By Jordan Smith

I was lucky enough to visit the newly renovated course at Arabian Ranches last month, just four days after it had re-opened following a five month closure, during which it had undergone some major changes.

I caught up with Sean Kinsley, Director of Agronomy, Emaar Hospitality Group, who talked me through some of the work that they had done on the course. Sean and I walked a few holes and he explained how all 18 greens were resurfaced using new grass. Previously the greens were TifEagle Bermuda surfaces, which suffered very significant encroachment from unwanted turf types, so the club decided to convert the surfaces to Platinum Paspalum, which had been flown in from Georgia, USA in refrigerated containers and planted around 20 weeks ago.

Walking the course, I was mesmerised by the condition of the greens and couldn’t believe how pure they were rolling despite being so new, which got me thinking ahead to how good the course will be in six months when the greens continue to mature. As expected, the putting surfaces weren’t super quick yet as they are still immature, and Sean advised that because of this they were not at the final cut length. However, the undulation in some of the greens made the surface feel a lot quicker when putting down the different tiers.

GREAT TEST OF GOLF

The renovation of the greens has opened up more space for a variety of different pin positions, which had previously been hampered by the unwanted encroachment on the previous TifEagle Bermuda greens, because, as certain areas suffered, the choice of pin positions became limited. Now that they have been successfully resurfaced, the club has the ability to make the pins easy for everyday golfers or tuck them away to a championship standard with more difficult locations. The course itself remains a great test of golf. The desert style links is a really fun course to play. It’s rewarding off the tee, but you can be left with tricky approach shots into the putting surfaces if you stray off the preferred line with the driver. All 18 holes are solid, a real challenge throughout. There are no particular weak holes that stand out. The two holes that impressed me the most were the 9th and the 13th. The 9th hole is a great long par-4 to a contoured green with stunning views of the clubhouse in the background while the 13th is a fun par-5 that twists and turns before ending on a brilliant amphitheatre-like green. The bunkers on the course are consistent throughout with compact sand leading to crisp strikes.

Worldwide Golf’s Jordan Smith thoroughly enjoyed the newly renovated Arabian Ranches Golf Club experience.

I particularly enjoyed many of their designs with the way they often cut the lip against the edge of the greens. This means that if a hole is tight towards the edge of the a bunker, you could potentially over-hit a putt and enter a trap. Some of the bunkers have a nice links feel with firegrass surrounding the lips. It was interesting to find out that all bunkers are deemed as ‘waste’ areas, which means if you ground your club in any of the bunkers it’s not deemed a penalty.

CLEAR IMPROVEMENTS

I spoke with some Finnish visitors who were plotting their way around the course, and having previously played back in January, they were shocked at the improvements, saying the difference was ‘unbelievable’. It’s impressive to think that this huge renovation took place during the challenging summer months when the conditions are far from ideal, but the outcome is definitely worth the effort. In addition to the course, major re-shaping and re-grassing has taken place on the driving range, which has seen it take a big step forward in terms of presentation. With the vast improvements it is clear that Arabian Ranches Golf Club is really trying to move forward. With the support from the Troon International Corporate Team, the results they have achieved so far speak for themselves. Sean advised that they are continuing to work on all aspects of the presentation and playability of the golf course, and that so far the feedback on the new greens from members and visiting parties has been fantastic. So why not book a tee time and see for yourself?

 

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