Follow in the footsteps of greatness at the recently renovated JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort in Dubai
Its emerald fairways and zippy greens have welcomed many of golf’s greatest – from Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. And now JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort’s nine championship-standard holes are yours to play, after a facelift its director James Williams says has made the course better than ever.
JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort has been a fixture of the Middle East’s golfing scene since opening in 1998, thanks in no small part to its backing onto the luxury JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel. Back then it was designed to complement the hotel’s swathe of activities including a beach, marina, horse riding, shooting and football.
Today, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort is a varied, variegated addition to Dubai’s golf roster. Its 3,299-yard, par 36 course has challenges for all golfers, especially those with soft hands. “I would describe it not as a sloggers course but suited more to the golfer with good course management skills, accuracy and good short game,” director James Williams told us.
Williams and his team took the decision to close JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort’s greens this summer to “put something back into the course”. It was conceived by renowned architect Peter Harradine, whose designs have been played everywhere from the Seychelles to Sudan – but Williams saw a chance to improve the course even more.
Opened on September 7th, the new course includes a state-of-the-art Toro irrigation system, which will ensure “more consistent and manicured fairways and roughs,” as well as a reduced impact on the environment.
Its greens have also undergone a makeover with Dynasty paspalum grass. That will make putting even more of a challenge. “Regular guests will be very pleasantly surprised by the improved size of the greens,” said Williams. “There’s more variety of pin placements, less wear and tear. It will really improve their experience and enjoyment of the course.”
One golfer who can deal with the changes better than most is Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello. The 32-year-old from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (along with Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year, Amy Boulden and Olivia Cowan), is sponsored by JA Resorts & Hotels and has achieved two wins on the prestigious European Tour.
All three pros know the value of a tough course. Williams is sure that JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort’s latest improvements have made it an even more enjoyable challenge, no matter a player’s ability levels.
“The thought behind the design was all geared to providing a fair and achievable challenge to all levels of golfer,” he told us. “We have had many top world stars of golf play on the course but it truly is designed with the normal golfer in mind. Its average length is challenging in that fairways are quite narrow – accuracy is a premium.”
Players, therefore, must keep their eye on the ball at all times. That’s easier said than done when you have the dramatic backdrop of the Dubai skyline, the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort and an array of local fauna to look out upon. Arabian gazelle and peacocks are often seen roaming the rough, while a large lake meanders through the middle of the course, coming into play on five of its holes.
Although it’s a nine-hole course, Williams said, which is ideal for those wanting to rejoin their family after a two-hour golf break, there are several tee selections on each. That means that an 18-hole full round is well within reach. Electric carts are available, and walking is allowed.
For those who just want to knock a few balls around, the course also boasts a large, floodlit driving range, practice putting green, and chipping and bunker area. “We also have an academy tee to the side of the range for private individual and group lessons,” Williams added. “A PGA-qualified golf professional conducts the lessons.” For more golf learning there’s an indoor academy with the latest video analysis equipment.
When the game is over, though, the fun doesn’t end: JA Resorts & Hotels has been the official hotel sponsor and caterer for the famed Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai Ladies Masters since 1989. The food and drink at the hotel is renowned and worth a trip whether you’re a golf nut or not.
Williams played in that first Desert Classic in 1989 – so if anyone knows Dubai’s golfing scene it’s him. “Our guests always say they genuinely love the course for the friendly relaxed atmosphere of the staff, a fair challenge and a very pretty, well presented course at a fair price,” he said proudly. JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort has drawn some of golf’s greatest stars throughout its history. Now it’s even better than before.