The latest addition to the Middle East’s enviable course portfolio offers a refreshing alternative to the “monster championship” layouts that predominate the region’s golfing landscape.
Jebel Sifah GC is the 9-hole epicentre of a seaside and yacht-dotted residential/resort community by the same name, 65km southeast of Muscat, Oman’s capital city. Managed by Troon International, the desert-links was designed by Harradine Golf whose principal architect Peter Harradine is the antithesis of many of today’s contemporary course designers.
While developers elsewhere continue to unveil overly difficult behemoths in a foolhardly attempt to lure tour events and/or to future-proof their investment against the advances of club and ball technology, Harradine’s design philosophy has long focused on the physical ability (or relative lack thereof) and potential enjoyment of “average players”. The first pictures of Jebel Sifah clearly illustrate the fun factor Harradine desires.
Wide fairways, large greens and the absence of “useless” fairway bunkers promise aesthetically pleasing, resort-style golf where the natural topography has been cleverly enhanced to offer a strategic challenge.
The par 36 layout, which can be stretched from its forward-most tees at 2,843 yards to a championship standard 3,634 yards from the tips, is easily able to be toughened with greens that offer “easy, difficult and very difficult pin positions”. The use of a second set of pins on each of the nine greens can also transform the course into a par 72, 18-holer.
Sweeping Gulf of Oman views, natural wadis and a majestic Al Hajar Mountain backdrop complete the alluring picture at Harradine Golf’s first seaside offering.
“Surprisingly and for once, the client did not want a monster ‘championship’ layout but a resort course that would be fun for average players that are, after all, the backbone of the golf industry,” Harradine Golf said.
“Two holes play towards or along the Indian Ocean [Gulf of Oman] and the nearby mountains provide a dramatic and constant backdrop. Play is also interesting thanks to a continuous breeze from the sea that often changes direction, obliging difficult club selection [decisions] and playing strategy.
“Despite the topography, the course is rather flat and a pleasure to walk, which is not always the case with courses on real estate projects as they often have great distances between the greens and the next tees.”
Harradine Golf praised the developer, Muriya (a joint venture between Orascom Development Holding and Omani master developer Omran) for heeding its recommendations regarding the safety limits of the real estate that fringes the course.
“The stylish houses are therefore unobtrusive around the course as it meanders through and around wadis, which are filled with torrential water during the few but violent rainfalls. The complete sub-surface is composed of big and small calibre gravel, which ensures rapid drainage during those storms.”
Set along five kilometres of natural coastline and spanning 6.2 million square metres, Jebel Sifah is a premium destination that is home to a burgeoning multinational community. Easily reached by car or water taxi from Muscat, the development boasts an array of affordable luxury villas and apartments with stunning sea, Marina or golf views. The freehold residences, which entitle all nationalities to residency in Oman, offer a contemporary lifestyle to a diverse range of homeowners including Europeans, Americans, Indians, Omanis and GCC nationals.
Head Professional Gavin Campbell is on hand to deliver advice from a golf shop stocked with a wide variety of golf brands such as TaylorMade and Adidas. The golf course also offers players a chance to break from the mould with a game of FootGolf on its own dedicated grounds.
Jebel Sifah’s acclaimed Marina is no more than 50 yards from the golf shop. Additionally, the development is home to excellent dining, entertainment and leisure outlets, in close proximity to the Sultanate’s natural wonders. The Sifawy Boutique Hotel, another major component of Jebel Sifah, has launched new Stay and Play packages to provide golfers with the ultimate convenience when hitting the greens. Based on two golfers sharing, the packages include twin room, breakfast, ice cream at lunch, dinner with first beverage and 18 holes per night’s stay. Rates are OMR136pn (Jan 18 – May 18 and Sep 18 – Dec 18) and OMR90pn (Jun 18 – Aug 18) all taxes included. Golfers can also enjoy the Nine & Dine packages offering a three-course meal at the popular The Bank Beach Club. Rates are OMR25.
Green Fee (18-holes) rates are OMR20 for visitors or OMR17 for residents, inclusive of a golf cart, two bottles of water, tees, towel and scorecard. Resident fees apply to golfers living in Jebel Sifah or staying at the Sifawy Boutique Hotel.