Doha Golf Club’s Academy Course – Best Fun 8 1/2 Holes On The DP World Tour

If you’re read my articles on the ‘Course Features’ section on this website you may gather many of the stories have been researched and posted following visits to golf courses made during the course of reporting on events while on the various Tours.

Whether it be on the PGA Tour, the Asian Tour, the Australasian Tour or the DP World Tour there’s always been a welcome door open for the visiting media to play a local golf course.

And there can better course to tackle than visiting a tournament host golf club that boasts more than one golf course, though better still, a second or a third golf course where you can go out and play without infringing, if I can use that word, on those competing in the Tour event.

What I mean is you don’t want the scenario when I was playing the New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club and I sprayed my final drive way left off the 18th tee, and with my ball coming to rest slap bang in the centre of the opening fairway of the adjoining Old Course, and where I had heard Colin Montgomerie been addressed on the first tee to Hong Kong Open spectators.

“Did you go after your golf ball”, I hear some of you ask (smiling).  The answer to that question is: “Are you kidding me?  No, I disappeared out of sight”.

In recalling that incident, Monty appeared again on a first fairway when I was playing an ajointing course, and on this occasion he was strolling down the first fairway of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters host course at the Doha Golf Club.

Myself along with good friend and Irish-born colleague, Eoin Clarke, just happened to be on the fourth tee of the adjoining nine-hole Academy Course, a great nine-holer located on the right side of the championship course that measures just under 3,100-yards off the blue or back tees.

The Academy course boasts two par-5s with the longest being the ninth at 540-yards, plus three par-3s and the longest being a well-bunkered guarded eighth hole at 207-yards and the shortest being the sixth hole at 160-yards.

Usually, the Academy Course is closed during tournament week but over the course of many years I attended the Qatar Masters – 1999 to 2016 – the club was always obliging in allowing the visiting media, and here I am talking at only a few, to play the course.  You could go out mid-morning on any of the four days and still be back to the clubhouse before any of those you were looking to interview had finished their rounds.

The first hole of the Academy Course at the Doha Golf Club and as you can see a very short walk from the clubhouse. The 9th hole at the top of the photograph. Photograph – Google Earth,

Opening tee (circa 2015) at the Academy course at the Doha Golf Club. (Photo – GolfByGTourMiss)

There were also the occasions the sponsor would arrange for a ‘media outing’ on one of the evenings of the tournament when you could play the Academy course under floodlights.

So, back Monty down the first!

It was a case of once again not wanting to spray your tee-shot left of the fourth tee for fear of hitting or landing close to one of the professionals who was playing into the first green on the stunning Peter Harradine designed championship course.

However, I can safely say there was no repeat of my Hong Kong exploits as that never happened in Doha, as we would wait until the tournament players were out of sight (or out of range – smiling) but then also, I can recall none of us ever sent a ball that far left off the fourth tee.

A great aspect of playing the Academy course on each visit to the Qatar Masters was observing the forever changing skyline.

In attending the second hosting of the Qatar Masters in 1999, the golf course was well out in the desert and a long way from the city that boasted just one hotel of size that catered for the tournament’s accommodation needs – the Sheraton Grand – a building looking like something out of ‘Star Wars’ and that had opened in 1982, six years before the maiden Qatar Masters.

The Sheraton Grand Hotel all on it’s lonesome on the Doha corniche in circa late 1990s ahead of the first Qatar Masters in 1998.

The Sheraton Grand (bottom right of photograph) now dwarfted by the current Doha corniche skyline

Back then, and in 1984 to be precise, Qatargas was established as a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and various other international oil companies including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Total to develop liquefaction and export capacity. In 1996, Qatar exported its first liquid natural gas (LNG) shipment to Japan.

As additional capacity came on line, Qatargas added customers, including Spain, South Korea, and India. By 2006, just 10 years after its first export, Qatar overtook Malaysia as the world’s largest LNG exporter.

I had been to the early Dubai Desert Classic tournaments and observed how the discovery of oil changed Dubai – forever! You could be on the practice range at the Emirates Club and someone would ask you: “How many high rise buildings can you count over your shoulder ( as the practice range faces away from the ‘madness’ taking place behind you)?”

If you looked around and counted say 20, the answer would be: “Right but come back tomorrow.  There will be 21”.  That’s just how fast they were being built.

The Zig Zag Towers in Doha

Construction seemed to have began well until reaching the upper floors here in Doha.

The second ‘not so straight’ apartment block under construction the background behind your editior and Ted @Ted_Koala.

Though there was one building in Doha that would always catch the attention of those there for the tournament, and that was the ‘not so straight lines’ of the funky-looking twin buildings – the Zig Zag Towers apartments – that went up in the early 2000s, and then in the mid-2010s there was the sight of another twin tower apartments construction named the Marina Twin Towers that you clearly see from the golf course.  (See photograph above)

It got that way that each time I looked at either set of towers, I kind of thought to yourself you’ve had too many ‘sherbets’ as I’m seeing double (smiling).

So, once again very fond memories of visiting Doha and reporting on the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Oh, I almost forgot!

You’re probably wondering why I describe the Academy course as the best 8 1/2 holes and not the best 9 holes on the DP World Tour.

Well, the answer is kind of simple as the Tour players would take over the fringe area and green at the ninth hole to work on the game, and the last thing you would wish to do, and after hitting your drive down the ninth,  would be to go ahead and hit a second but in the process  accidentally hit Colin Montgomerie while he was working on his short-game or putting (smiling broadly).

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