Holes9 / 18
The Els Club, managed by Troon Golf, is one of those rare courses that is loved by all who play it. Recreational players enjoy the wide open spaces and the manicured playing surfaces, while the pros love the challenge of the approach shots to greens that roll like carpets and offer everything from steep drop-offs to subtle breaks.
Ernie Els has twice lifted the Claret Jug and the hallmarks of the ancient Open Championship links courses are present on his Dubai design. It would be wrong to say that the Els Club plays like a links, but it’s easy to see where the South African got his inspiration from on holes like six and nine. Come up a little short on either of these approach shots and you’ll watch your ball wander into deep swales that bear comparison with St Andrews’ famous Valley of Sin.
The Els Club has among the best greens in Dubai. Clever bunkering and numerous run-offs guard against all but the most well-struck iron shots, and it will take one or two rounds here before you learn which pin placements to avoid. Holes like the first and the 16th feature distinct tiers with extreme breaks, but often putting here comes down to deciding between fine margins. Is it right edge or a ball outside? One thing is certain, if you hit your putt on line, it will go in.
Framed by the warm colours of its Mediterranean style clubhouse, the panoramic views of the course from the terrace will seldom show a blade of grass out of place. Those who appreciate life’s finest pleasures will embrace this true gem.