Dubai has long since emerged as one of the world’s premier golfing destinations, and europeantour.com took a look behind the scenes at the latest jewel in this desert crown with the help of current Challenge Tour Number One Andrea Pavan, as it welcomes a 44 strong field to the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club.
Designed by esteemed architect Robert Trent Jones II, this oasis themed championship layout measures 7,333 yards from the back tees, and makes use of an abundance of lakes, rivers and sand to test even the most talented of players.
There is also a plethora of local flora and fauna lining the fairways throughout, offering a diversity of view from many of the tees, as well as aiding in the creation of a desert paradise in amongst the skyscrapers, restaurants and malls of the Dubai Festival City in which it is located.
At its heart, and making for a spectacular centre piece to the venue, is also a stunning clubhouse. Made to resemble the cylindrical nature of the golf swing, the structure is visible from almost any point on the course and provides amazing views of the both the golf and Dubai’s ever impressive skyline, which is of course dominated by the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
The man at the summit on the Challenge Tour, Pavan, is looking forward to the test that Al Badia Golf Club is set to pose, and he believes that if the wind gets up this is a layout that could test the players. However, without its main defence, the generous fairways could make for a few lower scores.
“The course is quite straight forward, we played in practice and there was a bit more wind so a few of the holes played pretty long. Off the tee there are a few testing shots with some water in play, but a few others that are a bit wider.
“In general it is not very tight, but the greens are not very big and roll nicely, with some good slopes, so it depends on the wind, but it should be a very scoreable course.
“The wind will make it more difficult if it gets up, especially in the afternoon as it seems quite dead in the morning. Also, if you miss the greens the rough is quite tricky as it is quite grainy, but because the greens are small if you hit them then you will probably have a good birdie chance.
“The par threes, the 15th and the third, are both long tee shots, especially the third if they put the tee right back. The course is not short, but some holes play it, but there are also two very long par fives that no one will be able to hit in two.
"All in all there isn’t any great advantage to the long hitters here as it is not very tight, so it is about hitting your irons close and holing putts.”
This week’s venue is somewhat of an unknown quantity to the players, but with plenty to play for, the 44 man field will all be looking to master this new venue, and it should make for interesting viewing as the tournament unfolds over the four days.