x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hole 12 is a real sand trap

Hole 12 of TheNational's dream round is a tough par 4 at the Al Ghazal sand golf course.

The 12th hole at the tough Al Ghazal sand golf course. Al Ghazal is located near the Abu Dhabi Airport .
The 12th hole at the tough Al Ghazal sand golf course. Al Ghazal is located near the Abu Dhabi Airport .

Hole 12: Al Ghazal (Par 4, 404 yards) If Colin Montgomerie can have a frown replaced by a smile after a sampling this unusual golfing experience, then anybody can enjoy the combination of sand and browns that represents Al Ghazal in the shadow of Abu Dhabi International Airport. "Monty" and his fellow European tour players had a day out here as part of their Dubai Desert Classic itinerary on 2004 and 2005 and were left impressed. The 6,711-yard course, opened in 1977, has more than 300 members, some of whom have become so accustomed to playing on sand that they struggle to make the transition to grass in a manner completely opposite to my difficulties here.

Angela Scurr, the club manager, is proud of the family atmosphere that has been created at her club and was proud to show me what it had to offer to more confident visitors than I was on our guided tour. "People who have never played on sand think it is going to be a novelty day out, but they actually come off the course and tell us they really enjoyed that," she said. "And many of them come back again and again."

I am not so sure I will be one of those frequent visitors, but I still feel the need to select one of the intriguing holes to give the dream round added variety. You could virtually pick one at random because they all involve teeing off from a mat built into a concrete block and then trying to hit your ball from "fairway" sand in preference to "rough" sand (they are defined by rows of green pegs) on to browns that are a hardened mixture of sand and oil and need to be carefully brushed after each group of players goes through.

The short sixth came into the frame because it was played towards a small dhow which was perched on top of a sand dune, but in the end the honour was given to this 12th hole for the simple reason that it had the one verdant area on the site, the practice ground, on the left as you negotiated its gradual dog leg. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae