With the opening last month of Yas Links, Abu Dhabi’s latest new golf course, traditional links-style golf has arrived in the United Arab Emirates, according to course designer Kyle Phillips.
“What makes Yas Links so intriguing is how traditional it is, because nothing like it has ever been attempted before in the UAE,” said Phillips. “There are a lot of very good courses in the UAE but up until now there hasn't been anything that would feature on a golf connoisseur’s must play list.”
Phillips has made a dozen trips to the site since February 2007, overseeing the construction details. Presented with a flat desert wasteland devoid of vegetation, Phillips created a dunescape which he reckons evokes a Scottish links flavour. “It was a tough challenge and we had to work out where we could find the material to build the landforms necessary to create a true, traditional-style links course. We also had to take great care in preserving the ecology and every aspect of the course design took this into account,” he said. “Any good golf course has to have a big finish, and I believe the three closing holes at Yas Links are three of the best closing holes of any course in the world I know.”
Yas Links is situated on Yas Island, a major sport and entertainment development created by local firm Aldar, 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi's city centre. The course measures 7,394 yards from the back tees. Eight holes hug the coastline and 109 bunkers to negotiate along with shifting winds. Five of the last six holes play along the sea. Paspalum grass on all the playable areas should allow for firm and fast surfaces all year round.