Arabian nights can include golf

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Duffers are notorious for sneaking out of work early to play golf. That shouldn't be a problem in Dubai, where you can tee off as late as 8 p.m. at two courses illuminated by floodlights.

Dubai, the commercial capital of the U.A.E., sees plenty of business travelers. More and more of them are taking advantage of the city's first-class golf courses -- both during the day and at night.

Serious players will be impressed with the courses at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club and the Emirates Golf Club. Both courses are government-owned and beautifully maintained. They're surprisingly lush, given the desert environment from which they were created.

The Emirates Golf Club is the older of the two clubs. For many years, it hosted a European PGA Tour event called the Dubai Desert Classic. (The tournament, which takes place in March, is now held at the Dubai Creek Golf Club.)

More importantly, it still feels like Arabia, despite the well-watered fairways. Sand dunes abut the original Majlis course, and most of the buildings resemble giant Bedouin tents.

The second course, known as the Wadi Course, has more water hazards.

Both courses are 18 holes, par 72 and run about 7,100 yards. The Emirates Golf Club also operates a golf academy, driving range and clubhouse facilities. Greens fees are $130 for the Majlis course, $90 to $100 for the Wadi course.

The Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club was built in 1993. Its most striking feature is the clubhouse: Perched along the waterfront, the white roof has a sail design that evokes the opera house in Sydney, Australia.

The course runs 6,800 yards along the creek. Par is 72. Greens fees are $100 to $120. There's also a nine-hole, par-three course that can be played at night, under floodlights.

The city's premier night golf experience, however, is at the Nad Al Sheba Club (formerly the Dubai Golf and Racing Club). A full-length course (18 holes, 6,428 yards, par 71), Nad Al Sheba has taken pains to make sure every hole is illuminated.

There's no problem with shadows because there are no trees on the course. However, the lack of trees means players must contend with the wind, so those experienced with links-style courses will particularly enjoy Nad Al Sheba.

Greens fees are $57 during the day, $75 at night. After playing a round, one can take a walk over to the adjacent track and watch the thoroughbred races (Thursdays and Sundays, late October to June).

It's important to remember that golf courses in Dubai began offering nighttime rounds because daytime temperatures can be extreme. (Summer highs can reach 115 degrees.)

Because of the heat, winter is probably the best time to visit Dubai. (It's also racing season for both horses and camels.)

Anyone wishing to play any of the courses mentioned above should take a handicap certification card to Dubai. (Men must have a handicap of 28 or less, women must be at 45 or less.) Collared shirts and non-denim pants or shorts are required. Carts, which cost about $15, also are required. No metal spikes are allowed.

For more information on the Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, visit their Web site at www.dubaigolf.com.

For more on the Nad Al Sheba Club, go to www.nadalshebaclub.com. For general information on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, visit www.dubaitourism.co.ae.

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