Chilled at The Chedi
A luxury twist to Muscat’s golfing double-header
By Robbie Greenfield
For the UAE-based golfer, Muscat is making an increasingly strong case as a front rank golfing getaway choice. It’s close enough to be reached via a short hop on Fly Dubai, yet far enough away to offer an escape from the norm. Oman is different with a capital D. Neither of its two top golf courses are remotely like anything you will play in the emirates, and nor is the magnificent Chedi hotel like any five-star property in the UAE.
You may not quite get the slick, polished golfing experience that is so expertly served up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but both Almouj Golf and Muscat Hills possess considerable charm and a rugged quality, while at the same time featuring two wildly different playing experiences.
Greg Norman’s Almouj Golf is the undisputed king of this coastline, having arrived with a bang on Golf Digest Middle East’s official Top 10 course ranking last December at No.4. The easiest comparison to make would be with Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, but there are certainly some key differences. The manmade dunes on Greg Norman’s creation are even more imposing than Yas’, and its exposed location makes Almouj the breeziest course in the Middle East. Still less than two years old, the club have already hosted a Challenge Tour event and the playing surfaces, while spongy in places, are continuing to mature into a linksier test.
We took an early morning Friday flight from Dubai late last month and had already made time for a tasty breakfast and a bucket of range balls before pegging it up on the first tee at 11am. It really is that easy. Of course, it helps when your transport from the airport to the course arrives in the form of a Chedi-branded Mercedes, just one of the customised services the hotel offers to the ever-growing number of golfers heading to Oman.
As part of the ‘Tee off in Style’ package running until the end of the year, golfers can make use of the Chedi’s renowned Spa and Health Club. In the company of the frighteningly athletic Health Club manager, Milos Padjeski, our group discovered the full, depressing limitations of our levels of flexibility, together with muscles and joints we never knew we had, during a stretching routine designed to increase balance and mobility.
Almouj Golf is the undisputed king of the Muscat Coastline.
You’ll need all the help you can get on both Almouj Golf and Muscat Hills, because neither venue is too kind on the type of wayward shots we were hitting. At the former, deceptively thick rough and even more impenetrable native areas provide an excellent hiding place for a Pro V1, while the dramatic rocky wadis at Muscat Hills are not the place to go foraging after that skewed approach shot.
In the UAE, taking a cart can feel like a guilty pleasure at times, but on this terrain you may not make it back to the clubhouse without one. Muscat Hills’ layout makes great use of several impressive ravines, with the 10th green seemingly carved out of the front of a jagged wall of rock.
After a pair of golf courses that pack a physical punch, the incredible tranquility of the Chedi is the perfect respite. Landscaped gardens, soft lighting and the understated class of the Asian-inspired architecture combine to make this 21-acre hideaway the ultimate in luxurious privacy. Choices abound, from a variety of pools including the longest anywhere in the Middle East (at 109 metres) to a full range of dining options. the Japanese cuisine at the Long Pool was mouthwateringly good, which is just as well since none of us had enjoyed the rare taste of a birdie.