The world's best new golf course?

The new Dubai Hills golf course in Dubai offers stunning views of the city’s skyline.

The new Dubai Hills golf course in Dubai offers stunning views of the city’s skyline.

When a golf course is created by Emaar Properties (in a joint venture with holding company Meraas), the Dubai-based real estate company whose portfolio includes the world’s tallest building, you know it’s likely to be a no expense spared creation fit to rival some of the country’s finest layouts. 

“Our brief was to design a course that would emulate the best features of their current courses, but with an extra ‘wow factor,” says Gary Johnston, of Berkshire-based European Golf Design. Meeting that brief meant moving a million cubic metres of desert earth to create amphitheatrical fairways, developing six man-made lakes and creating a course of great variety that golfers of all abilities will find playable but challenging. 

With broad fairways and sprawling green complexes, Dubai Hills is less intimidating than some of Dubai’s best-known courses. Just a few months after opening, the course record sits at an 11-under par 61, set during the Dubai Open, the lowest ever score in the eight-year history of the Mena Tour. 

That’s not to say Dubai Hills is a pushover. Undulating greens will see plenty of three-putts, while 83 strategically placed bunkers mean you’ll do very well to get through 18 holes without getting sand on your soles. There are risk-reward decisions to be made on many holes, including a couple of drivable par 4s. It’s a hugely enjoyable test of golf, rewarding good decisions and shots, while punishing the opposite without ever feeling unfair. There are superb views of downtown Dubai’s impressive skyline, not least on the par-5 5th, where the Burj Khalifa is a good aiming point off the tee. 

Dubai Hills has been nominated for World’s Best New Golf Course, UAE’s Best Golf Course and Dubai’s Best Golf Course in the World Golf Awards 2019, which will be announced in October. Considering the previous two winners of Best New Course were Adare Manor and West Cliffs, the nomination alone is something to be proud of, while the crown of Dubai’s Best Golf Course would place Dubai Hills ahead of Emirates GC, home of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and Jumeirah Golf Estates, host of the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship. 

Green fees start at around £80.

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Nick Wright