Reading the Green - Qatar’s Top Choice Golf Courses
Desert locations don't necessarily go hand-in-hand with our mental imagery of the lush green fairways and greens of golf courses. Nonetheless, some of the world's top golf tours are played on desert courses in America and the Middle East, and Qatar is no exception. Host of the Qatar Open and the Qatar Masters, this tiny Arab nation perched on the edge of the Arabian desert has some top-notch courses. And where greens are maintained, there's always an opportunity to try out your swing!
So, where can you play golf in Qatar? Doha Golf Club and Education City would be your go-to courses; both have hosted major championships, accommodate novice to seasoned golfers on their greens, and offer first-rate facilities. To find out more, check out our reviews below…but first…
A Potted History of Golf in Qatar
Like many sports in Qatar, golf can thank the country's 1940s oil boom for its place in the nation's ever-growing sports and tourism industries.
When the first oil companies began production in Qatar, they brought with them expatriates from all over the world, who in turn brought a host of new leisure activities to the country, including golf. As a result of the sport's popularity, oil companies at Dukhan - a town on Qatar's western coast, built the nation's first 9-hole sand golf course. A second sand course at Umm Saieed on the country's eastern shores, south of Doha, quickly followed. Both venues hosted local and regional competitions and then, for over a decade, the Qatar Open, which kicked off in 1983. However, it was in the late 90s that golf really took off in Qatar with the formation of the Qatar Golf Association in 1991 and the construction of the country's first championship all-grass course at Doha Golf Club in 1995.
The new Doha Golf Club all-grass venue was a turning point for golf in Qatar; the impressive venue began hosting not only Qatar's Open Championship but also the Qatar Masters, which it has hosted for all but two years over the last 24. The Qatar Open has, since the country's humble golf beginnings on sand courses, seen impressive growth in popularity, especially in the previous few decades. The amateur championship has become an internationally recognised tournament in which the winner scores an automatic pass into the Qatar Masters - a European Tour Golf Tournament, one of Europe's leading men's professional golf tours.
The burgeoning popularity of golf in Qatar prompted the founding of Qatar's newest golf course at Education City in 2019. The Education City Golf Club, which held the Qatar Masters in 2020 and 2021, is a state-of-the-art venue and really offers Qatar the chance to expand its international sporting interests even further in the future.
It also provides another venue for Qatar's club-swinging residents to spend their hard-earned leisure time.
Doha Golf Club
Image: Eagle Golf Tours
Doha Golf Club, designed by Peter Harradine, offers, amongst other things, a challenging 18-hole championship course - one of the longest 72-par courses in the European Tour, and a 9-hole floodlit academy course for beginners upwards, with shorter holes, larger fairways and less challenging terrain. The site also features a full-length driving range and a Golf Academy with a host of facilities such as a practice driving range, short game area, putting green, indoor teaching studios and simulator room. The driving range incorporates Toptracer technology, complete with smartphone application, which allows golfers to track their shots and use the feedback to improve their play. It also offers challenging games that can be played individually, with friends and virtually with players worldwide, making the instructive side of the game much more stimulating and interactive.
If that were not enough, there is an Arabian-style clubhouse on the premises, with a restaurant, bar and terrace, a golf pro shop, a sports therapist and access to Doha Sports Park. The park is a multi-sports and activities venue, which hosts courts and fields for various clubs and local sports teams.
Open daily from 6 am - 9 pm, the academy provides varying membership options - full to social, though you can book a slot, as a member or a non-member, on either the 18 or 9-hole course, from one to four people, any day of the week. The academy also offers a host of lessons from 30 to 90 minutes to individuals and groups, juniors, schools and ladies only. Costs depend on membership status, the number of people attending, the number of lessons purchased and the type of lesson - individual classes start from QAR 250/350 for half an hour of tuition. For more information on booking, lessons and hiring equipment, contact the club at +974 4496 0715 or check out their website, www.dohagolfclub.com.
The golf course, located alongside the Al Khor Coastal Road in Al Daayen, is easy to reach from central Doha via car or taxi on the Lusail Expressway or Jamiaa Street. The journey takes around 20 minutes. Alternatively, the Red Line Doha Metro stops at the Qatar University Station adjacent to the golf club. The golf course clubhouse can be accessed on foot from the Metro station in 20-30 minutes and less than ten minutes by taxi.
Education City Golf Club
Image: SKSL Photography/Shutterstock.com
Education City is a bespoke centre for learning, research and development. It includes nine Universities, some of the most awe-inspiring buildings in Qatar, and a host of sporting venues, including one of Qatar's eight FIFA World Cup stadiums, a world-class equestrian centre, and, of course, a 33-hole golf club, Education City Golf Club.
With stunning views of one of Education City Stadium and the city's university buildings in the distance, and the club's beautiful greens dotted with water features, including 12 lakes, and mock desert terrain, the Education City Golf Club is a spectacular place to spend a few hours perfecting your swing. So, what can you expect other than the delightful vistas and impeccably kept greens and fairways?
The club boasts a first-class 18-hole championship course, as well as a 6-hole championship course with various pars allowing for short format games (less than 90 minutes), and a floodlit 9-hole par three course for beginners; all designed by professional golfer Jose Maria Olazábal to USGA standards.
The club is also blessed with a flagship Centre of Excellence training academy, which offers numerous training opportunities using some of the most sophisticated, innovative training technology available to help golfers master their stroke, posture and a host of other skills. The academy incorporates a Trackman putting range, with an automatic PowerTee ball set up and ball tracking application for smartphones, a Zen Putting Lab for stroke analysis, a 3D Gears Analysis Studio for analysing club and body movement, and a studio with an automated tilting floor for practising sloping lies. The club also offers a ladies-only practice studio, driving range and short-game practice facility. And with a top-notch clubhouse complete with a cafe, restaurant, lawn sports and padel courts in the gardens, what's not to like?
The club opens daily from 6 am to 9:30 pm and is accessible to all ages, professionals to non-golfers, individuals to groups, families and kids, with varying types of membership packages - full to course access only. You can book a slot from one to four people, any day of the week, on the 6 and 9-hole courses. You can also take a 45-minute lesson from a professional coach (lady coaches are also available) for QAR 450 (just over 100 Euros, British Pounds or US Dollars) and practise your swing on the Trackman driving range, with a minimum of 5 buckets for 250 (QAR). For more information on booking, lessons and hiring equipment, contact the club at +974 7773 7973 or check out their website, www.ecgolf.com.
The golf course is easy to reach from central Doha via car or taxi on Al Rayyan Road or Khalifa Street/ Duncan Road to Education City. The journey takes around 20 minutes. Alternatively, the Green Line Doha Metro stops at the Education City Station adjacent to the Education City World Cup Stadium. The golf course clubhouse can be accessed on foot from the Metro station in 30-40 minutes and less than ten minutes by taxi.
Whether you're a seasoned pro or a golf newbie, you can find somewhere to play golf in Qatar in pretty impressive surroundings and with state-of-the-art golfing tech to boot. So, all that's left is to pull on your plus-fours and reach for the clubs!
Main image: Eagle Golf Tours
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