The few days we were in Dubai in December coincided with some seasonal early morning fog. It caused delays at the airport, and slowed down some drivers (no bad thing), but meant that for our early morning tee-off time (0730) we saw this attractive golf course gradually emerge from the mist.
Service and a warm welcome are guaranteed – the property and golf course is managed by Troon Golf which operates or has developed over 185 golf properties in 20 countries. In addition, because the course has a 23-room boutique hotel attached to it, it’s a great place to stay for a golfing breaks, or one where you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy being surrounded by greenery and a lot of water.
The clubhouse is relaxed with a good sports bar to help relax either before or after a round and the pro shop is a fair Aladdin’s cave of logo’d golf attire. We had an agreeable breakfast in the clubhouse before tee off. As with all the Dubai golf venues I have visited, the staff are friendly and helpful and able to work around for last minute issues: fog, hiring sets of golf clubs and plenty of golf balls necessary for this watery venue.
No course in Dubai is old, of course, but the Montgomerie, which opened in 2006, has had over a decade to settle in, and perhaps more importantly, for many of the surroundings houses and villas to have been completed. It means that not only have the trees and bushes reached maturity – both in terms of screening some developments, but also to add interest to the course, but also you do not have a constant view – and possible noise – of cranes and construction work.
The course was designed by Colin Montgomerie in association with Desmond Muirhead. It covers 265 acres which consist of 123 acres of turf, 49 acres of man-made lakes (a total of 14 lakes), 93 acres of landscaped gardens and 81 large bunkers.
You can experience flyovers of all the holes at its excellent website.
Our view of the course was slightly unusual, and not just because of the fog. We played the back nine first, and so arguably had some of the most stunning holes in our first two hours, although as the fog burned off they all seemed pretty impressive.
Muirhead was apparently known for having a sense of humour when designing courses and the par 3 thirteenth was even designed in the shape of the UAE. It has a 360 degree teeing area around an island green, allowing for a completely different golf hole to be played every time. This may sound a bit contrived but the quality of the greenery and the overlooking half way house make this a memorable set piece.
The course is immaculate and is constantly being attended to which being in a desert near the sea is important. There are several other memorable holes and consistent for all of them are beautiful, firm, true and tricky greens with thoughtful run off areas though nothing designed to break the average golfer’s spirit.
On this back nine we noticed a hand-shaped bunker protecting the green on the 17th, and perhaps the best hole is the par 5 eighteenth – some 656 yards with water protecting the front of the green, it defies even the best player to hit the green in two. In fact water is in play for just about each shot except for your putt.
Having made the turn and now playing the front nine in sunshine, I’d recommend the par 5 fourth (“the Snake hole” because of its saddleback fairway which doglegs towards the green, with two bunkers behind forming the eyes of the snake).
Further on, the par 5 ninth, with water down the left, is a tough finish to the opening half and in fact the end of our round. We retired to the clubhouse and had a lovely lunch.
We enjoyed the round at the Montgomerie. In a sense we were unlucky what with the fog, playing the back nine first (because of previous bookings) and some essential maintenance meaning several holes were cart path only. Golfers can easily get spoilt in Dubai and the choices are expanding, however the Montgomerie remains a great destination.