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How to play golf in Qatar

All the information you need for the perfect round on Qatar’s golf courses, by Joy Chakravarty

Having won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters once and finishing runner-up three times in five years, Henrik Stenson knows a thing or two about playing golf in the country.

“Wind!” The Swede is emphatic when asked what’s best about playing golf in Qatar. “Lots of wind!”

“I love playing in Doha. Depending on the conditions, the golf course can play in several different ways. There have been times when I’ve hit a sand wedge into the green in one round, and a 4-iron the very next day. If you ask me, I feel wind is probably the greatest test of skill for any golfer.”

The 2016 Open Champion played all his golf in Qatar at the Doha Golf Club, which became the first green golf course in the country when it opened in 1998. A second green course was added to the portfolio in 2019 – the 33-hole Education City Golf Club.

How to play golf in Qatar
How to play golf in Qatar

The José María Olazábal-designed course was conceptualised with the objective of growing the game. Situated in Education City, it’s nestled amid eight universities and several schools, making it a perfect nursery for the game in Qatar. The club has an 18-hole Championship course (which has hosted the last two Qatar Masters on the European Tour), a floodlit, six-hole course with seven different tees on each hole, and a floodlit, nine-hole par-3 course, as well as world-class coaching facilities.

Apart from the two grass courses, there are also two sand courses in the country — Dukhan Golf Club in the oil town of Dukhan on the western coast, and the Mesaieed Golf Club, around 30 miles south of Doha — providing a very different experience to the fans.

A sand course, as the name suggests, is devoid of any grass. The fairways are desert, and the greens are called ‘browns’ — a mixture of sand of oil that’s compacted and rolled. Players carry their own piece of astroturf. If they’re in the areas marked as fairways, they can place the ball on the turf and hit their next shot from it. You err slightly, and you’ll be playing the long-range bunker shots all day.

The Peter Harradine-designed Doha Golf Club is a true desert-style course and has a very natural, barren setting. On the other hand, Education City is a modern, strategic course, built around 12 man-made lakes, and possesses a lot more vegetation.

The Doha Golf Club is closer to the Arabian Gulf, not far from the stunning The Pearl Qatar development, on slightly elevated and more exposed terrain. That probably explains why it gets more windy, compared to Education City.

As the legendary South African player Ernie Els says, it’s all about getting your angles right from the tees at Doha Golf Club.

“There are a lot of doglegs — actually, a lot of angles and not genuine doglegs. You’ve got to move the ball left‑to‑right and right‑to‑left.  A lot of courses, you move it one way, but you have to move it both ways in Doha. Driving the ball is key as conditions get quite tough and the wind can test your game,” says the four-time major champion, winner of the 2005 Qatar Masters.

The driveable par-4 16th hole is a big favourite of players at Doha Golf Club, setting up a thrilling finish after two of the toughest holes on the course, the par-4 14th and 15th.

The club is currently undergoing renovations, with new green complexes being made. Members are still allowed to play on temporary greens. It’s expected that the 25th edition of the Qatar Masters next year will return to the club that hosted it for first 22 years.

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Book your tour at Education City Golf Club

Set in the heart of Education City, the club offers a sporting and recreational experience that you'll find truly welcoming and inclusive. Featuring nine lakes, a unique riverbed theme, and spectacular views over the city and West Bay, the course will not only test your golf but will also provide you with an awe-inspiring, visually pleasurable experience that will leave you wanting more.

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The Education City course has wider fairways, but unleashing your driver off the tee isn’t always the best idea. There are a lot more bunkers, and nine of the 12 lakes are part of the Championship course.

However, the key to doing well is a strong short game. Known for his immaculate skills on and around the greens, Olazabal has demanded a similar prowess from those playing on his creation.

Michael Braidwood, general manager of the Education City Golf Club, says: “That’s the Ollie touch to the golf course. The greens are slightly elevated, there are many subtle slopes and runoff areas. To score well, you’ve got to be on song with your short game.”

The course is a par-72 for members, but the par-5 18th is converted to a par-4 during the Qatar Masters. The most difficult hole on the course is the par-3 ninth, playing over 230 yards from the back tees with a carry over water.

Speaking on the state of the game in Qatar, Braidwood said he wouldn’t be surprised if several golf courses come up over the next few years.

“The whole focus right now is on football because of the FIFA World Cup next year. But given the success we’ve had, as has the Doha Golf Club, I won’t be surprised if we have a few more joining us soon,” remarks Braidwood.

“Ever since the pandemic lockdown was lifted, both the clubs have done very good business. Even in the summer time, we’re doing 20% more business compared to previous years. And it’s worth keeping in mind that with the travel restrictions, all this traffic is because of the domestic golfers. You can imagine the situation when we start getting back the tourists.

“At our academy and the Centre of Excellence, we now have nearly 300 kids in our junior programmes, and more families are trying out our 6-hole and the par-3 courses. It’s getting difficult to keep up with the demand.”

 

I love playing golf in Doha!

How to play golf in Qatar
Henrik Stenson Commercial Bank Qatar Masters winner
How to play golf in Qatar

Doha Golf Club

  • Established: 1998
  • Designed by: Peter Harradine
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,437 yards from championship tees
  • Green fee: Ranging from QAR 795 to QAR 350 based on season
  • Course: 18-hole Championship course; 9-hole Academy course (Par-3)
How to play golf in Qatar

Education City Golf Club

  • Established: 2019
  • Designed by: José María Olazábal
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 7,306 yards from championship tees
  • Green fee: From QAR 650 (for the 18-hole Championship course) to QAR 195 (for the six-hole Championship course)
  • Course: 18-hole Championship course; 6-hole Championship course; 9-hole Par-3 course

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