Monday, September 2, 2013


The entrance to the clubhouse
With my days in Dubai winding down to a close, my dad and I made the pilgrimage to Abu Dhabi to play on a course many consider to be the best and most scenic in the Middle East.

Yas Links Golf Club is on an island called Yas Island. A 2500 hectare tourist destination, Yas Island is home to the Yas Marina Circuit, the venue of the Formula One UAE Grand Prix since 2009. There's also a Ferrari theme park (Ferrari World Abu Dhabi) and a huge water park on the island.

But we were going there to play golf and our tee-off time was booked for 6:30 AM, forcing us to leave home obscenely early at sunrise, around 5 in the mornings.

Once we reached there we were joined by a tourist from Sydney who was staying just adjacent to the course at the Raddison Abu Dhabi. He shamelessly told us that it was his wife's birthday and that he was celebrating it by sneaking out of the hotel to play golf at six in the morning.

So off we went, with the sun still not truly out and a little bit of morning mist keeping the fury of a Middle Eastern summer at bay (we would feel its true wrath later in the day with temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius).

Yas Links is a fantastic course to play on. While it is not a true links course like St. Andrew's or Muirfield, it's as close to a links course as you'll get in this part of the world.

Wildly sloping fairways, island-sized greens quick as billiard tables, acres of ugly cabbage awaiting errant tee shots, short par threes fraught with danger left and right - it's truly a golfing treat.

There weren't many holes where the brilliantly aquamarine hued water came into play but all but one of the four par threes were water-ridden.


- Our Aussie playing partner, James, is a former 3 handicapper (for those not familiar with golf, that's a stone's throw away from being a pro). It was a treat watching him play and work his way around the course.

- On the opening hole, a short 350 yard par four, I landed my approach shot four feet from the pin and went on to gleefully tap in for birdie. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't a sign of things to come. James started the same way and unlike me, it was a fitting start to a round in which he carded a three-under 69 - brilliant stuff, mate.

- My editor at the Golf Digest Middle East, Robbie Greenfield, had one piece of advice for me when I told him I was going to play at Yas Links - "Take lots of balls."

Miraculously, I played with the same ball I teed off with on the first hole, a Titleist 2, until the eighth hole where I promptly pulled a drive into the middle of the lake.
Teeing off on the par three seventeenth

- The par three seventeenth is the kind of hole that marshals will ask you at the end of your round, 'How many balls did you guys lose on 17?'

But thankfully things weren't that bad for us. While James and my dad found the deep bunkers that guarded the front of the green, my 7-iron tee shot, hit with a slight fade, was right on line. In landed softly close to the pin, rolled a little, and then inexplicably disappeared from view.

"Er-did that go in the hole boys?" I asked a few seconds later. Their murmured replies were inconclusive.

My old man hitting from the fairway
We drove our carts to the green, me thinking I've surely just hit the first ace of my life - something my dad has failed to do even once in the twenty odd years he's been playing the game. But alas, my ball wasn't sitting in the bottom of the hole but rather it lay twelve feet from it. We couldn't see it from the tee because it had rolled down a small plateau on the green.

Hole-in-one or not, it was still a memorable day of golf and I think it'll take a lot of courses around the world for me to play on before I can say I've played at a better and prettier one than Yas Links.

Parting tidbit - Click here to watch a clip of me putting for birdie ... it was such a good putt that James dropped his putter. 

1 comment:

  1. So! you didn't lose a ball to many and you had enough even after hole 17....
    By the way, who is the "old man" you were referring to.. he is just about mid fifties...
    Anyways, funny side aside, great to see you guys together, and wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.