In our latest look back at the history of golf in the Middle East, we dive into the unique Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club with the help of David Burns, who was first introduced to the the region in 1967 when he was on his way to join a military unit in Singapore.
The aircraft he was flying on lost an engine en route and they ended up landing in Sharjah, where he spent a week with the Solomon Scouts. After leaving the army in the 70s, he moved to Abu Dhabi to join Spinneys before working across the GCC for next 35 years.
Here, he talks us through how golfers would play the weird and wonderful Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club before they installed browns.
“Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club was a joy to behold,” said Burns. “If you could imagine, you had a tee box and the golf course was in the dunes, so it changed daily with the wind. The boys in the morning would go out, and they would find a flag, a whole flag and they would put a tyre around it. So the tyre was on the surface and you would chip into the tyre, and that was like putting out! The course had no browns, it was literally a tyre.
“It was funny, a really wonderful and weird experience. But there were no fairways, there were a couple that a few people had sort of taken a bulldozer to, but there was nothing that you would call a fairway and they got covered with sand anyway. So, you played in the dunes off the sand, you could play them with a piece of green grass or your astroturf.
“And then just when you got somewhere near to the to the flag you chipped in. Sometimes the flags would be buried completely, the dunes would just blow over. So, you would put another tyre down, and sometimes the sand dunes would expose tyres that had been there for years. So, the course was different every time you played it. That was cute and very cool.”