Golf in Abu Dhabi

Stuart Forster reports on Golf in Abu Dhabi.

“If it’s a first trip to Abu Dhabi it’s a bit of a whammy because at this time we’re beginning to really reap the benefits in the growth of tourism to Abu Dhabi,” says Chris Card, the Group General Manager of Troon Golf, within sight of the falcon-shaped façade of Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s clubhouse.

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Though we’re in the United Arab Emirates, a nation often associated with the arid landscapes of the Arabian Peninsula, the fairway we’re on is well tended and lush. The only sand in view is within a carefully raked bunker.

It’s a January afternoon and a soft breeze is swaying the palm fronds along the edge of the course. The sun is shining and the temperature is about 23°C. The weather is ideal for golf.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Some of the world’s best golfers play along the fairway during the annual Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which was established in 2006 and has helped raise awareness that the emirate is a viable golf destination, especially during winter. Players such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have competed in the event.

The championship is part of the PGA European Tour. Gary Stal, the French golfer, lifted the silver falcon trophy upon winning the 2015 tournament, following the examples of Pablo Larrazabal, in 2014, and Jamie Donaldson, in 2013.

Peter Harradine designed golf courses

Abu Dhabi Golf Club has two courses, both designed by Peter Harradine. The championship standard National Course has 90 bunkers along its 7,334 yards. The nine-hole, 3,399-yard Garden Course is floodlit and easier to play, making it accessible to less experienced players.

The National Course is one of three championship standard courses in the emirate.

“Of the three main championship golf courses, you’ll have three completely different experiences. From a links-style golf course at Yas Links to more of a beach style at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club to a traditional style at Abu Dhabi Golf Club,” says Chris, who still plays when he can find the time.

Pablo Larrazabal during the 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Pablo Larrazabal during the 2014 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Abu Dhabi’s tourist attractions

“It’s a good time to be here. We experience not only fantastic golf, fantastic hospitality with all of our resort partners and hotels and great service from Etihad. But we also have things like Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. You can’t miss the heritage side of Abu Dhabi,” says Chris, who previously managed the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.

The emirate is experiencing rapid development of its tourist attractions and the opening of a number of leading museums is planned over the next few years. The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in 2017.

It’s anticipated that playing a round will be just one of the reasons visitors head to Abu Dhabi in years to come.

How to get to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways is the national carrier of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi International Airport is Etihad’s hub for international connections. Check the possibility of arranging a stay over in Abu Dhabi to get a taste of what the emirate has to offer.

Thinking of travelling to Abu Dhabi? You may find thus pocket Abu Dhabi guide handy:

Playing golf in Abu Dhabi

Take a look at the Visit Abu Dhabi website to find out more about golf in the emirate. Abu Dhabi has six pay-and-play courses, including three of championship standard.

Most hotels can arrange tee-off times for guests. You can also contact courses such as the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Abu Dhabi Golf Club directly.

Where to stay in Abu Dhabi

The 172-room Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa (P.O. Box 126797; tel. +971 2 616 9999) provides stylish accommodation with private balconies and views of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s championship golf course. The Westin’s Heavenly Spa has six treatment rooms. The 700 square metre, lagoon-style pool area is fringed by palm trees, with sun loungers and a pool for swimming lengths. The hotel has six bars and restaurants serving international cuisine, including Sacci, where Italian food is served.

Further information

See the Visit Abu Dhabi website for more information about things to do and see in the emirate. See the Troon Abu Dhabi website for information about playing at the Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Beach and Yas Links clubs.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.

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The Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
The Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.

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