Floodlit & fabulous, that's how BILL WATT found a round of night golf at Qatar's amazing Education City Golf Club
Middle Eastern supercities like Dubai and Doha can be hectic and noisy places. The cacophony of noise seems to always be there. Crowds, cars, trucks, jackhammers, mall music, promotional tunes, loudspeakers etc. My home in Oz can be noisy too, but for different reasons - cicadas and birds. You almost never hear birds (or insects) in Dubai or Doha, probably because these megacities have been built on desert sands. But there is an exception ... the Gulf's golf courses.
I made this discovery when I joined my World Cup travel mate Bruce for a round of golf under floodlights on a still November night at the Education City Golf Club in Doha, Qatar.
That night, it was about 27C, not a breath of wind, and a deep silence ... except for the chatter of the birds enjoying one of the few large-scale green spaces in the Qatari capital. It was so different to our experience in Gulf cities so far.
The whole night at the Education City course was spectacular. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Qatar.
I had gone online to book a round of golf under floodlights at the course a few months earlier paying around $70 (Australian) each for the privilege. The floodlights challenge was what I was seeking, although I was a little dubious about how effective the lighting might be in the club's 9-hole nighttime course. I needn't have worried. Between us we lost two balls in the 9 holes - but one landed in a pond, and the other in a feeder creek to another pond.
On the day, we turned up for a 5.30pm tee off (just after sunset), hired a half set of clubs (for about $15 each and two buggies were free), bought a packet of three Education City stamped balls each and we were set.
A club employee drove us in a golf cart to the club's driving range and - a pleasant surprise - gave us a basket of 25 balls each to warm up with.
This gave us the chance to test out our hire clubs, which were high-quality TaylorMades. I particularly liked the Hybrid 5, which I gave a hammering on the driving range but didn't use all that much on the course.
The course itself was in incredible condition, with the holes under lights being all par 3s ranging from 90 yards to 184 yards long. The fairways were really nice to play off and the rough wasn't too difficult, for obvious reasons (ie it's nighttime golf). The greens were in beautiful nick, and we both really enjoyed putting on them.
One of the highlights was playing alongside the Education City Stadium, where a day earlier we had watched a noisy and brutal World Cup football match between Denmark and Tunisia (the best zero-zero draw you can imagine).
The course's bunkers were quite challenging in depth but the sand was very fine, and so they proved easy (maybe lucky) to escape on the two occasions I ended up in them.
All this resulted in a quite exquisite experience. I don't think I've ever felt so relaxed on a golf course in my life. The air was so warm and still, the birds melodious, the golfing challenge not too steep, and the quality of the golf we played was pretty bloody decent ... for us.
We even managed an unscheduled nighttime tour of the sculpted Jose Maria Olazabal-designed 18-hole championship course for use during daylight hours, after taking the wrong turn on a golf buggy on the way back to the clubhouse. It looked as good, if not better, than the boutique course we had just played.
Apparently there is a floodlit Par 3 course at Terrey Hills in my home city of Sydney, but the hole lengths (from 38m-to-88m) make it, with no disrespect, more a pitch & putt challenge. Maybe someone needs to get on to correcting that situation. I for one would be lining up at the first tee, if we had a more regulation golf course available under lights.