Category: Dubai

January 31, 2014

Hello, Dubai: Celebrating The Other Duel In The Desert

Posted at 4:10 PM by Mike Walker

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Emirates Golf Club
The risk-reward eighth hole is one of the memorable tests that make the Emirates Golf Club Majilis Course worth a trip, Travelin' Joe Passov says. (Landmark Media)


Tiger Woods is competing in the wrong desert this week. I say that practically every year. I really wish he would play in my hometown event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he’s been absent since 2001. That said, after a recent trip to Dubai, I now at least understand Tiger’s attraction to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Sure the appeal of appearance money is undeniable, but Dubai’s enticements go well beyond the cash.

To be fair, coin of the realm is indeed what has shaped and elevated Dubai. Oil money and tourism has transformed a poker table-flat, sleepy fishing village on the Arabian Gulf into a staggering collection of skyscrapers, resort hotels, golf courses and shopping meccas. The most famous dwelling in Dubai these days is Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, 2,722 feet, with 163 floors. You might remember Tom Cruise hanging off its side in 2011’s “Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol.” The elevator ascent to the top is alarmingly swift; the dizzying view from the top will buckle your knees.

The legendary Burj Al Arab hotel is worth a tour, even if you’re not holed up there for the night. That’s the joint with the helicopter landing pad from which Tiger has launched golf balls and Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have swatted tennis balls. The Burj Al Arab’s lavish, grin-inducing excesses, including an aquarium and suites fit for sultans are colorful tributes to the joys of spending—much like the Dubai Mall, a mind-boggling monument to conspicuous consumption. No less opulent is the brand new JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the world’s tallest hotel. Kudos to the superb service, convenient central business location, and especially to two of the greatest hotel restaurants in existence, Prime 68 Steakhouse (on the 68th floor) and especially the Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, for Indian cuisine nonpareil.

Still, I braved the 14-hour flight to Dubai not so much to eat and sleep, but to tee it up. The golf didn’t disappoint. Although Tiger’s first design went fallow before completion, recent arrivals from Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Baker-Finch—and one on the way via Donald Trump and Gil Hanse—complement the region’s two classics, Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. Both are worth the journey.

Now 26 years old, the Emirates Golf Club is the undisputed anchor tenant in the Dubai golf mall. Its original layout, the Majlis, a 1988 Karl Litten creation, is where Tiger is plying his trade this week. Tabbed the “desert miracle,” owing to its nothing-to-something special rise, Majlis (Arabic for “meeting place”) is a superb test that embraces a nearly unique aesthetic. The 7,301-yard layout sports mature (25-year-old) trees, scrub-covered open desert areas and an ever-changing backdrop of skyscrapers new and old. Most memorable is the 459-yard, par-4 eighth, a slight uphill dogleg right that demands a bite-off-as-much-as-you-dare drive over desert scrub, followed by an approach straight at the kind of high-rises that would challenge Superman to leap over in a single bound.

What stands out if you’re a longtime European Tour viewer is the par-5 18th. A 564-yard, risk/reward temptress, this sharp dogleg left dishes out a nervy call on the second shot: whether or not to go for the shallow, hourglass-shaped green on the other side of a massive lake. When the shadows of the television tower lengthen in the late afternoon, it can be nerve-wracking putting down the green toward the water on Sunday of the Dubai Desert Classic. The unique Bedouin tent-style clubhouse beckons after the round.

Emirates’ second course, once known as Wadi (“Valley”), was reworked in 2006 by Nick Faldo and now bears his name. The Faldo is near-equal in challenge to the Majlis, if not in character, but it is lit for night play, a huge plus when the mercury soars.

Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
The clubhouse and ninth green at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in the United Arab Emirates. (Getty Images)


Dubai Golf, the management and marketing entity that operates the Emirates Golf Club, also runs another excellent facility, Dubai Creek. Adjacent to the Park Hyatt Dubai (a luxury hotel that perfectly blends Western and Moorish influences and which sports handsome views of the marina), DubaI Creek furnishes a superior par-3 course—Rory McIlroy has sampled it—and a totally fun championship 18, more resort-y than Emirates Majlis, but no less fascinating. The finish is world-class, with the 354-yard 17th and the 421-yard 18th a pair of riveting par-4s that skirt the wide, boat-filled Dubai Creek. The daunting home hole features a backdrop of one of golf’s most distinctive clubhouses, which resembles the sails of an Arabic dhow.

Tiger, Rory, Henrik—I wish you were playing in Scottsdale this week. However, at long last, I understand why Dubai is so compelling.

July 19, 2010

'Wear in the World' visits Dubai

Posted at 4:47 PM by

This week Chris and Steve are in Dubai, where their competition for a job at Adidas is heating up and ... cooling down?

Everyone knows Dubai is in the middle of the desert, but it also boasts a mall with a full-sized ski hill. There's also a tubing run, and after seeing some of the sites around the city, including the world's tallest building, the guys hit the slopes with five points on the line. Who came out on top? Check out the footage.

The guys also got a chance to hit the "browns" (not greens) shortly after arriving.

Read more at, a collection of blog posts following Adidas Golf's "Wear in the World" adventure.


June 04, 2010

Acquiring local knowledge in St. Andrews

Posted at 7:47 PM by Chad Conine

Chad Conine is a sportswriter from Texas who spent the summer in Scotland and the town of St. Andrews. He chronicled his golf adventures before this year's British Open, held at the Old Course July 15-18.

As I stared across the putting green, adjacent to The Old Course at a couple of minutes before 6 a.m., this question came to mind:

"Why did I get up this early?"Puttingcourse

The sun, which broke through the horizon over the North Sea more than an hour before, was rising higher above the water to the east and suddenly the answer to my question was clear. 

The guy who arrived at the starter's box at 3 a.m. was more motivated than me. This is only partially because I was a sportswriter in Texas for 10 years, when I developed a lifestyle that dictated that I typically roll out of bed just in time for an early lunch. The real reason: that guy who beat me to the queue for golf has a much more limited opportunity to play The Old Course.

I've been here for two months now. I've looped the Old Lady three times and I intend to do it at least once more before she closes in preparation for The Open. Not this morning, though. I realize when I'm beaten, so I went back to bed.

However, while living in St. Andrews for this length of time has made me slightly more laid-back about playing The Old Course than most Americans in Scotland. On the flip side, I've done things I would not have made time for during a one- or even two-week stay. Three examples:

1.) A couple of weeks ago, I teamed with soon-to-be St. Andrews University graduate Lissa Eng, from Washington D.C., to make America proud by defeating Jonny Muir of Nottingham, England, and Kelly Yates of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a putting match at The Himalayas, an 18-hole putting course sandwiched between the first green and second tee at The Old Course and the first tees of the New and Jubilee courses. Eng two-putted the final hole to secure a 1-up victory. It was the only frustration-free round of golf I've played since arriving in Scotland as not once did I pull a shot left of the fairway into a gorse bush.

2.) About once a week for the last month, I've popped into The Rule for the breakfast special — one sausage link, one slab of bacon, one egg, beans, hash browns, tomato, mushrooms, two pieces of toast and coffee for 3-pounds-50. If played correctly, The Rule breakfast can take me right through 18 holes of golf and keep me running until supper time. Hanging out with students points me in the direction of this type of thing. Others include the quiz at Drouthy's on Wednesday night, the music quiz at the student union building and football (read soccer) matches at every pub in town — England vs. Japan at Whey Pat, the Champions League final at Ma Belle's and, coming soon, England vs. U.S.A. in the World Cup at a site to be determined.

3.) I've established a usual Friday game with guys from St. Andrews Baptist Church on the Strathtyrum course. This game is a highlight of the week because I get to hang out with a group of a dozen-or-so jovial retirees who play golf with varying degrees of skill, but enjoy it equally. It also gives me a chance to take a weekly stab at breaking 80 on the 5,004-yard par-69 layout. Next week we're taking on Leven Baptist Church in a friendly competition. Results to follow.

So I'll get in line early enough to play The Old Course one day next week. Please forgive me if I'm not in too much of a rush, though.

(Photo: The Himalayas putting course offers a little practice on the short game and a lot of relaxed fun just beside the beating heart of The Old Course.)

March 06, 2010's Middle East course spy reports on two new courses in Abu Dhabi

Posted at 1:26 PM by's Middle East course spy reports on two new courses in Abu Dhabi, which is challenging Dubai to become the region's premier golf destination.

As you head north out of Abu Dhabi along the city's palm-lined, waterfront corniche, the world's lone seven-star hotel, Emirates Palace, is in your rearview mirror and Dubai lies 75 minutes ahead. In recent years, most golfers finding themselves in Abu Dhabi would need to make that drive north to get in a decent round.

One of the only alternatives was a "browns" course that was little more than a patch of desert with some smoothed areas around the pins. Players carried a patch of Astroturf on which they could place the ball before each shot. It wasn't exactly Hilton Head.

Continue reading "'s Middle East course spy reports on two new courses in Abu Dhabi" »

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