School has been busy recently with studying, intramural sports and clubs, but I wanted to give a quick update about a pretty cool thing that Ian and I did this afternoon: We played golf on a sand golf course called Al Ghazal.
Sand golf is similar to the golf on grass that we’re familiar with, except that the course has been modified for arid climates. Abu Dhabi is actually a verdant city due to its massive irrigation systems, but it’s important to remember that without human ingenuity and abundant energy, it is naturally a desert. There are lots of lush golf courses that are lighted for night play in the town, but the Al Ghazal sand golf course honors the region’s climate and makes sand golf work.
The course is made up entirely of sand and the rules of play are pretty simple: If you land on the fairway, which is marked by stakes, then you get to place your ball on a piece of Astroturf for your next shot. If your ball is in the rough, then you have to hit the ball as it lies in the sand. The putting surface is referred to as a brown instead of a green, and it is very important to sweep up your footprints to keep the browns in good shape. There are brooms located at every brown.
Ian and I were kindly invited by one of our professors, Mark Hayman, to play a round of sand golf after school. Dr. Hayman teaches a class called History of the UAE Before and Since the Discovery of Oil, and drops a lot of knowledge (as Ian would say) during class with his many insights on the history of the area. After a few holes, we could tell that Dr. Hayman was pretty sharp on the golf course as well. He finally admitted that he was the course’s champion in their annual tournament for the past two years!
If you’re ever going to play sand golf, it’s important to wear shoes that have a flat sole. Regular running shoes are not flat enough, as Ian and I discovered after the course marshal said that we were damaging the browns by leaving deep imprints in the sand on the first hole. Luckily, we solved the problem like all good engineers would. Being a preppy person who plays golf, I arrived at the course wearing some Sperry loafers, so I’d play the course in my running shoes and then change into my loafers to putt on the green. Ian devised a similar solution that accommodated for the fact that he did not have loafers with him and putted in his socks. Despite that small setback, we had a great time. It was very kind of Dr. Hayman to take us out, and I thought that it was an awesome afternoon!
Stay tuned for more stories from Abu Dhabi.
Being a golfer I like the sound of the challenge playing ‘sand golf” Many years ago my husband ( Ians Grandfather) worked in W. Africa, our house over looked the golf course which had Browns instead of Greens. I think the sand was mixed with something which helped to retain a smoother surface.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, I love reading about them.
Great entry Robert. “Brooms at every brown”!! Ha! Excellent. Maybe one day, on our way to solving water supply issues in the west, we’ll have to forgo the greens and adopt browns instead. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Hi, I’m Cliff’s mom and a fan of all three of you. Super writing, great topics, interesting insights. Thank you for so generously sharing your very unique experience.
I’ve never heard of sand golf, but wonder if they should consider it in our deserts?
Best to you all,