Hole #1 (Marina Bay) Par 5 - 582 yards
The longest hole on the resort course is this opening par 5. The championship tee is partly framed at its rear with views over the hotel’s harbour and is aptly named “Marina Bay”. Measuring 582 yards, this is a genuine 3-shot hole where priority should be on accuracy rather than distance from the tee. Skirted by shrubs and large eucalyptus trees, the fairway bottlenecks in the landing area – a steady three wood is recommended. The tee-shot safely negotiated, care must be taken with the second to lay up short of the lake that fronts the entire green. To avoid flirting with the water, a good play would be to leave a full short iron shot for your third and not a deft half shot.
Hole #2 (Racing View) Par 3 - 160 yards
Like all downhill par threes, the tee-shot looks exciting. Heavily guarded by bunkers left and right, emphasis should be on club selection and accuracy. Tee-shot accomplished, it is important to concentrate on a good first putt as the green slopes severely from back to front.
Hole #3 (Stables Edge) Par 4 - 375 yards
In keeping with many of the resort course holes, positioning your tee-shot is essential. Length should be sacrificed for a drive that is down the left side of this gently angled right-hand dogleg. Course architect Peter Harradine has cleverly placed a small coppice of palm trees on the right-hand side that prevents access to the green from anywhere right. The ideal tee-shot leaves a lofted approach to find a long but narrow green. After a solid par, a celebratory refreshing drink may be taken at the Oasis Lodge which waits behind this green.
Hole #4 (Jebel Ali) Par 4 - 435 yards
The fourth hole on the resort course provides a stiff test even for the most talented drivers of the ball. The narrow fairway gives no leeway to the left as out of bounds beckons. Only the perfect tee-shot is rewarded as even slightly right leaves your ball behind strategically placed palm trees and in thick rough. Distance must also be achieved especially in the afternoon as the onshore winds add many more yards to this hole. The carry to the green must clear a saltwater lake and there is no room for error with trees guarding the left rear and a large, deep bunker on the right side. The smart handicap player will respect its stroke 1 index and play short of the lake in two leaving a short iron approach. A par on this hole will always feel like a birdie.
Hole #5 (Old Gate House) Par 4 - 311 yards
A very short par 4, where the element of risk and reward is a big factor, this hole is a “course manager’s dream”. Only measuring 311 yards from the back tee, the brave golfer may feel he can throw caution to the wind and go for the green. However, like all well designed holes the penalty for not finding the green or the fairway is severe. Hit the fairway and a birdie or par should appear on your scorecard. Miss it, and a search amongst oleander, palm trees, shrubs or desert waste is guaranteed.
Hole #6 (Peacock Place) Par 4 - 359 yards
A conservative tee-shot with a touch of draw will place your ball well past the elbow of this subtle left-hand dogleg. The approach shot appears simple, however with water at the back of the green, assessment of distance and club selection should be judged to perfection. Landing the ball short of the putting surface and allowing it to run down into the middle of the green is the percentage shot.
Hole #7 (Cross Bridge) Par 4 - 374 yards
This uphill par 4 is a treat to play. Water skirting the fairway left and a large mound to the right, add a little pressure to even the most accomplished of drivers. The high handicap player should favour the right side whereas the “tiger” will always want to shorten the hole by clearing the water that eats into the fairway left side. An accurate iron should find the green but a pulled second shot for the right hander will find a sandy grave in the large mounded greenside bunker.
Hole #8 (Arabian Gulf) Par 3 - 177 yards
The ideal tee for a photograph, perched on the highest point of the course the view of the hotel, Arabian Gulf and the surrounding holes fill the golfer with the enthusiasm to play this pleasing but difficult par 3. Measuring a 177 yards its length is often deceptive – in the morning the offshore desert wind from behind enables you to hit a medium to short iron to a green some 50 meters below the teeing ground. By mid-afternoon the wind is well and truly against, and only the purest of long irons will find the target. A large salt water lake surrounding the green, desert waste and a bunker to the right make this hole a true 3-shotter.
Hole #9 (Joumana Bound) Par 5 - 526 yards Playing 18 holes
The closing hole runs parallel to the first, and is similarly a par 5. Provided you found the fairway, this hole is reachable in two solid shots. The cautious player will not find length a difficulty but must avoid the only fairway bunker on the course with his second. The two-tier green adds spice to the first putt should the flag be on the back top level. A good score should be attainable on this hole, however if disaster has struck, the view over the marina or thought of the 19th hole drink will quickly have a calming effect.
The availability of four tees creates a different aspect and playability of each hole and the opportunity to play an 18-hole round. With the wind from the Arabian Gulf turning and strengthening as the day progresses, good course management skills are tested to the full especially when playing an 18-hole round.