Tiger Woods with the Dubai Desert Classic Trophy after his 2008 win.
The flagship course in the region, the Majlis golf course is a challenging par 72, 7,301-yard layout, designed by Florida-based course architect Karl Litten. The original 18 holes were built in and around the dunes of a beautiful site on the edge of the city of Dubai, donated by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on whose instructions the desert flora was maintained in its natural state.
The Majlis, the first grass course in the Middle East, has developed a reputation worldwide as a testing layout for even the best golfer, while still offering an enjoyable golfing experience to amateurs at every level. The course features hundreds of indigenous species of flora and fauna, beautifully complemented by meandering fairways and seven fresh and saltwater lakes.
The Majlis takes its name from the Arabic word for 'meeting place', and one of the most prominent features on the course is the Majlis building itself positioned between the 8th and 9th holes and a Dubai landmark since 1988.
Within a month of opening the most important regional golf tournament - the Pan-Arab Championship - was taking place on the newly named Majlis course. The Club's international recognition was confirmed in 1989 with its first European Tour event, the Dubai Desert Classic. Twenty-two years later, this tournament reaches hundreds of millions of TV screens around the world, and most of the world's top players, including Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, have taken part in what is one of the European PGA Tour's top events.
Arguably the most challenging hole on the course is the par 4, dog-leg 8th. Stroke index 3 and playing a full 434 yards, it has the unusual distinction of playing up-hill and requires a long, well directed drive to leave a reasonable second shot to its small, undulating green where the dreaded 3-putt is always a threat. The finishing holes on the Majlis are – quite literally – legendary, and have witnessed such amazing exploits as Tiger’s six birdies in eight holes to win the Desert Classic in 2008, and Colin Montgomerie’s driver from the fairway.
Course accolades include:
Top 100 Golf World Ranking 2010 and 2011
Best Course Middle East -Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2010
'Runner Up' Best Championship course Asia Pacific region- Asian Golf Monthly Awards 2010
This hole has been lengthened over the years to make it more challenging for the Tour professionals, and with a carry of just under 280 yards over the bunker on the left, and 290 yards to reach the bunker on the right, driver is the club here every time. The second shot is to an elevated green which is 28 yards deep. Always make sure to take into account the slightly uphill nature of the shot and take enough club to find yourself in the centre of the green as there are no prizes for coming up short and leaving yourself a tricky bunker shot. The green has subtle borrows but is not too challenging - putts can be holed regularly on this green. A great opening hole.
The strategy here is to hit the driver again, so any errant tee shot slightly right of the intended line will go far enough to take you past the water on the right. A great birdie chance, normally with less than 100 yards for the second shot being the norm.
The first of the par 5’s is out of reach in two shots for most mortals - a few of the longer hitters can still reach this in two shots. The driver o! the tee leaves you with a blind second over the hill towards the green. A sensible lay-up into the fairway, short of the greenside bunker, is required. By laying up at this 80-yard mark, this gives you a good opportunity to wedge the ball close to the hole for a birdie chance. This green is always tough to hole putts on due to subtle breaks.
A fantastic short hole that proves to be one of the most difficult holes on the course, year after year, with water guarding the right side of the green. Try to play for the left half of this green and let the ball come o" the slope into the middle of the green. Putting is never easy on this hole, the key being to make sure you leave yourself an uphill putt rather than a side hill or downhill putt. Be happy with a par here.
Rated the hardest hole on the course, the 5th hole requires a well-struck tee shot. The drive needs to be kept in the fairway and the temptation is to hug the tree line to shorten the hole. Try to favour the right side, taking the trees out of play, although it leaves a longer second shot. The second shot should be kept below the hole if possible to increase your chances of a two putt on this steeply sloping green.
The sixth hole, regarded by many as harder than the 5th, requires both power and accuracy - power from the tee to get you far enough down the hole so that you shorten your second shot to a very narrow green and accuracy of distance with the second to a green that is 50 yards long and very narrow across.
A real treat of a hole off the back tee. The tee shot, over an expanse of water, requires you to ensure that you do not make the cardinal sin of being short. At just under 170 yards to the front edge, the breeze has to be taken into consideration when selecting your club. The key is to try and get the ball pin high to give you the chance of a birdie putt on one of the flattest greens on the course.
With the tee box at the back, the drive to the fairway requires the ball to be hit 240 yards just to reach the short grass. The driver should be used every time here. The second shot is sharply uphill and the pin position should be taken into consideration when selecting your club. A good tip is to take one more club than you originally thought. The green is no pushover as it slopes from back to front, leaving some tricky putts to negotiate before the hole is finished.
A great hole to finish the front nine with. From the back tee, driver is the club again with the run out to the water at around 300 yards. Care should be taken to avoid the fairway bunker on the right that would prove troublesome for your second shot. Once well placed in the fairway, you should always tend to favour the right side of the green as anything finishing there leaves a relatively simple chip or putt. Any shot leaking left may end up in the water with the green’s slopes gathering the ball down to the water. Making a par on this hole is usually a relief.
A great birdie chance with a wide fairway to hit from the tee and a green reachable in two for the longer hitters. Driver should be played from the tee and then you would normally lay the ball up to a comfortable distance short of the bunkers surrounding this green so that you can attack for birdie with some aggressive wedge play. A green with subtle borrows should be studied carefully before a putt is struck.
A short hole but one that can cause problems as Ernie Els found out when he carded his only bogey here on route to his course record 61. Club selection is paramount as the green is 44 yards in depth, making it imperative that you try and get the ball pin high. A general rule of thumb on this hole is that if you hit the ball to the centre of the green, you will not be too far away! Birdies can be made here but be careful.
One of the tougher holes on the course, this hole can play more like a par 5 than a par 4. Always play the driver from this tee and try and keep it down the left side of the fairway to try and shorten the hole as much as possible. The second shot is slightly uphill to an elevated green and with a fairly long shot coming into this green; the centre is again the goal. A tricky green with 3 putts very possible at any time.
A risk reward par 5 where a brave tee shot can set up a birdie or spell disaster. A sharp dog-leg left provides an exciting driving hole for aggressive players. You can try and hit driver here and attempt to cut the corner to allow the chance of a birdie by hitting the green with the second shot. A good drive will leave around 200 yards to the green and the target would generally be anywhere on the putting surface. The safe option sees you playing right of the dog-leg and playing the hole as a true par 5. This two-tiered green is not easy to putt on if you are on the wrong level so always try to leave yourself an uphill putt on this fast green.
Another dog-leg left. Picking the line for your tee shot is key. Again, try to hit driver from the tee to make sure you get a flat lie at the bottom of the slope, which comes down from the corner of the dog-leg. A downhill lie for the second could make this a tricky hole. Once on the flat lie, it leaves a fairly easy shot to a flat green and you should really be thinking that a birdie is a good possibility from the centre of the fairway.
This par 3 may provide some real difficulties. Excitement could unfold if the pin position is back left at over 200 yards to the pin with desert just short of the putting surface. Take the yardage to the centre of the green and play for that point, favouring the right side of the green as anything left of the green leaves a tricky escape from the sandy waste, which is below the level of the putting surface.
A generous driving hole allows you to open the shoulders and hit a long one. Driver should be the club for this tee shot. A relatively simple approach shot requires the priority to be distance control and club selection. Leaving the ball in the wrong place on this green could put you in three-putt territory with several tricky slopes running through the centre of this green. You should be hopeful of a birdie on this hole but not disappointed with par.
A hole that can be played in different ways. You can have a go at the green with your driver if you are long enough and push hard for your birdie or try the conventional route of hitting the ball down the fairway, relying on a good wedge shot and making birdie that way. Make sure your tee shot is accurate - a second shot from the rough or sandy waste will prove tricky.
All great golf courses feature a great finishing hole, and this is one to Compare with the best. A birdie here will bring a marvelous climax to any round, but a par is always satisfying. With the fairway turning left 90 degrees, cutting the corner is a temptation difficult to resist, even if your best drive may still leave the green well out of reach. The second shot needs concentration to lay the ball up at your favourite distance. Be sure to clear the water with your third and enjoy the green that has seen great finishes to the Dubai Desert Classic over the years.