Abu Dhabi Goes Old School

Yas Links is a nod to tradition in a stunning location

When it comes to Abu Dhabi’s grand masterplan, Yas Links Golf Club is something of an anomaly. You only have to look at the neighboring structures of Ferrari World, the Yas Marina Circuit and the chameleonic Yas Hotel to appreciate the emirate’s taste for the futuristic. And yet Yas Links is a tribute to an era where golfers played in plus fours, smoked pipes and answered to names like Old Tom Morris. Let’s face it, that’s not where Abu Dhabi’s at.

The most amazing thing about the course is, simply, that it works. In this hot, desert climate, the concept of emulating a seaside Scottish links appear absurd at first, but Yas Links is remarkably authentic, from the wispy fescue grass to the crumpled dunes and the hickory flagsticks. Yas has traded the bling factor so pronounced in other new golf courses here with a minimalist approach that is both welcome and refreshing.

Credit must go to the developers, Aldar, for having the willingness to attempt such an audacious project, but American designer Kyle Phillips is the star, bringing his vision of a modern links course to life in dramatic fashion on the gently curved shoreline of Yas Island.

“What makes the course so intriguing is how traditional it is, because nothing like that has ever been attempted before in the UAE,” says Phillips (who is the designer behind instant Scottish classics Kingsbarns and Dundonald).

“There are a lot of very good golf courses in the UAE, but up until now there hasn’t been anything that would feature on a connoisseur’s ‘must play’ list”, Phillips explains. “I suppose that was our aim at Yas, to produce a different course that is complex and varied enough to appeal to the most passionate of golf enthusiasts.”

It’s very early days for Yas Links Golf Club (the full course is scheduled to be open by August) but Phillips looks to have emphatically achieved that objective.

Robbie Greenfield
Golf Business
May 2010


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