x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Green and pleasant valley

The National moves on to hole seven of the dream round, this time to the Wadi course of the Emirates Golf Club.

The seventh hole on the Wadi Course at Emirates Golf Club was designed by Nick Faldo, this year's European Ryder Cup captain.
The seventh hole on the Wadi Course at Emirates Golf Club was designed by Nick Faldo, this year's European Ryder Cup captain.

The Wadi course at the Emirates is named after the arabic word for 'valley' in recognition of the sunken dry river path that runs through the middle. It was originally opened in 1996 but re-designed in 2005 by Nick Faldo, this year's European Ryder Cup captain. It was then reopened a year later, giving its visitors an extra shot (par 73) to negotiate the treacherous but enjoyable 7,348 yards in front of them.

Faldo gained a reputation for precision and caution during a career which brought him six Major championships, one of which was won with 18 pars on the final day. This intriguing fourth hole typifies the Englishman's approach to course design. If you are tackling this monster in the afternoon the wind is likely to be in your face, making the back tee a no-go area for all but the biggest and most confident of hitters.

It involves a carry of 250 yards over water to the sanctuary of the fairway. Play it in the morning, as I did, with the wind behind and it can be a breeze to put your drive in play.Not that your problems are over if you remain dry off the tee. The safe approach is to aim left to stay away from the water at the front of the green, although a well-placed "sentry" bunker, another of Faldo's penal additions, will catch anything slightly off-line.

The approach is aimed at a green that slopes towards the water, especially if the pin is on the right, and is struck with the imposing Burj Al Arab hotel as the most pleasant of backdrops. Depending on the wind, it can be anything from a four iron to a wedge. Barney Coleman, the club's assistant director of golf and a former European PGA official at The Belfry in England, was my guide around what is occasionally described, unfairly in my opinion, as the poor relation of its Majlis sister course.

When the wind is helping, Coleman has a mischievous response. "If we want to we can create some really nasty putting situations on competition days," he warned. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae