Think of golf holidays outside the UK and naturally, your thoughts will probably be turning towards the United States or somewhere warm in the Mediterranean like Andalucia in Spain. However, one part of the world that is becoming increasingly attractive for golfers from across the globe is the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular.
If you’ve never considered Dubai golf holidays before, then there’s plenty to explore and choose from before you go. This guide highlights some of the most popular courses, and key things to plan ahead for the golf trip of a lifetime.
Is Dubai good for golf?
With warm weather all year round, and the ability to play by both day and night, Dubai offers a unique chance to play on lush fairways and greens surrounded by desert. There are now at least ten separate golf clubs in Dubai, some of which are backed by the biggest names in the professional game. Dubai is also a relatively small place geographically, meaning every course is easily reachable by car and making it easy to play multiple courses in one trip.
Combine that with Dubai’s status as a luxury holiday destination, full of world-class hotels, activities and food options, and you’ll see that Dubai has plenty to offer, both on and off the courses.
How much does a round of golf in Dubai cost?
Green fees for 18-hole rounds of golf in Dubai vary significantly, for two main reasons: the prestige of the course, and the time of the year. The lowest prices tend to be found from June to September, when the hot summer weather can make daytime play particularly uncomfortable. December to March, when the weather is comfortably warm in Dubai but generally very cold in Europe, tends to be the most popular and therefore most expensive period.
Expect to pay around £80 for a round at the bottom end of the market (which will still be a very good course by global standards), and more than £200 for the most sought-after courses and tee times.
Which courses are best for golf holidays in Dubai?
The selection of courses in Dubai means there really is something for every type of golf player. To help you find a course that’s right for you, we’ve picked out three of our favourites:
If you want a course with prestige: Emirates Golf Club (Majlis Course)
For many people, golf in Dubai means the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club. Opened in 1988, it was the Middle East’s first championship-standard all-grass course and every year since 1989 it’s hosted the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour (which Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have won twice each).
According to our research into the world’s best golf courses, the Majlis ranks seventh overall and is the world’s best outside the UK, the US and Australia. If you want to walk in the footsteps of the greats, and admire the Dubai skyline at the same time, it’s well worth the often hefty green fee.
If you want a challenge: The Els Club
Any course designed by two-time Open winner Ernie Els was always going to provide a test for every type of player. The South African’s design has got a bit of everything: testing approaches reminiscent of a links course, large and open fairways, smooth rolling greens, and perfectly prepared playing surfaces. A luxury clubhouse and spa perfectly complement what many believe to be the ultimate all-round golfing experience.
If you want to play night golf: Trump International Par 3
Dubai’s warm climate and no-expense-spared attitude to development means that there’s plenty of opportunity to play nine quick par-three holes after dark. Our pick of the options (whatever you may think of the man behind the name!) is the short course at the Trump International Golf Club, which opened in 2017.
The course was designed by Gil Hanse, who developed the course in Rio on which Justin Rose won 2016 Olympic gold. It’s challenging for a par-three course with plenty of undulations, and copious floodlighting means visibility is great. With tee times available until nearly 9pm, it’s a great way to end whatever day you have planned.
Do you need a handicap to play golf in Dubai?
No. Unless you’re travelling to take part in a specific competition, there is no particular requirement to have an official handicap to play on any of the courses in Dubai. Obviously, as with courses anywhere else in the world, you will be expected to observe local course rules and normal golf etiquette.
What else should you consider before you go?
On top of general golf holiday advice, there are plenty of things outside of golf to remember about travelling to Dubai. One important consideration is that it’s officially a ‘dry’ country and alcohol tends to be restricted to hotel bars and restaurants. If you’re expecting a drink at the 19th hole, check with your chosen course in advance.
Accommodation and flight options to Dubai are plentiful, but travelling with your golf clubs can add extra complexity and expense. Make sure you factor this into your budget when choosing which airline to fly with.
At the time of writing (autumn 2022), the United Arab Emirates was one of a few countries still with COVID-19 restrictions in place for incoming travellers. Make sure you check before making any bookings to ensure that you have sufficient vaccinations to enter the UAE, or if you need to arrange a test prior to travel.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
For any Dubai golf holidays, comprehensive insurance cover is essential, and that’s because you never know what might go wrong. For example, you might have an accident or be injured, you might cause injury to someone else with a stray ball, your travel plans might be disrupted, or your clubs and luggage might be lost or damaged in transit.
SportsCover Direct’s golf travel insurance policies cover all of these eventualities and more, and are available over flexible payments at competitive rates. We not only provide a travel insurance policy for playing golf overseas, but we also provide a Golf Insurance policy for playing in the UK.