Impossibly lush greenery, oasis-like water features and even genuine links courses are the norm for UAE golf these days, which makes this desert course surprisingly refreshing — until you miss your first fairway and have to hack your way out of the sandy stuff, of course. This golf club is embedded in a sought-after residential community which follows the desert theme, comprising more than 4,000 villas - many overlooking the course – plus swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts and a skate park. The course is a short drive away from the emirate’s relatively new theme park district if you want to swap the abject frustration of a bad round with the sheer terror of a 100-mile-an-hour thrill ride.
Designed by Ian Baker-Finch in association with Nicklaus Design, the 18-hole par-72 championship course over 7,658 yards bisects a landscape made up of striking sand dunes and rugged desert plant life, which was once occupied by grazing gazelle and camels. While the grass of the fairways and greens is flawless, a wayward shot could leave you in sandy wasteland covered in wild, indigenous shrubbery. Tees for championship, tournament, medal, society and ladies/juniors ensure all levels of golf are catered for.
Facilities and activities
An excellent par-3 nine-hole course, floodlit driving range, short game green with bunker and pitching and chipping areas with undulating surfaces make up a good range of practise facilities. The rise of footgolf has also taken hold here, with a round costing a reasonable AED85. The club also has a virtual course simulator allowing you to try a round at St Andrew’s, Pebble Beach or Pinehurst No. 2 without boarding a plane.
The 19th and beyond
The unmistakable Spanish colonial clubhouse and its sumptuous leather and dark wood features two good spots to grab some refreshment after your round. Ranches Restaurant boasts great course views, especially from the terrace, with a menu made up of English pub food including meaty stews, huge breakfasts and smaller bar snacks. Maison Mathis is a European-style cafe with a bright, minimal feel with a terrace of its own, while Birdies Sports Lounge is a great spot for some post-game happy hour beverages. Inside the clubhouse are 11 luxurious guest rooms with unbeatable views of the course and water. The club also hosts movie nights, regular events and even weddings at the waterside.
Rack rates: AED535 (Sun-Thu), AED640 (Fri-Sat), Club rental AED145 for 18 holes, AED90 for 9 holes per player.
Where: Arabian Ranches, Dubai
Contact: +971 4 366 4700, www.arabianranchesgolfdubai.com