On the back 9, the par-5 13th requires a brave approach into a small island green, while the 16th is another cracking short hole to test your mettle. The 17th is a wonderful par 4 with a narrow fairway guarded by the creek on the left and bunkers on the right, which demands careful plotting, but the 18th asks for sheer power, as if you can avoid the creek with your drive, a fairway wood or long iron will be required to get over the water and land on a sloping green. It really is a fabulous finishing stretch. With fast-running greens and fairways like billiard tables, it’s golf of the very highest order. Dubai Creek also offers an entertaining 9-hole, par- 3 course, which is fun to play in the daytime, but even better at night, as I did, when they turn on the floodlights and your ball is easy to spot against the night sky.
The Emirates Golf Club, home of the aforementioned Desert Classic, which is also under Dubai Golf’s ownership, is another must-play venue, with its two courses, the Majlis and the Faldo course, being among the city’s most famous tracks. The Majlis, which weaves around seven lakes, is a proper tournament challenge whichever tees you chose to play off. When it first opened in 1987 it was surrounded by nothing but desert, but these days it feels very much downtown, with the course overlooked by towering skyscrapers from almost every angle. With tees from 7,300 yards to 6,300, it’s vital to play off handicap-appropriate tees if you’re not to get into cricket score territory here.
In terms of holes to look out for, the three-hole run from the 7th is superb. Seven is a lovely par 3 over water before the famous drive on 8 which, even if you successfully navigate the desert, leaves to with a tough uphill shot to an undulating green. The 9th is a par 4 which plays tough even the best drive leaves a nerve-jangling approach over water. The back 9 ramps up the challenge, and the last two holes are particularly notable – the almost reachable par 4 17th, and the 18th, which, like 9, requires an approach over water – whether for your second or third.
Our trip coincided with the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, and it’s certainly worth considering combining a golf holiday with some top-class tournament action, as it’s a really great opportunity to get close to the players in a way that you never would at tournaments in the UK or at an Open. There is no problem getting around the course to watch every shot and the atmosphere is great, make sure you book at slot at TopGolf Dubai next door, a driving range experience you don’t want to miss.
Also in the same Dubai Golf stable are the Greg Norman-designed Earth and Fire courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The season-ending DP World Tour Championship is held on the Earth, which features 102 bunkers, 20 lakes and treacherously sloped greens. The final four holes measure over a mile long, while the 651-yard 18th, whose fairway is split by a rock-lined stream, always provides
a stunning climax to the tournament. With the course having grown in nicely since its opening 10 years ago, and mature vegetation softening its visual appeal, the Earth course is impossible to fault in terms of its presentation and conditioning, if you make a birdie at the last, all will be forgiven, and you’ll have stories of how you ‘conquered the earth’ to tell your friends for many years to come.
Dubai boasts a vast array of luxury accommodation options, including the iconic 7-star Burj Al Arab, and the wonder of the world that is Atlantis The Palm. Our trip included a three-night stay at the superb Park Hyatt Dubai, a five-star hotel which is part of the Dubai Creek Resort and backs directly on to the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, making it the perfect haven for a golf escape.
Voted the ‘World’s Best Golf Hotel’ at the 2022 World Golf Awards, and the Middle East’s Most Romantic Resort at the 2022 World Travel Awards, the 93-acre resort offers a wide range of spacious rooms and suites, all of which overlook the creek, while guests can also take advantage of an impressive array of hospitality and leisure facilities, including 14 award-winning restaurants, a spectacular marina with 122 berths, world-class spa facilities, and a stunning Lagoon beach. All of which makes the Park Hyatt the perfect base to sit bit and relax, as well to explore the delights of the city, while also being within a pitching wedge of the golfing action.
Away from those evergreen fairways, Dubai presents a heady mix of Middle Eastern and Western off-course attractions, from its glittering shopping malls packed with luxury brands and the aforementioned ski slopes, to Legoland, IMG’s World of Adventures (the world’s largest indoor theme park) and the recently opened Museum of the Future, which showcases technological development and innovation, especially in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Those with shopaholic tendencies can get their retail fix in the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping, entertainment and leisure’ destination. A temple to different ways of parting you from large amounts of cash, the mall boasts over 1,200 shops, including two department stores stocking all the latest luxury and fashion brands. There are also a wide range of leisure attractions for families, including a multi- screen cinema, an aquarium, an ice rink and a vast children’s play zone called KidZania.
While the Dubai Mall boasts a wide range of food options, if you’re looking to dip in and out of a variety of culinary cultures, then the Time Out Market is the place to go. Featuring pop-up stalls and outposts of some the city’s best restaurants, the market offers 17 unique food concepts taking inspiration from cuisines from all over the world, including India, Japan, Vietnam, the Middle East and the US. As well as great food, the market is also a live entertainment venue, with regular dates for bands, DJs, theatrical performances and art exhibitions.
Competing for your visual attention, as well as your custom, is the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, which dominates the city’s skyline and whose observation deck on the 148th floor – which is only two-thirds of the way up – is
a must-visit to get an idea of the extent of Dubai’s development. It also features the world’s fastest lifts – elevators, if you prefer – although thankfully it’s not one of those scary external glass-floored ones.
Visitors looking to escape the bright lights of the city should take a trip on the creek in a traditional wooden Arab dhow or head out to the desert, where a night or two spent camping under the stars in Bedouin tents will give you memories to last a lifetime, or at the very least share pictures with jealous friends on Facebook. My trip included a sunset desert safari with a company called Platinum Heritage, where we were driven out into the wilderness of the dunes in a vintage Land Rover and given the opportunity to take in the majesty of the dunes as the sun dropped below the horizon and learn about the native wildlife and desert fauna and flora from an experienced guide. Although short, it was a unique and magical journey that I will never forget.