design company in 2007/8, with Tim Liddy acting as the project architect.
At number 13, the Montgomerie course at Royal Golf Club in Bahrain began life as a Karl Litten design for Riffa Golf Club but this setup closed in 2007, re-emerging after a European Golf Design makeover two years later in its current guise. Part of the luxury Riffa Views residential complex, the course was assessed as a tough test by one reviewer recently, who termed it “a great golfer’s course [which is] not for high handicappers as you will struggle if you stray from the fairways.”
Another course from the much underrated Peter Harradine portfolio makes our standings at number 18 and it’s the 18-hole layout at Sahara Golf & Country Club in Kuwait where twelve of the holes are routed inside the Equestrian & Hunting Club’s horse racing track. A 9-hole circuit can also be played under floodlights in the evening, allowing golfers to avoid scorching daytime temperatures during the summer.
One course that doesn’t feature in our Middle East list is Gil Hanse’s new layout at Trump International Golf Club Dubai which will be unveiled later this year after a lengthy grow in period. Constructed as “a modern course with a traditional feel,” those who’ve already had a look around are of the opinion that the open, links-like styling of this course will guarantee it becoming yet another highly-regarded top track in the Trump collection.
|4||Abu Dhabi (National)||UAE|
To view further details of our new 2017 Middle East Top 20 rankings click the link.
If you’d like to comment on these new regional listings then please use the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to get in touch with us. We encourage feedback – both good and bad – so don’t hesitate to let us know what you think if you have a strong opinion about anything you’re read in the preceding article.
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