World-class golf courses spring up where desert used to be

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DUBAI -- With engineering ingenuity and oil wealth, this tiny emirate appears to be emerging as a premier golf destination in the gulf.

Since 1988, Dubai has claimed miles of sand from the desert and turned them into grass fairways overseen by three world-class golf clubs.

The Emirates Golf Club, the Dubai Golf and Racing Club, and the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club are all 18-hole par 72 courses, each with its own unique attraction.

Emirates Golf Club The Emirates Golf Club, which in 1988 debuted the Majlis, the first grass course in the Middle East, and another, the Wadi, in 1996, is the home of the European PGA Dubai Desert Classic and the 1999 winner of Hertz International Golf Travel's African & Middle East Golf Course of the Year Award.

The Emirates club boasts four dining venues: a five-star a la carte restaurant, Le Classique; the Piano Lounge for casual dining; the Pool Gallery for a quick meal, and the Spike Bar, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Among the other facilities are four floodlit tennis courts, two squash courts, a swimming pool and a fully equipped gymnasium offering classes in aerobics, general and sports conditioning, circuits and aqua-motion.

The Dubai Golf and Racing Club, which opened in October 1993, is designed along the lines of a traditional Scottish links.

The club combines golf with Dubai's favorite sport, horse racing. The front nine is built inside the perimeter of Dubai's main racecourse at Nad Al Sheba, home of the $4 million Dubai World Cup horse race, and the back nine runs alongside the track's home stretch.

Aside from golf and horse racing, the Dubai Golf and Racing Club offers international dining in the Links restaurant, and banquet rooms provide views of the fairways and the racetrack.

The banquet rooms can be subdivided or joined together to accommodate parties or business conferences of any size.

Audiovisual equipment and a range of business services are available.

Dubai Creek, very much an American-style, stadium-built course with lots of mounding separating each fairway, opened in January 1993.

The course is home to the Dubai Creek Open, which is part of the Asian PGA Tour.

The clubhouse, designed to mirror the sails of the traditional Arab dhow, has become a landmark here.

Bars and function rooms overlook the ninth and 18th greens, and the Fairways restaurant above the main foyer combines quality cuisine with views of the city.

Dubai Creek is the centerpiece of a sports and leisure complex that also incorporates a 115-berth marina. The yacht club at the marina features a floor-to-ceiling aquarium and a gourmet seafood restaurant.

Located on the banks of the Dubai Creek, close to the city center and the Dubai International Airport, the course, like the Emirates course, was designed by Karl Litten.

And like the Emirates Golf Course, Dubai Creek boasts a golf academy, offering lessons for the beginner, intermediate or advanced player as well as video equipment for swing analysis.

All of the courses abound in attractive water hazards. The water comes mostly from irrigation lakes, undersoil pipes and computer-controlled sprinklers that moisten the landscape and provide an umbrella of humidity without which only bedouins could last all 18 holes.

Emirates Golf Club. Phone: (011) 971-4-473 222. Fax: (011) 971-4-472 888. E-mail: [email protected]

Dubai Golf & Racing Club. Phone: (011) 971-4-363 666

Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. Phone: (011) 971-4-821 000. Fax: 971-4-822 565. E-mail: [email protected]

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