Perfect picture: what makes the golf experience in the United Arab Emirates so special?

20210615 dubai creek golf and yacht club

Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
Photo credit: Delivered

In more than a decade of playing golf in the UAE on a regular basis, I can honestly say that every time I play, no matter what golf course, I am very grateful for this opportunity.

Growing up in England, my golf education brought regular joys like rain (often sideways and the whole lap), freezing wind, mud, and my personal favorites snow and ice.

Many hardcore golfers play through the seasons regardless of the conditions and, as with most things in life, you adapt. However, it is quite difficult to swing a racket when you are wearing five layers of clothing and the waterproof clothing. You don’t hear anyone “Fore!” because of a beanie or earmuffs and if you actually smash a 300 yard (downhill with a tailwind of course), it disappears forever in the marshy fairway, or if the course has not yet thawed because you started too early, you can hear your 150 yard Approach pings off the ice on the green, never to be seen again. To top it all, your giant golf umbrella, which you put down to tee off, will be carried to another part of the course by a gust of wind. The justification for this ordeal is that “it will keep your swing going until the weather improves across the board”. I am less convinced now.

Additional treats, especially if you are playing on a public rather than private course, are to put your golf shoes on in the parking lot multiple times and wait 15 minutes at each hole (Manchester’s Heaton Park Golf Club is a good example – great.) Track however), random members of the audience who appear on the fairways while walking their dogs. The green fees can be quite cheap, however.


The Emirates Golf Club has had many famous visitors

All in all, there are many wonderful golf clubs and great golf courses in every country. What makes the golf experience in the United Arab Emirates so special?

The first course I played when I arrived in Dubai was The Faldo at the Emirates Golf Club. The month was January, the weather was perfect, about 25 degrees and sunny. When I drove to the club I was impressed with the sheer quality of the place. The manicured fairways of the 9th and 10th holes, the beautifully designed clubhouse, the bag drop – oh wow, I didn’t even have to get out of the car. The friendly member of staff took the clubs out of the trunk, asked politely about my tee time and next time I saw them on the very cool golf cart, with free teas, towels, even an ice bucket for the free bottles of water? (of course included in the green fee), but hey, millionaire treatment.

Then the clubhouse experience. Restaurants, gyms, tennis courts, a very cool pro shop to get those three sleeves full of balls that I’m about to lose, and the changing rooms … well, superb.

All these years later and a few more places played, and little has changed in the approach of the UAE club owners and operators ensuring a world class experience for everyone involved. It’s honestly a golfer’s paradise. If we’re being completely honest, it’s not the cheapest thing you can do, but I’d say it’s worth every dirham of membership (as long as you play enough) or the cost of a visitor’s green fee. Top tip: It’s best to get to know a member and play as a guest!

Dubai Hills Golf Club

Dubai Hills Golf Club
Image source: Dubai Hills Golf Club

It is a testament to the knowledge and skills of the greenkeeping management and their teams that the UAE golf courses offer a championship standard playing environment. We should remember the relative youth of most golf courses and that they were built in the desert. Between trees and rolling fairways, it can sometimes be forgotten that Dubai Hills is a great example of this.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for golfers in the United Arab Emirates is the hot summer weather. Let’s face it, it’s not as bad as the above conditions and the fact that we are now being pampered to the limit makes it all very bearable. There are also good prices in summer.

I remember when I was a member of the Al Badia Golf Club for seven years (No comment!) That the staff picked you up on the 17th tee with a fresh melon and cold towels – come on, hit that! We don’t even walk around the course anymore, nicely furnished buggies with sat-nav take us around and there is rarely a lack of F&B options, be it in the café shops on the course or in the ‘tuck truck’.

All in all, I know where I’d rather play golf, and I think it’s our collective duty as the polite, respectful sports enthusiasts, the bag drop staff, the tuck truck driver, and all the teams on the course and in the clubhouse. They deliver our premier UAE golf experience at the highest level and it is always very impressive.

Mark Rix


Mark Rix is ​​the commercial director for Gulf News and he’s picking around on a Friday morning! Send him your golf messages and pictures.


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