x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

This snake is dangerous

Chief Sports Writer William Johnson continues his journey around the fairways, bunkers and greens of the UAE.

A panoramic view of the green on the fourth hole of the Montgomerie Golf club with the sprinkling of bunkers behind it.
A panoramic view of the green on the fourth hole of the Montgomerie Golf club with the sprinkling of bunkers behind it.

Chief Sports Writer William Johnson continues his journey around the fairways, bunkers and greens of the UAE 4th hole: The Montgomerie (par 5 - 543 yards). My guide, Rhys Beecher, one of a team of professionals here, tipped me off in the early stages of our trip around Monte's manor that the sixth was a hole to savour. A "fantastic" short hole as he put it, but I stopped him in his tracks by pausing to makes notes about this contrasting offering which proved more than three big hits for me off the back tees.

It is dubbed 'The Snake" because of a ridge separating the fair way in the middle and a sprinkling of bunkers behind the green. It presents the option of aiming either to the right or left of the ridge of this wide-open par five. Ability and the confidence level will determine which strategy to adopt. Finding the fairway left of the ridge presents a more realistic birdie chance to the low handicappers but well-positioned bunkers mean there is little room for error and hitting the green - which is comparatively small for a long hole - is no mean feat.

I took the safer route down the right knowing that there was little danger of straying into the water 250 yards away. The key was avoiding the bunkers which Montgomerie feels is one of the most important aspects of course design. I landed on the short grass but struggled to keep up with my two female playing partners who were a good distance forward off the red tee blocks. One of them, Chanchal Nanda, is a founder member of the club and initially found this hole extremely tough.

Now, playing off a respectable 15, she copes well with her tried and trusted formula of two decent hits down the right and a reasonably short pitch to set up par. My other playing partner that day was Rena Sethi who refuses to be a "golf widow". Her husband Vipen, is captain-elect of the club and is a member of the nearby Emirates and Els courses. "I am off a handicap of 31," said Rena, "but I feel I am improving and can now negotiate this hole most of the time."

@Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae Hole 5 tomorrow