Some sand trap training…needed with this course.
Although The Address Montgomerie Dubai has evolved into one of the Middle East’s most luxurious and desirable golfing destinations in recent times, the key to its success has always remained contingent upon the quality of the golf course that would become the focal point for one of Dubai’s most exclusive residential communities, Emirates Hills.
The course provides the player with undulating “links land” style fairways with generous landing areas which challenge and intrigue all levels of player. Although large in size, the greens can be very misleading, especially as they are consistently rolling above 9.5feet. Plenty of shape throughout the greens can result in some very trying putts.
One of the signature holes is the par 5 fourth, dubbed the Snake hole for its saddleback fairway which doglegs towards the green, with two bunkers behind forming the eyes of the snake.
Further on, the par 5 ninth, with water down the left, is a tough finish to the opening half. The par 3 thirteenth, a hole designed in the shape of the UAE, boasts a 360 degree teeing area around an island fairway and green, allowing for a completely different golf hole to be played every time. However, it is the par 5 eighteenth that offers a more classic test.
Desmond Muirhead was born in Norwich, England, and passed away less than a year after the opening of The Address Montgomerie Dubai in May 2002 at age 79. Muirhead is remembered for many things: his fully integrated course communities like McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale; the graceful artistry of the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills near Palm Springs; his bold experiments, like island fairways and alternate greens at Baymeadows in Jacksonville, Florida; his six-year partnership with Jack Nicklaus, which produced Muirfield Village and Kings Island in Ohio; and the overt symbolism (some cartoonish, some spiritual) of his holes at New Jersey’s Stone Harbor.
Muirhead was not a typical golf course architect. Where many have a long history of golf and love to play the game, Muirhead sported a high handicap and rarely played. What distinguished him is that he was an artist and urban designer first and a golf course architect second.
This has led some to villify some of Muirhead’s later golf design forays. For example, a par-5 at the Aberdeen Golf Course in Florida is shaped entirely as a mermaid — complete with fan-tail tee box, fish-shaped bunkers and “earthen scales” throughout the fairway.
Other holes include a fire-breathing dragon, fairways shaped like New Jersey, bunkers like Nordic crosses, etc.
At The Address Montgomerie Dubai, snake-shaped holes and hand-shaped bunkers provide make for an interesting round.
Muirhead was trained as a land planner and architect and did not get involved in golf course architecture until he worked on retirement communities in Arizona in the early 1960s. He jumped at the opportunity to design golf courses along with his housing developments and turned out a few decent layouts, none of which created much of a stir.
But his engaging personality found him an alliance with Jack Nicklaus, and he worked with Nicklaus on a number of projects before parting ways in the mid-1970s. He then left golf course architecture entirely for Australia, where he worked on large community development projects. When he returned in the mid-1980s, he came back with a bang. He began to design golf holes as art, mythology and sculpture, seemingly without a great deal of regard for playability or shot value. Suddenly, this eccentric man was celebrated by major design magazines but spurned by golfers and golf architects.
Where typical golf course architects strove to make courses look like golf’s past, Muirhead had little need for St. Andrews in his attempt to introduce “literal symbolism” to the staid world of golf.
Whatever one thinks of his more outlandish golf holes, Muirhead was a thoughtful designer and one of the first to understand the importance of a safe relationship between the golfer, golf course and adjacent development(s). His writings on golf course architecture are superb, ranging from the philosophy of design to the details of construction.