How we decided who went where in our benchmark ranking of the finest golf courses in the Middle East.
It’s one of the few areas in the world that has plenty of active course construction and already has lots of names that you will be familiar with…but no-one has undertaken a ranking of Middle East golf to this extent before.
So we are breaking ground with this first list of the region’s elite courses.
And thanks to one of the strongest panels we have ever assembled, we are very confident about the credibility, merit and worthiness of this inaugural Middle East list.
While there is nothing to compare it to in terms of courses that are higher or lower than is the norm for them, it does still contain plenty of what we think will be regarded as surprises, because we are never shy to go against the grain.
That means some big-name venues don’t do quite as well as they might be expected to, and some lesser-known courses are placed sufficiently high to raise eyebrows.
The whole region is covered assiduously, and when you get to the top five you’ll understand what I mean by that; this is certainly not a shuffling together of the courses in traditional Middle East golf powerhouses Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
One final point: as you will note from the panel (see below), there is clearly potential for conflict of interest and bias when a general managers assesses their own course. But while everyone was permitted to include their own course in their list, it was robustly taken into account when assimilating the views. In any case, in two instances the reverse scenario admirably occurred, with the GM ranking their own course lower than the rest of the panel.
How we ranked the Middle East’s best courses
Chaired by NCG courses and travel editor Chris Bertram, who has played 19/25 courses in the list, we assembled an exceptional panel ranging from architects to club managers and tour operators to club golfers, with the common link a vast knowledge of the region’s courses.
They ranked and commented on each course they had played – the average was 16/25 – and their assessments were assimilated to produce the ranking.
The key members of the panel
Stephen Hubner (Jumeirah Golf Estates), Howie Roberts (Yas), Jeremy Slessor (EGD), Gary Johnston (EGD), Elliott Gray (Dubai Hills/Arabian Ranches), Phil Henderson (Al Zorah), Clinton Norris (Saadiyat/ADGC), Mark Chapleski (Troon), Chris Dodd (Ayla), Graham Davies (Go Desto Dubai), Steve Thomas (club golfer), James Williams (Emirates), Chris White (Ayla).