Par 4 – 417 yards / 381 metres
The first hole offers a rather stress-free start to the round. A tee shot landing 260-290 yards out will come to rest in a wide portion of fairway, leaving anywhere from 80 to 130 yards in, depending on the line off the tee. The waste area and strategically-placed bunkers offer some trouble the further left one aims, so expect to see most players 100-120 yards out for their approach shot. The green defends itself with some prominent slopes, so while it will be a short approach, players need to be accurate to ensure they are not on the wrong side of a strongly breaking putt.
Par 4 – 474 yards / 433 metres
After a rather inviting introduction to the course, the Classic starts to show its character on the 474-yard second. The hole starts with an intimidating drive over a canal to a sloped fairway with strategically-placed bunkering. Most players will favour the left side, aiming for the upper portion of the fairway to be left with an approach of approximately 170 yards to the elevated green. Longer hitters may take a more aggressive line down the right side of the fairway, taking a more direct route to the green. A carry of 300+ yards is required to have comfort in this shot which often has a left to right wind. If successful, the player will be left with a wedge or less into the green, opening up a birdie opportunity. Beware an approach that misses to the right as it will see the ball dropping down a severe slope and into the bunker more than 15 feet below – making par very difficult.
While hole 2 is expected to yield many bogeys, players getting through here under par will have a great opportunity to ride that momentum and score well on the relatively soft stretch of holes 3 through 5.
Par 5 – 558 yards / 510 metres
While the 3rd hole is quite wide off the tee, players are going to need a long and well-placed tee shot to have a go at hitting the green in two shots. A drive too far to the left will be met with trouble from trees obstructing the line to the green. A tee shot too far to the right will end up in the waste area, which can sometimes be forgiving, but can also be penalising if the ball comes to rest too close to the raised lip, preventing an escape with the long iron/wood that may be required to reach the well-guarded green. The putting surface here is one of the smallest on the course and is protected by two bunkers flanking both sides at the front of the green, making players think twice before getting too aggressive on the approach. Expect many birdies to be made here.
Par 3 – 147 yards / 134 metres
The 4th is the shortest hole on the course and is expected to be one of the easiest through the week. This hole will defend itself with gusting winds, tricky pin positions near the lurking bunkers and some subtle slopes that will fool players on what are expected to be numerous birdie putts. Players will want to be leaving this green a couple of strokes under par as the Classic starts to bear its teeth in the coming holes.
Par 4 – 382 yards / 349 metres
This short par-4 is an unassuming yet potentially dangerous hole with a water hazard to the left and both bunkers and out of bounds on the right. With the fairways narrowing the closer one gets to the green, expect to see most players hitting long irons/hybrids off the tee, targeting a landing area between 230-270 yards. Club selection will be key for the approach to the elevated green that measures 35 yards deep with some aggressive slopes. Being level with the pin will offer some very makeable birdie putts.
Par 4 – 421 yards / 385 metres
A relatively unassuming hole, the 6th is an average length par-4, coming in at 421 yards. Most players will be hitting a hybrid or fairway wood off the tee in order to lay up short of the menacing bunker that lies in the right portion of the fairway, some 290 yards from the tee. A perfectly placed tee shot will be on the left side of the fairway so that the approach is unobstructed by the mounded fairway bunker. However, water lurks on the left and can be costly with a minor miscue. Players are then met with a long and narrow green that can easily be a three or four-club difference in club selection. Expect players to attack a front flag, the only position that is not heavily guarded by sand or water. Watch for some high scores when the flag is in the middle where the water cuts aggressively into the green behind the left side bunker.
Par 3 – 182 yards / 166 metres
A mid-length par-3 that offers some challenging pin positions in the mid-back sections of the green, requiring sharp distance control to be on the correct shelf with the hole. Gusting winds can wreak havoc on tee shots and deposit them in the bunker on the right side, making sand saves difficult to a green that slopes away from the player. A conservative play to the centre of the green for a standard par will be a popular play.
Par 4 – 420 yards / 384 metres
Those that are familiar with this par-4 will see the professionals playing a very different hole than members are accustomed to. For tournament week, the black competition tee will be deployed, adding some 70 yards of distance, pushing players to hit fairway wood or driver off the tee to a fairway that slopes towards several bunkers waiting on the right side. The 8th is characterised by a large green with aggressive slopes within and tightly mown run-offs on either side that make saving par difficult when players miss the green.
Par 4 – 488 yards / 446 metres
At 488 yards, and often playing into the wind, making the turn with a safe par on 9 can be a menacing proposition. If players are able to avoid the fairway bunkers and find one of the two levels of fairway, they will be left with anything from a short-iron to a fairway wood, depending on wind and flag position on the green, which is over 40 yards deep. Meanwhile, water flanks the right side for the entirety of the hole. Birdies are likely to be rare here, but could set the tone for a strong back nine.
Par 4 – 440 yards / 402 metres
Players will want to make the turn comfortably in red figures if they’re expecting to finish on the better side of level-par. Hole 10 is the beginning of what is one of the longest nine holes on the DP World Tour, measuring 3,931 yards at sea level. The 10th will be played at 440 yards with most players aiming for the right-side fairway and pushing driver as far as they can to yield a short iron in. Players will be challenged with a semi-blind approach to a large green that has three distinct shelves. Hitting the correct segment of the green will provide makeable birdie opportunities, but being on the wrong tier could easily bring bogey into the equation.
Par 3 – 231 yards / 211 metres
The 11th will be one of the hardest holes on the golf course for scoring in relation to par. Playing as long as 231 yards, this hole was softened considerably in the 2010 renovation, but remains extremely challenging with a raised and shallow green that is heavily guarded by sand. To add to the complexity, players are hitting from a tee that is sheltered by trees, making judgement of the wind to be somewhat a mystery. A par on this hole is likely going to gain strokes on the field.
Par 4 – 496 yards / 454 metres
One of the few holes that was actually shortened during the re-design, hole 12 still stretches to 496 yards and is the start of a three-hole stretch that measures nearly one mile in length. The tee shot is a nerve-wracking experience with out-of-bounds down the left side and water lurking on the right. Favouring longer hitters, the fairway is its widest at 295 yards from the tee. The second shot with a mid to long iron (perhaps more depending on the wind) is not for the faint of heart. Punishing bunkers sit short and right of the green while the depressed collection area on the left throws players a challenging up-and-down for par. Expect players to play to the centre of the green and leave happy with a par on this daunting hole.
Par 5 – 591 yards / 540 metres
The 13th is a long par-5 that is wide off the tee with a rather forgiving waste area down the left and a slope on the right side that helps tee shots collect back into the centre of the fairway. Long hitters that are hoping to reach in two shots will need to avoid the fairway bunker in the centre of the hole which sits 325 yards from the tee. From the fairway they can take their chances with a long shot from what will likely be an uneven lie to an elevated and protected green. For most, a lay-up to the flat shelf of fairway approximately 110 yards out will leave them a short wedge to dial in for their chance at a makeable birdie on a relatively flat putting surface.
Par 5 – 616 yards / 563 metres
The 14th is not only the longest hole on the course, but also has one of the narrowest fairways off the tee. Players will want to avoid bunkers on the left and the waste area on the right as getting behind a sharp lip in either may force a short pitch out and make it difficult to reach the green on the third shot. With the fairway narrowing again at 100 yards, players will be laying up to an area 100-130 yards from the green to set up for an aggressive wedge shot. If approached with patience, this hole will yield birdies through the week, but can easily be a bogey if players get too aggressive.
Par 4 – 400 yards / 366 metres
The shortest par-4 on the back nine, the 15th is another well-designed hole. Hitting driver will bring on more trouble with difficult bunkers and mounding coming into play the farther one hits. Most players will be hitting a fairway wood out to 110-130 yards from the green and let their wedges go to work. This large green is guarded by bunkers front right and back left, and a looming tree that can come into play with balls hit left of the green. This will be viewed as one of the holes to make some ground to par on the back nine.
Par 4 – 439 yards / 401 metres
The beginning of what might be the most pivotal home stretch on the DP World Tour, hole 16 is a mid-length par-4 of 439 yards that often plays into a northeast prevailing wind. Players are welcomed by a rather generous fairway off the tee, but positioning will be the key to success on the approach. The elevated approach is exposed to the elements, making spin and trajectory control important for keeping the ball close for a birdie opportunity. A gust of wind or too much spin may result in a dropped shot in the creek just short of the green. The leader will want to leave this hole with at least a two or three-shot cushion for any level of comfort coming back to the clubhouse.
Par 3 – 184 yards / 168 metres
One only needs to stand on the elevated tee at 184 yards to know why 17 may be the make-or-break hole of the tournament. While the island green is indeed rather large, it offers very little room for error. A missed green can only avoid penalty in the refuge of the bunker in the front right portion of the island. Add to this a prevailing wind that tends to be into the player and out of the left side, while potentially having the tournament on the line, and even the best players may slip up. Hitting the green does not guarantee success either. Aggressive slopes on this multi-tiered green mean that three-putts linger when you least expect it. One thing is certain – the 17th of the Classic Course will serve up plenty of drama and will impact the outcome of the tournament.
Par 5 – 534 yards / 488 metres
A rather modest finishing hole by comparison to the rest of the back nine, hole 18 will, nonetheless, be sure to offer up plenty of drama. Watch players ‘let the shaft out’ on the wide fairway of this 534-yard par-5. Most players in the field will be able to reach this hole in two shots, some with as little as a mid-iron, putting eagle within reach. However, look out for some enticing pin positions that will result in a challenging save, or worse, a penalty and possible dropped shots. The champion hoisting the trophy on Sunday will have played this hole strongly all week.