By Tanya Lunn » Playing golf at night is not something one might expect to do, given the smallness of golf balls and the distances over which they are hit. The uninitiated often find it hard enough to follow the trajectory in broad daylight, let alone darkness!
But floodlit golf is becoming increasingly popular worldwide and has teed off to a great start at Riffa Golf Club, Bahrain's only 18-hole PGA grass golf course.
The club officially switched on its new floodlights in June 2002, with hole numbers 10-18 lit up in a move that has allowed the club to dramatically increase its capacity in the evenings and midweek. The commissioning of the floodlights has extended the playable hours at Riffa by around six hours per day.
Because of the climate in the region, Bahrain experiences the shortest daylight hours at the time of year when people most want to play golf (i.e. winter), which meant that golfers were losing out during the peak season. With the introduction of night golf, the Club has experienced a noticeable rise in the number of overseas businessmen coming to play the course in the evenings - something they previously did not have the opportunity to do if they were only in Bahrain for two or three days for a series of meetings.
With the last nine holes floodlit, golfers are able to start an 18-hole round in the late afternoon and continue as darkness falls. Players can play a full 18-hole round under lights with Night Gulf tee times available from the moment the sun sets until 8pm. The last tee time for 9-hole floodlit rounds is 10pm and 'lights out' is at midnight.
The floodlighting project represented an investment of BD400,000 (US$1.05 million) for Riffa Golf Club and was completed on target.
Riffa is the only golf course in Bahrain to offer floodlighting. Its 6,817-yard, par 72 course features five lakes, more than 70 sand bunkers, over 500 date palms and 400 specimen trees.
The night golf strategy is definitely working with figures showing that the number of rounds of golf played at Riffa in July and August in 2002 increased by 25 per cent and 29 per cent respectively over the same periods in 2001. The club has been overwhelmed by the response to floodlit golf and, amazingly, it even had two holes-in-one under the lights in the first week.
Riffa is the only golf course in Bahrain to offer floodlighting. Just fifteen minutes' drive from the heart of Manama, the club is situated in Riffa Valley's historic Al Hunaniya Wadi. Its 6817-yard, par 72 Course features five lakes, more than 70 sand bunkers, over 500 date palms and 400 specimen trees.
Facilities in the light and airy clubhouse include a corporate entertainment suite and a choice of dining options ranging from a casual spike bar to an informal restaurant. The Golf Shop offers a wide variety of golf equipment and apparel.
Riffa Golf Club is also home to Bahrain's only Golf Academy, staffed by three full-time PGA Professionals. The quality of teaching is well above international standard and facilities include hi-tech, air conditioned video swing analysis studios, as well as a 250 metre, 30 bay floodlit driving range.
For more information, call the club on 17750777.
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