Tee off in the sand at Al Ghazal

The Al Ghazal Golf course has an exclusive teaching academy for the novice

FANCY a game of golf in the desert? Why not tee off on the sand? The Al Ghazal Golf Course (AGCC) provides adventurers looking for something novel just such an option.

Owned and managed by Abu Dhabi Duty Free, the AGGC is regarded as the leading desert golf course in the world, says a spokesperson. Located next to Abu Dhabi International Airport and opened in November 1997, Al Ghazal’s 18-hole, par-71 sand course presents an exciting challenge to both the novice and the experienced golfer.
For visitors or transit passengers, all equipment can be rented, making it easy to play a round (or two) between flights; the club is located five minutes from the international terminal, where transit visas and transport can all be arranged at the airport.
The sand course may seem a little unusual to many visitors; instead of ‘greens’ there are ‘browns’. These are created by compacting rolled and treated sand, and – as players quickly discover – they provide an extremely true putting surface. The front nine holes (par 35) are played on an archaeological site which, thousands of years ago, was the original Abu Dhabi coastline; the back nine (par 36), have been constructed on flatter reclaimed land. In addition to the customary hazards of water and the rough, players must also contend with occasional burrows dug by desert lizards known as dhubs!
A European style, hilltop clubhouse (edged by a large terrace with room for up to 200 guests), a swimming pool and tennis courts and an advanced training facility, all complement the club’s high standards and exclusivity. The Club is also home to the Fusion Cuisine restaurant, with live music and an extensive beverage list.
For travellers interested in working on their golfing technique, the Teaching Academy features the most advanced and innovative golf teaching technology in the world. The Academy has installed a Royle Golf Visual Communication System, through which golf swings can be professionally assessed on monitors, says the spokesperson. This enables students to compare their swings with those of some of the game’s greatest players. The system is complemented by ‘Durnian Frames’ – specially designed metal frames by which golfers can perfect their swing plane by following the line of the frame.
The frames are housed in a new building which also contains the men’s and ladies changing rooms, a new club repair workshop, a club trial and demonstration centre where you can try out all the latest brands on the driving range before purchase, as well as the coffee shop on the first floor.
Adjacent to the Academy is a 30-bay floodlit grass driving range and practice chipping and putting areas, both grass and sand, where golfers can hone their skills. The Academy has a club repair and fitting centre offering a wide range of services, including re-gripping, re-shafting of wooden and metal heads, swing weighting and shortening and lengthening of clubs. Plans are already well advanced for the construction of the nine-hole, par-35 floodlit grass course, expected to open in 2007.
The club is also home to the Abu Dhabi Football Academy and the Abu Dhabi Rugby Club, operated by professionals sanctioned by the International Rugby Board Consortium and the UEFA, European Football Association respectively.