Saadiyat Beach: stunning and testingJanuary, 2012
This Gary Player design in Abu Dhabi is a must-play...
Opened in January 2010, this Gary Player design is the Middle East’s first beach-front golf course and hosts the annual Saadiyat Beach Classic, in which the Black Knight and several tour pros compete in a pro-am televised on Sky Sports.
The course, which is managed by Troon Golf, is stunning visually – even with the dozens of hotels being erected around some of the holes closest to the sea – and is very much a tough test when you go to the back tees and face a huge 7,806 yards.
Saadiyat has lots of protection besides its length and is littered with bunkers and hazards that look really intimidting on the tee. In reality, lots of them are not in play, but it’s hard to get that into your head when you’re stood on the tee.
Many holes stand out here, but two live longest in the memory. Number five, or Dolphin View as it is named, boasts scenery unlike any other on the course. A long par-4 that meanders right to left around crystal-blue water, it demands an arrow straight drive and a solid approach as the green is small and fast. It is very open and has views of the sea. Wind is therefore a factor.
The other stand-out hole, in my opinion, is the driveable par-4 10th known as the Mousetrap. From where visitors play it is under 340 yards and reachable if you really get hold of one, but there is a lot of risk involved as the hole is packed with cavernous bunkers on all sides meaning an iron off the tee is the best bet for anyone low on confidence or with a card to protect.
One thing I’d recommend when playing Saadiyat is to invest in a buggy as some of the scenic walks from greens to tees are very long.