Spectacular skylines, striking architecture, luxury shopping and gorgeous weather year round – small wonder that the UAE has fast become the ultimate holiday destination. And the golf is exceptional too. Over the past 15 years or so the sun-soaked cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become some of the most in-demand and lavish golf destinations on the planet. It now welcomes the very best professional golfers for regular tournaments, including the Dubai Desert Classic and DP World Tour Championship. And for golfing jet-setters, the UAE delivers an experience that will make you the envy of your friends. We’ve painstakingly put together a list of our favourite places to play, take a look below…
Annual host of the Dubai Desert Classic, you’ll struggle to find such a memorable layout. Opened in 1998, The Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club was the first 18-hole all grass golf course in the Middle East. The course, inspired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, features a stunning clubhouse designed in the style of a Bedouin tent, sitting behind the 8th green. In fact, Justin Rose recognised the 8th as one of his top 9 holes on the planet.
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates plays host to the DP World Tour Championship, seeing the Race to Dubai conclude in dramatic fashion every November. At over 7,700 yards from the back tees, with over 100 bunkers and numerous water hazards throughout, this course is certainly not for the faint hearted. Picking out a single hole here is nigh-on impossible; all 18 are simply stunning and will challenge even the best of golfers.
Opened in December 2015, Al Zorah is one of the newest courses in the UAE. Located in Ajman, the smallest emirate in the region, the set-up is truly world class. An array of wildlife, an abundance of native sandy areas and 12km of waterfront make Al Zorah so special. Another must play on your UAE golf holiday, just a short drive from Dubai.
The majestic sail-shaped clubhouse here is symbolic of golf in Dubai: lavish, luxurious and unique. Dubai Creek is known for its well-manicured fairways and greens, lined with date and coconut palms and tropical shrubbery. Previous host of the Dubai Desert Classic on two occasions, there’s no doubting that Dubai Creek is yet another excellent course in the area.
Ernie Els combined both a desert and links style here to create one of the very best courses in the UAE. The South African has taken inspiration from some of his favourite courses on the planet. Notice the complex undulating greens, similar to those that are so notorious at Pinehurst No.2, and the traitorous bunkers resembling those at Royal Melbourne. The Els Club is undoubtedly one of the very best layouts in Dubai: a must-play on your golf break.
The No.1 ranked course in the UAE, and the first links course in the region, Yas Links exemplifies golf at its finest. Designed by Kyle Phillips, the course is sandwiched between the Arabian Gulf and the Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 18th is a magical finishing hole, with a thin fairway running between the coastline and a couple of hazardous bunkers.
Home of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Abu Dhabi Golf Club has fast become one of the most recognisable courses in the UAE. There’s no shortage of water hazards here, so make sure to pack plenty of balls! Both nines return to the notorious falcon clubhouse, magnificently overlooking the 18th green. The 9-hole night golf is also an incredible experience that cannot be missed.
The Montgomerie Golf Club encompasses over 200 acres of beautifully sculpted landscape, featuring 14 lakes and 81 bunkers in total. The par five 4th is a particular highlight, known as the 'snake' hole for its saddleback fairway which doglegs towards the sloping green, protected by 2 bunkers behind forming the eyes of the snake.
Last, but certainly not least, is Saadiyat Beach Golf Course. Located on the spectacular Saadiyat Island to the north-east of Abu Dhabi city centre, panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf are in abundance. Designed by Gary Player and opened in 2010, Saadiyat Beach features 67 bunkers, one of which runs along the entire 350 yards of the fairway on the 10th.