Jebel Ali’s new opening gambit adds lustre to Dubai’s 9-hole icon

with Kent Gray
The opening three holes at JA The Resort Golf Course have undergone a dramatic transformation to accommodate a new hotel currently under construction. Here, Peter Harradine, principal architect at Harradine Golf, details the modern makeover – 20 years after originally creating the iconic Dubai 9-holer.


No. 1/10
Marina Bay
Par-4, 366 yards, Stroke 11/12

I must admit that I liked the previous 1st hole although quite a few players said that it was too difficult as a starting hole, mainly because of the lake that fronted the old green. We, therefore, ensured that the new par-4 measuring 366/350 yards would be a nice easy starting hole. The landing area for the drive is wide open and we planted a few strategically placed trees on the left to produce a slight dogleg. The large green is sloped purposely from back to front and the only bunker on the right makes the approach quite easy unless you played your drive too far right to avoid the newly planted trees. Definitely a good starting hole which should yield an easy par.

No. 2/11
Racing View
Par 4, 331 yards, Stroke 10-/9

We used the existing lake as a new feature on this short 331 yard, par-4 which, despite its length, is definitely not easy from the back tee. Multiple choices are offered at this theoretically “drivable” hole and the player will have to weigh up the alternatives.

We designed a slight right-hand dogleg offering a challenge for anybody attempting to reach the green with their drive. You will, however, have to carry the trees and the bunker. A new lake on the left-hand side of the green also means that the player will have to hold the ball on the green if a birdie or maybe even an eagle is the desired outcome. I think that most good players will opt to play it safe as the green is designed to offer extremely challenging pin positions. A definite “risk and reward” hole where each player will be able to choose their own degree of courage. A short and scenic gem of a hole that blends seamlessly into Jebel Ali’s character.

No. 3
Stable Edge
Par-3, 143 yards, Stroke 17/18

I really liked the previous 2nd hole at JA The Resort Golf Course, a downhill par 3. In my mind, par-3’s with changes in elevation are always spectacular. Unfortunately, we could not replicate those elevation changes with this new No.3 but we have created a small drop and strongly defended the green to avoid lucky tops.

We enlarged and elongated the green to ensure that most golfers can hit the “dance floor” but the contouring of the green itself will not produce an easy shot if you have a long upwards or downwards putt to reach the pin. In fact, we designed the green in a way that will almost always guarantee three putts unless you land next to the pin in the first place.

Club selection and swing speed will be imperative to land anywhere near the flag; this hole will definitely be easy to play but very hard to score. It’s also a hole where you’ll be able to test your nerves as the new hotel’s terrace is just a few metres away from the tees. Good luck!


Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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