With the lockdown restrictions being relaxed, Worldwide Golf’s Jordan Smith headed over to Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman to see what the current situation is and find out what precautions are in place to ensure it’s safe for golfers to go and enjoy a round of golf whilst keeping their health a priority.
By Jordan Smith
Up on arrival at the golf club, the staff checked every player’s temperature and recorded it on a document where you had to fill in your name and the date. Gloves and medical face masks had to be worn at all times inside the clubhouse. Once checked in, you can pay for your round in the pro shop with card only. The Club will not accept cash during this period, another safety procedure they have in place.
Al Zorah are offering 18 holes at a rate of 395 AED. The good news is that there is an Entertainer offer available if you book it in advance. The bad news is the 2-4-1 only saves you around 50 AED in reality as the Entertainer price is based on the full rack rate.
Initially, we tried to book a three-ball. However, the club advised that they had hit the 30% maximum capacity, therefore we were only permitted to book a two-ball. We arrived at the ‘buggy shed’ to find two separate golf buggies – one for each of us. The staff advised us that all buggies had been fully sanitized, as well as informing us that no printed scorecards would be allowed during this period. This is no problem as the golf buggies have a digital scorecard that you can fill in and forward to your email once the round is finished.
I was surprised at how empty the clubhouse felt; from arriving in the car park to setting off to the first tee, we didn’t see any other players. It was quiet – it didn’t have the usual buzzing atmosphere you’d feel if you were going to the first tee in normal circumstances. The 30% capacity gave it an empty, but safe, feel.
The driving range was closed and the putting green flags were removed. You could have a chip and putt prior to teeing off but you couldn’t warm up the big dogs, which was scary after such a long period in isolation, but I certainly wasn’t complaining at being out there in the fresh air surrounded by the beautiful topography and greenery.
On course, a medical face mask has to be worn at all times. The other players passing by in their buggies were all adhering to the rules, which was an encouraging sign. The only bad side was that you couldn’t tell if they had a smile on their face and were enjoying their round or not!
Further on course precautions included: no rakes in any of the bunkers, pins had to be left in the hole and there were sponges in the bottom of the cups to ensure the balls didn’t fall far down and could be easily retrieved. The sand bucket attached to the golf buggies had been removed, which meant you had to go the old-fashioned route – collect your divots and stamp them back into position.
The course itself was in superb condition, you could tell the fairways and tees hadn’t been in play for some time and had recovered nicely. The greens were running fast and true, but weren’t a true reflection of the pace from the practice green, which could catch out some players. The course was playing firm, both fairways and greens. This was great news in regards to your tee shot as you gained some extra yardage – but approaching the greens could be challenging if the pins were in a tricky spot and keeping the ball on the undulated putting surfaces proved to be a challenge.
With a strong breeze coming from the west coast, it probably wasn’t the best idea playing the course off the back tees on the first round back but it was a certainly great to get back out there!