Dubai Hills – the most recent course created by Berkshire-based European Golf Design – has been named the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the prestigious World Golf Awards.
Dubai Hills was chosen ahead of seven other nominees from around the world to land the title at the annual awards, with contenders including Jack Nicklaus’ Michlifen in Morocco, spectacular Hoiana Shores in Vietnam and JCB Golf and Country Club in England.
The JCB course in Staffordshire was also created by European Golf Design (Robin Hiseman), which is the design company of the European Tour and IMG.
EGD’s architect Gary Johnston laid out Dubai Hills, which opened at the end of 2018 and has already made a significant impact on the emirate’s golf scene.
It enjoys views of the famous skyline of downtown Dubai, most notably on the par-5 5th hole, which Johnston routed so that it plays directly towards the iconic Burj Khalifa.
The course, whose paspalum grasses ensure it is in immaculate condition all year round, incorporates three phases: The front nine plays through a series of deep wadis (valleys) whereas there is a more open, desert feel to the back nine. Both halves end with challenging holes dominated by the large lakes.
“To have Dubai Hills recognised as the World’s Best New Course, given what it is up against both regionally and internationally, is hugely satisfying,” says EGD’s managing director Jeremy Slessor.
Three of the firm’s other Middle East designs were also winners at the awards: Dubai Creek was named Best Course in the Middle East; Royal GC the Best Course in Bahrain; and Royal Greens the Best Course in Saudi Arabia.
The victory for Dubai Hills is vindication for Johnston’s emphasis on playability rather than on another tournament-standard course for the Middle East.
“Like The Montgomerie and Arabian Ranches, Dubai Hills was always going to be a members’ golf club and, while it may sound obvious, we wanted to create a facility members would enjoy playing,” says Johnston.
“We tried hard not to fall into the trap of making it too difficult or too long, so deliberately made the fairways that little bit wider but added interest by making them very undulating.
“The greens also have plenty of movement but knowing how quick they were likely to get once open, we made sure we didn’t go overboard.”
The award – which was announced at a ceremony at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi – adds to the firm’s already stellar reputation in the Middle East.
EGD – who have also been involved in the Ryder Cup courses of 2010, 2018 and 2022 – have worked in the region for well over a decade on projects in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.“The Middle East is an incredibly dynamic region,” adds Slessor.
Added Dubai Hills general manager Elliott Gray: “Golfers of all abilities took to the layout and challenge immediately,” says Dubai Hills general manager Elliott Gray.
“The friendly ‘stadium like’ fairways have ensured membership sales targets were exceeded in the first six weeks of preview play.”
The World Golf Awards are part of the World Travel Awards, which are now in their 26th year. Voting on the awards is done by golf travel and tourism industry professionals and also by the public.
Johnston meanwhile is already working on another new course in Dubai which will be located close to the new Al Maktoum international airport.