My good friend Robert Wells suggested we tee up on a spring Thursday at Al Badia Golf Club. From our hotel, the Address Downtown Dubai, it was a short drive to Wellsie’s home course. I met Robert about a year ago while I was a solo player at the Montgomerie Dubai. We hit it off from the start, and I enjoyed play with him and his wife, Brenda. Joining us this time was Global Traveler Advisory Board member Wayne Tallman. It was a glorious day to play, with a perfect temperature and blue skies.
Wellsie said Al Badia means “land of the Bedouins” — and if you saw how our shots wandered the course, the name makes sense. The Robert Trent Jones II course has many water hazards and what the designer calls rivers of sand. Jones sculpted the bunkers to allow golfers to recover errant shots without significant penalty. He faced some challenges in designing and building the course. By selecting paspalum grass, he was able to use sea water and treated waste water to appease the turf ’s need of fluids. Indigenous plants offer a truly unique Arabian experience. The course opened in 2005 as the Four Seasons Golf Club Dubai Festival City, but soon after, the InterContinental took it over.
The clubhouse design takes in the Bedouin tradition; some say it looks like swirling sand, while others feel it resembles a golf swing. Either way, find a friend, tee up and experience the hospitality of the region.
Hole 1 | 408 yards, par 4
There were a few “breakfast balls” off the tee, but I was able to slam a ball with my regular right fade on the fairway. Wayne was still recovering from being under the weather the day before and struggled through the round. The ideal tee shot is to land on the right side; be careful, as an out of bounds is easily reached. My approach was absolutely lousy, blading to the right side of the green. A fortunate chip and a one-putt helped me card a par.
Hole 3 | 224 yards, par 3
I scored a bogey, with difficulty. A lake runs the entire left side of the hole and comes around the back of the green. My tee shot was comical, and I landed on the ladies’ tee box. My next shot landed in the right trap, but a decent up and down and one-putt saved me. Wellsie and Brenda secured par and bogey, respectively. Wayne was less respectful to Al Badia.
Hole 5 | 632 yards, par 5
Here is Al Badia’s most difficult hole. Unless you have a combined genetic code of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, you’ll take three significant shots to make the green in regulation. The perfect tee shot lands between bunkers on the left and the lake on the right. I took another route by “hoseling” my drive low and fast, using the cart path for added distance to settle well short of Brenda. The rest of the team had decent drives … except Wayne, who thought it was time for his ball to take a swim. My next shot was a gamble: With nothing to lose, I pounded my 3-wood over the stream that crosses the fairway, barely keeping dry. Brenda had some tricks up her sleeve and nailed the concrete bridge abutment, landing precariously close to the water. It was a sight to see, and she reminded us after the game that she used the same ball the entire round. Wells kept steady, carding a par; I overshot the green and secured a bogey, not bad for an awful drive.
Hole 9 | 444 yards, par 4
Admire the beautiful views of the clubhouse and the waterfall to the right of the green. The fairway has bunkers on the left and water along the right. Wellsie warned, “Aim toward the two traps on the left; lots of balls enter the water.” I took his advice and landed middle of the fairway, not strong but accurate. Wells bounced off the bank of the pond into “Davey Jones’ locker.” After my magnificent shot, 170 yards to the center of the green, I strutted like a peacock, to Wellsie’s amazement. Brenda and Wayne quietly and methodically carded bogeys and I two-putted for par. Wells was ready for me on the next hole — he was not going to let me beat him on his home course.
Hole 10 | 386 yards, par 4
I carded a 41 on the front and was playing at the top of my game with astounding recoveries. But here at the turn, Wellsie and Brenda sprang their evil plan, suggesting a beer to quench my thirst. The wheels came off while my guests turned their game against me.
Hole 10 is not difficult; it features a wide landing area, which I hit while avoiding the right bunkers. A series of poor shots followed, and I carded a double bogey. Wayne favored the left of the fairway for a regulation landing on the green for par.
Hole 13 | 598 yards, par 5
The tee shot on this No. 2 ranked hole should not pose any danger; it looks narrow but widens to a generous fairway. The second shot, however, requires accuracy. Favor the right but watch for the river of sand looping from the right of the fairway all the way to the green. The card never lies, and there were some high scores. I felt like “high-fiving” Wellsie when we both landed a bogey.
Hole 15 | 217 yards, par 3
Aim left of this green; the prevailing wind comes at you but slightly left. These winds are strong enough to push your ball into the water right of the green. Bogey is a good score, and I secured that while Brenda blew past us with par. Wayne was still under the weather.
Hole 18 | 538 yards, par 5
Al Badia’s signature hole has sweeping views of the waterfalls, clubhouse and the beautiful skyline of Sheikh Zayed Road. The hole is shaped like a horseshoe, and I felt a stampede coming. The big boys tee up and let it fly, cutting off as much as possible. We regular folks aim for the fat part of the fairway straight ahead. Since my “A” game left, I took the cautious route and made the hole longer when I landed right. Wells dribbled past the ladies’ tee and recovered with a fine shot to the fairway. We made our way around the horseshoe to the green, galloping as if we were at the World Cup. After doing battle with the finishing hole, we had a well-deserved lunch in the clubhouse to celebrate our victories and lick our wounds.
Al Badia Golf Club
InterContinental Dubai Festival City
United Arab Emirates
tel 971 4 60 10 101
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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