|Discover golf in the heart of the Gulf
By Tanya Lunn » Just minutes from the Bahrain International Circuit, the word ‘drive’ takes on a whole new meaning at one of the Middle East’s finest golf courses - Riffa Golf Club, which welcomes visitors as well as members and their guests.
Featuring an 18-hole PGA grass golf course designed by Karl Litten, a 250 metre, 30 bay floodlit driving range, superb clubhouse facilities with golf shop and Bahrain’s only Golf Academy, Riffa is an outstanding example of the new generation of ‘desert oasis’ golf clubs that have sprung up around the Gulf in the past 15 years or so.
“The first serious golf courses to make an appearance here were down in the Emirates,” says Riffa’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Maeve Galvin. “Riffa opened in 1999 and has now developed to the point where it ranks alongside the major courses in the UAE and Qatar, making this region a golfing destination in its own right. Because of the ease of travel between the Gulf states – no flight lasts much longer than an hour and some are even shorter – it’s possible to have a long weekend here from Europe and play Bahrain, Doha and Dubai. Our enviable weather during the months of November to April makes it the perfect escape from snow, sleet and rain!”
Floodlit golf is becoming increasingly popular worldwide and Riffa Golf Club switched on its floodlights back in June 2002, dramatically extending the playable hours at the club by around six hours a day in winter. Because of the climate in the region, Bahrain experiences the shortest daylight hours during winter (the cooler months), when people most want to play golf, and the introduction of night golf led to an immediate rise in the number of businessmen coming to play the course in the evenings.
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 golf tee times available from the moment the sun sets until 9pm.
Continually seeking to improve and upgrade its facilities, the club has introduced the innovative ‘Dartfish’ sports analysis software program at the Golf Academy for 2005. This equipment, which analyzes sporting movements, has been used worldwide for a number of sports and has now been adapted for golf. Revolutionary in the way it communicates back to the student the changes they have made to their technique during a lesson, ‘Dartfish’ also allows the golfer to take home a DVD of their swing, along with the capabilities analysis, enabling them sit at home or in the office and continue their learning and development away from the course.
Managed by PGA Golf Management, Riffa Golf Club is currently poised to undertake a major expansion programme in conjunction with its joint venture partner, Arcapita Bank BSC. The Riffa Golf Club Phase II Project aims to transform the club into a championship style course with a unique residential community.
Facilities will be enhanced to include a spa, a country club and a tennis clinic, as well as indoor and outdoor leisure style swimming pools. Multinational company EDAW, which has more than 40 years’ experience in master planning tourism and resort developments around the world, has been appointed as master planner for the development of what will be one of the finest golf and residential communities in the world. The future of golf in Bahrain couldn’t be brighter!
Riffa is the only green 18-hole floodlit golf course in Bahrain. Just a 20-minute drive from Bahrain International Airport, its 6,817-yard, par 72 course features five lakes, more than 70 sand bunkers, over 500 date palms and 400 specimen trees. To find out more about Visitor Golf, contact the club on 17 750 777.
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