Hardest golf hole: The Earth Course, Dubai

Published 09/04/2010 08:32:47

What's the hardest hole you've played, and why? For me, it's the par-5 18th hole on the Earth Course, Dubai .This was the final holed played in last season's Race to Dubai, and scene of Lee Westwood's now-famous arms-aloft celebration.

From the men's tees, it plays 573 yards, all uphill. From the pro's, it's up over 650. I have played this hole about 15 times (from the men's tees), making par once, bogey twice and the rest of the time double bogey +. I count a 7 here as a good score, and I am playing to 11 handicap.

The feature of the hole is the "falaj" (creek) which runs the entire length of the centre of the fairway and around half of the green, it's in play on every single shot and almost all of the fairway runs toward it.

From the tee, you face a tricky decision of whether to carry a fairway bunker onto a generous bit of fairway, or lay up short of the bunker onto a smaller fairway but risk running into the water. If you choose to lay-up, you're only hitting around 200 yards. Try to fly the bunker and fail, and you're faced with a 9-10ft high face, meaning you're basically splashing out sideways.

The second shot, especially if you have laid up, demands very accurate placement (with anything from a 4-iron to a 9-iron depending on how you choose to play the hole) onto a narrow fairway which runs toward the creek on the left or into rough and trees on the right. The further you hit it, the higher the risk. I invariably hit the creek here.

The third shot, to the green if you've hit your first two well, is made tricky by being elevated, with a large bunker to the right of the green and the creek hugging the left. Hitting the green here doesn't mean you won't end up running into the creek or rolling 30 yards back down the fairway, as many pro's found out last November.


If your third shot is another layup, then your best bet is to come up very short and leave yourself 50-80 yards in, because the risk goes up the closer to the green you try to go. However, a 50-80 yard shot here is by no means straightforward because the ball will inevitably be above or below your feet and the fairways on Earth are very firm and the grass is very short.

The green undulates and runs very fast. If the pin is cut front left, the creek is still in play, and in fact i must admit that i have putted into the creek on this hole. I went about a foot past from about 20 foot, but the slope grabbed it and it i was in the drink.

If you can strike good irons here, and play straight, it is playable. If you choose to play very conservatively, then you can take control of it. But this, for me, is a very, very hard golf hole, the hardest i have played, because it punishes even the slighest of mistakes and it it is very long. I like playing it, it's a real thinking and challenging hole, but at the same time i hate it because, even at 11 handicap, i average about 8 here.

They call the 15th-18th on Earth "the hardest mile in golf", and it is a fitting test for Europe's best. This is the final hole played on the tour season, and arguably the hardest, and so it should be. Watching the likes of Lee Westwood and the other guys take it apart was a real joy, as was watching a few of them make scores similar to mine.

So what's the hardest hole you've played, and why?


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