JA The Resort Golf Course A Major Champion Among Dubai Golfing Venues … Just Ask Tiger!

There are many golf courses around the world where you can tee-up where major champions, including 15-time winning Tiger Woods, have walked the fairways.

Though there’s not too many nine-hole layouts in the golf world that can boast a golfer of Woods great stance in the history of the club-and-ball game has teed-up not just once, not twice but three times.

It must say something of the JA The Resort Golf Course at Jebel Ali that Woods chose to play this magnificent nine-hole course in Dubai on three different occasions, and on each visit he did so it was as a then double major reigning champion.

Tiger teed-up at JA The Resort Golf Course 2003 as the reigning Masters champion, a year later as both the Masters and current US Open champion, and then returned to the course laid out close to the Arabian Sea for a third time in 2006 as the Masters champion and also having won a second Open Championship six months earlier in July 2005 at Royal Liverpool.

Though Woods was not alone in major championship winners gracing the fairways of JA The Resort Golf Course in what was then the Jebel Ali Challenge Match, staged in the days ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, though let me go into more detail later in this article so I can first touch on the rich history at Jebel Ali.

The course was designed by legendary golf course designer Peter Harradine, and opened for play in October 1998.

Though Harradine designed golf courses the world over, his name does seem synonymous with the Middle East.  It all began after a visit to the United Arab Emirates in 1976 to investigate the possibilities of a golf course that then brought him back in 1989 to open a design office in Dubai, and in the inaugural year of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Swiss-born Peter Harradine course designer of Jebel Ali

Having a base in the Middle East, and no doubt knowing first-hand what goes into designing a golf course in a desert location, helped Harradine attain design work including being commissioned to design JA The Resort Golf Course

Harradine was also commissioned to design both the National and Garden courses at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and with the opening tee shot struck in 2000. I recall my first visit to the Abu Dhabi Club in 2005, travelling with a group of media colleagues to play a round, and being grouped with Justin Rose on that day to herald, I seem to recall, news of a maiden hosting of Abu Dhabi Championship to be staged 12 months on in January 2006.

Other Middle East courses designed by Harradine include the Doha Golf Club, host to the CB Qatar Masters and Al Hamra in northern UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, and host venue the past two years to the DP World Tour.

Of particular note as I write the golf course feature is that Harradine, along with his father, Don co-designed the Sainte Maxime course here in Sainte Maxime in France, as I am looking out over the 2nd green, the 4th tee and green along with the 5th tee at Sainte Maxime that was opened in 1991.

Heading back to the UAE four years later in 1995, Harradine is quoted as saying: “Give me a patch of desert and I will give you a golf course to be proud of”.

Proud indeed, though with JA The Resort Golf Course celebrating this year it’s 25th anniversary, and for me what was earlier this year the 30th anniversary in attending my first Dubai Desert Classic in 1993, I continue to be amazed just how much Dubai changes by the day.

In first looking back at the history of JA The Resort Golf Course , it was a special moment for the club in 2004 with Woods being joined also by then Open Champion and Dubai Desert Classic champ Ernie Els plus double Majors winner Mark O’Meara, and also then seven-time European Tour No. 1 Colin Montgomerie, along with seven-time Tour winning Dane Thomas Bjorn plus Darren Clarke in a special Challenge Match at JA The Resort Golf Course as the curtain-raiser to the Dubai Desert Classic later that same week.

The game’s two best – World No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 ranked Ernie Els competing in the 2006 Jebel Ali Challenge. (Photo – Dave Cannon/Getty Image)

It was the fifth hosting of the Challenge Match, first played in 1998, and with the six players paired into teams in a better ball format with Monty joining Bjorn, O’Meara and Woods and Els and Clarke as partners.

As I also mentioned, Woods returned in 2006 to JA The Resort Golf Course for the eighth hosting of the Challenge that was a last for some seven years, returning as the event did in 2013, featuring Lee Westwood, who teamed with Cabrera-Bello.  The Spaniard was also the defending Dubai Desert Classic champ and who had relegated Westwood into a share of second in 2002. Joining them was  Henrik Stenson and Thomas Levet who finished second with a two-under tally followed by Jeev Milka Singh and Michael Harradine with one under while American rock singer Alice Cooper and Mark O’Meara finished fourth.

Of course, let’s not also forget the earlier Challenge Matches featured some of the greats of the European and none better than Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Greg Norman and in later ones there’s been Japan’s cowboy-hat wearing Shingo Katayama along with Padraig Harrington and Ben Curtis teeing-up.  In fact, Curtis teamed with O’Meara to win in 2005.

A young-looking trio of eventual Open Champions competing in the 2004 Jebel Ali Challenge – Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington. (Photo – Dave Cannon/Getty)

More recently, there was the hosting of something very different at JA The Resort Golf Course  and just as exciting with the staging in both 2021 and last year of the JA Lake View Hotel’s Rooftop Charity Challenge, ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.

Spain’s Adri Arnaus won the inaugural event while England’s Paul Casey, as defending Dubai Desert Classic champion, warmed-up for his title defense in style winning the challenge that included players, and among them in three major champs in Henrik Stenon, Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel plus JA The Resort Golf Course ambassador Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Stuart McMurdo, Director of Golf at JA Resorts and Hotels, said: “A huge congratulations to Paul on winning the JA Lake View Rooftop Charity Challenge and thanks to all the pros for participating. We hope to welcome them back to JA The Resort Dubai soon and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.”

Paul Casey on the way to winning the 2022 JA Lake View Hotel Rooftop Charity Challenge in Dubai

After his final victory, Casey had one further challenge, a head-to-head, one-shot shootout against JA Resorts and Hotels teaching professional Amy Boulden. Casey planted his chip two feet from the pin to secure the charity donation for Al-Jalila Foundation.

The JA The Resort Golf Course boasts one par-5, the 462-yards (white tees) ninth hole, six par-4s and and two par-3s, including the devilish par-3 eighth hole at 155-yards (white tees) that presents a downhill tee shot over water.  Indeed, water comes into play on five of the nine holes at JA The Resort Golf Course, and with three of those being a feature saltwater lake.

Jebel Ali looking it’s best with the saltwater lake a standout feature of the course. The Arabian Sea in the background. (Photograph – JA Resort at Jebel Ali)

Like all golf courses, each golf hole presents its own challenge.

The first at JA The Resort Golf Course is a great starting hole, presenting a tee shot that you need to keep relatively straight or down the right side to give you a decent shot into the green that is located slightly to the left, and protected on the right side of the green by a bunker.

The opening hole at JA The Resort Golf Course and with the green slightly to the left, close to the trees and with the bunker right protecting the green. (Photo @TourMiss)

At just 325-yards off the white tee, a good chance for a starting par.

The second at 304-yards (white tees) might seem a little easier in terms of yardage but standing on the tee, noticing water to the right and OB and the practice range over trees to the left, all focus is finding the ‘short stuff’.  There is a bunker to the right just ahead of the green while the green itself slopes very noticeably from the very to the back of the putting surface, akin to walking up a long ramp with no steps.  If the pin is anywhere from the centre to the back of the green, be sure not to be short as you’re only going to leave yourself a long putt.

JA The Resort Golf Course  – Second hole with the water coming into play on the right, OB if you too far left while with those in the Lake View Hotel in the distance awaiting to greet you once on the green. (Photo @TourMiss)

(The video was taken a day ahead of the 2022 Lake View Rooftop Challenge hence the circles on the green)

There’s double pressure hitting into the green, as there’s water on the left of the green while second green is the closest point of the stunning Lake View Hotel, and as I mentioned in talking earlier about the Rooftop Challenge, you’re sure to have those on the balconies of the hotel looking-on wondering if you’ll make your putt.

The third hole at JA The Resort Golf Course is the first of the only two par-3s, measuring 118-yards off the White tees.  A great chance for a par, a good chance to get it close for birdie but then another fine example, given the green is guarded by bunkers, that a par-3 does not have to be 200 plus yards long to be difficult.

Two photographs of the par-3 third hole at JA The Resort Golf Course with the Lake View Hotel looking out over the course. (Photos @TourMiss)

The hardest hole at JA The Resort Golf Course is the par-4 fourth measuring  392-yards. It’s very much a second shot hole.  Get a good drive away and if you’ve avoided the water right, then it sets you up to attack the green, which is also guarded by the continuation of the lake in front of the green.

In taking to the course earlier this year, it was an indifferent drive but then in not being so brave, I chose to lay-up with my second down in left side corner, short of the water.  I found myself with a pretty decent lie despite being in the rough, and now facing a relatively easy chip shot over the water into the green from where I holed a six-footer for a ‘proud as punch’ par.

The par-4 fourth hole at JA The Resort Golf Course with this shot looking into the green, well guarded in the front by the saltwate lake and there’s a good size bunker on the right, (Photo @TourMiss)

The fourth green at JA The Resort Golf Course . If you look to the palm tree on the right of this @TourMiss photograph you can see the fourth fairway back towards the tee,

It’s ranked the No. 2 hole on the card over your opening nine but if you decide to play 18 holes, then the fourth is No. 1 but, as we all know, whether your playing a 9-hole or an 18-hole course a par at the hardest hole on any course will always bring a smile to your face.

You’ll love the fifth. At 282-yards still of the white tees, it’s the shortest of the par-4s.  No need for the driver. Grab the rescue club, find the fairway so that you’re just short of the large bunker guarding the green, and it’s then just a wedge to a generous green.

A good chance for a birdie while a par is another decent score but anything else should be a disappointment here at No. 5.

Talking of birdies take a look at the video taken at the side of the fifth hole green and how impressive is this.  The video was taken of a migrating ‘rehab’ eagle and being cared for at the closeby Jebel Ali Wildlife Centre. What a stunning-looking creature and with the bird’s handler clearly enjoying a super rapport with this bird of prey.

Now how good was that?  Well done and congrats Jebel Ali Wildlife Centre.

Back to the golf and you make a kind of u-turn at five and play the sixth that runs parallel to the fifth, and with the sixth, at 318-yards, it’s pretty much a straight fairway until about the last portion, with the green slightly to the left and protected by a bunker waiting to catch those short. It’s important also at the sixth not to be long, as unless you catch the slope behind the green, everything else will find the lake.

Looking at this overhead shot at JA The Resort Golf Course by Barry Lane we see on the far left the practice range and next to the range as we go left to right is the 1st hole, the the 9th hole (With the 9th hole running the lake towards the marina) and the next to the right is the 6th with the tee hidden by trees, running from the hotel end towards the lake.

It’s the feature lake at JA The Resort Golf Course that is very much in play at the 330-yard seventh hole, rated No. 5 hardest. Standing on the tee, you have the lake near most the way down the left side, so the key is find the right-side of the fairway and take the water completely out of play.  Any shot too far left, and does not to make a splash could block your view of the green. See the photograph hereunder.

An great overhead shot with thanks to JA The Resort Golf Course of the 7th and eighth holes either side of the lake. The par-4 seventh hole fairway on the left side of the lake with the tee back over the water while the 8th hole to the right of the lake. You can see bottom left in the photograph what looks like the head of a a hammer-like bunk at the 7th green. In the bottom centre of the photo is the 8th tee and with the green guarded mostly by water. (Photo – Jebel Ali)

A ground level view from the 7th tee with the green tucked in the top right corner of the @TourMiss photograrph, right of the hotel in the background

The seventh green, as mentioned, is guarded by a decent size bunker, the biggest on the course, the size of a couple of greens and needless to say looking to take plenty of prisoners. I know, I’ve been there.

A ground-view of the bunker guarding the seventh green (Photo – @TourMiss)

A short drive or walk up the path to the left brings you to the par-3 eighth hole.  At 155-yards, it’s a great-looking hole and one you want to get your phone out and take a pic.

Grabbing your tee shot attention is the lake surrounding the green, and if I can use a clock-face, the water guards the green from about a 6 o’clock position right around to about 11 o’clock.  There’s water between the back of the green and the ninth tee from about 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock while you focus all the way down the right-side of the green in a bunker.  So, it’s a hole that commands your golfing attention.

The 8th hole at JA The Resort Golf Course – Water from 6 o’clock right around to 11 o’clock, and a bunker down the right side of the green. A great-looking hole & where a par-3 does not have to be 200-yards.

Of course, short is wet while right is sandy, and if you’re long you could get lucky as there is a bit of room at the back but there is water at the back of the green.

Whatever, as walking off with a par is another great reward at the JA The Resort Golf Course .  What did I say about the third as it’s the same at the eighth?  Length is not alway the issue on par 3s.

This brings us to the ninth hole, and the only par-5 at the JA The Resort Golf Course with Harradine presenting a super closing hole with the splendid-looking backdrop of the Jebel Ali marina and the Arabian Sea.  Off the white tees, you are facing 462-yards that’s pretty much a straight drive with the hole moving slightly to the right for the second shot, and with the green lying pointing to the left.

The 9th hole tee and view down this only par-5 at Jebel Ali. (Photo – @TourMiss)

If you’ve laid-up like most of us mere mortal golfers, you’re looking at the green that is the best guarded of the nine holes at Jebel Ali, with bunkers left-and-right that run either the length of the green. Picking the right club is key, needing not to be either short left or long right, if you are to earn the delight in walking off with a birdie or solid two-putt closing par.

Put aside for a few moments the great view of yachts anchored along the Arabian Sea shoreline and focus on the small portion of green sandwiched among two bunkers here at the ninth hole (Photo – @TourMiss)


There some small changes to the JA The Resort Golf Course in 2018, with the opening three holes closed from mid-May to the end of September following the redesign of the holes which was a very short time given for new grass to grow-in.

The re-design was considered necessary due to the construction of the Lake View Hotel, overlooking the second green, that as we saw from the photographs earlier from the ‘Rooftop Challenge’, presents a super view from the hotel over teh golf course.

JA The Resort Golf Course  is a super nine-holer and it’s a golf course both challenging and enjoyable no matter whether you’re a single digit handicapper, a double-digit golfer or a 15-time Major Champion.


  • Special thanks to Elliott Rowe, Agnello and the great team at JA The Resort Golf Course



























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