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​Top 20 Golf Courses of the Middle East 2019

25 February, 2019

Top 20 Golf Courses of the Middle East 2019

We’ve been ranking courses within the Middle East for a decade now, having established an initial Top 10 for the United Arab Emirates in 2009. All told, we now feature twenty-six courses across thirteen countries which are situated between Egypt in North Africa and Afghanistan in Asia, with sixteen of these layouts located inside the prosperous UAE.

Both the top men’s and women’s professional European tours have visited the region so far this year. The LET women golfers were there first in January for the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi and they will be back to Dubai in May for the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic on the Faldo course at the Emirates Golf Club.

Who could forget the controversial European Tour event hosted on the new Royal Greens Golf & Country Club course outside Jeddah in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, when Sergio Garcia was disqualified for “serious misconduct”? The main Tour now returns to the Sultanate of Oman this week for the second staging of the Oman Open on the Championship course at Al Mouj Golf.

The week after, the top pros play on the Championship course at Doha Golf Club in the State of Qatar, where they’ve been teeing it up at the Qatar Masters since 1998, and the season-ending finale on the men’s circuit will be held in November at the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates – the winner of the DP World Tour Championship pockets a cool $3 million, more than double the first-place prize money paid out last season.

An interesting and rather unique tournament is also being held in April on the new Greg Norman-designed layout at Ayla Golf Club in Jordan, with forty professionals from the Challenge Tour, the Ladies European Tour and the Staysure Tour competing alongside three invited amateurs for the same prize purse (and the stylish cut crystal Triquetra Trophy) at the Jordan Mixed Open.

And so to the first revision of our Middle East Top 20 which was inaugurated two years ago and in this second edition of the chart there are three new entries, four climbers, five non-movers and eight others taking a tumble down the table.

The top three places remain the same as last time so this means the Kyle Phillips-designed Yas Links course in Abu Dhabi holds onto the number 1 spot. Opened for play in 2010, the course was visited a while back by our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary who, it has to be said, quite likes to get himself around the world whenever the opportunity arises to seek out the best golf on offer.

He started his review by saying the course was “another wonderful addition to Kyle Phillips’ global portfolio” and he felt “the shaping team did a magnificent job taking a flat desert (to create) wonderful undulation, hollows, humps and bumps.” After highlighting several holes on the layout, Fergal ended his post with: “there is so much to love about this golf course and the way that Kyle Phillips created a crescendo of challenge and excitement throughout this incredible piece of land.”

One of the biggest risers in the revised chart is made by the Fire course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, making a modest two-place climb to number 13. Designed by Greg Norman, this 18-hole layout largely plays second fiddle to the Earth course, which comes under the spotlight every year when the “Race to Dubai” reaches its climax but the subtlety of this track is the perfect foil to the bold design of its more widely known stablemate.

The highest new entry arrives at an impressive number 7 in the new listings and it’s a recent Gil Hanse and Jim Wager co-design at Trump International Golf Club Dubai. The first new course to open in the UAE's most populous city for seven years when it was unveiled in 2017, it’s been played by a number of professionals during the European Tour’s Middle East swing. Graeme McDowell’s opinion was that “Gil did a great job producing something that looks authentic,“ while Tyrrell Hatton felt the course had “some of the finest turf I’ve ever seen.” We’ve yet to receive a review for this track but we’re eagerly anticipating one in the months ahead.

Another couple of newly constructed tracks miss out on a ranking spot this time around. The first one is the course at Dubai Hills Golf Club, designed by Gary Johnson of European Golf Design, and the second one is the 18-hole layout at Education City Golf Club on the outskirts of Doha, where José María Olazábal’s design company has fashioned a new golf complex. You can be assured that we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on both of these brand new projects.

To view further details of the latest Middle East rankings click the link.

If you have anything to say about these updated regional positions then please use the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page to let us know what you’re thinking. We’re happy to receive criticism – whether it’s good or not so good – so get in touch if there’s something you’d like to tell us about what you’ve just read.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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