Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – 31 Facts To Celebrate 31st Anniversary.

The up-coming inaugural 2024 DP World Tour’s Dubai Invitational brings back many fond memories in visting the host venue at the famed Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

The Tour is no stranger to the 18-hole course laid-out along Dubai Creek, featuring it’s stunning and award-winning ‘sail-like’ clubhouse, as the club hosted the 1999 and 2000 edition of the Dubai Desert Classic.

It’s 31-years ago this month the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club was opened back in 1993.

The 1993 staging of the Dubai Desert Classic was my then third visit of now so many visits to the UAE.  Readers to this website will recall the story of first attending the Emirates golf course where you travelled from the Diera region of the city and along a two-lane, sand-blown road to the Emirates Club course located all by its lonesome in the middle of the desert.

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Though that’s all changed with a towering new building appearing virtually every month while the two-lane, sand-blown road is now the 16-lane Sheikh Zahed Road freeway, and there’s also a railway station right outside the front entrance to the Emirates Club.

It was 31-years ago this month I joined fellow members of the media in accepting an invitation to attend a special exhibition match at the Dubai Creek club featuring Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Isao Aoki.

I clearly remember as this match took place on Tuesday 26th January, 1993 – Australia Day (Also India’s National Day, so as not to forget my Indian colleagues), and with the hosting of the Desert Classic starting later that week.

Ahead of teeing-up the four players were photographed by good friend Dave Cannon each sitting on a ‘magic’ beautiful Persian rug that had been presented to them by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Magic Carpet Ride – Seve Ballesteros, Isao Aoki, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els at the opening of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club in 1993. (Photo – Thanks to David Cannon/Getty)

Being born in Sydney, the Dubai Creek clubhouse has always reminded me of the Sydney Opera House while on each and every subsequentn visit to Dubai since 1993, I’ve always found myself glancing in the direction of the clubhouse whenever being driven past the site of the golf course, and also given it is the main road to and from the nearby Dubai International Airport.

The view nowadays is a blocked a little by the AlGarhoud Bridge but you can still see the top of the clubhouse ‘sails’.

And even more special has been the opportunity on a number of occasions to play ‘The Creek’, as it’s affectionately now known.

January, 1993 – Aerial photograph at the time of the opening of the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club (Note – At that time hardly any trees on the course)

Here with special thanks to are 31 facts on this 31st anniversary of the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.

1 – In 1989, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, devised the idea to created a spectacular development on the banks of the creek waterway.

2 – Marina berths were also in short supply in 1990, so Sheikh Mohammed decided to add a 199-berth marina to the project.

3 – Dubai Creek was first dredged in 1961 to permit 7 feet (2.1 m) draft vessels to cross through the creek at all times; and dredged again in the 1960s and 1970s to offer anchorage for local and coastal shipping up to 500 tons. Dubai Creek, known as Khor Dubai, was and still is, an important element in establishing the commercial position of Dubai. It was also a hub for the city’s pearling industry, which formed the main sector of the its economy.

Dubai Creek in the 1960s

The area along the banks of the Dubai Creek circa 1970s

4 – On 2nd September 1990, the first earthmovers of Al Naboodah Contracting began the first part of the construction phase.

5 – England-born Brian Johnson had also designed amazing Bedouin style of the Emirates Golf Club cluhhouse but being offered the design of the Emirates Creek clubhouse wasn’t so simple. He first arrived in Dubai in the mid-1970s to work on Sharjah’s Marbella Resort that was opened by Scottish actor Sean Connery in 1978, the resort was a collection of Spanish colonial-style adobe cottages set in a lush garden.

Brian Johnson with the model of the Dubai Creek Golf clubhouse he sent with his winning design proposal. Photo – The National

Johnson’s clubhouse design is based on the shape of the lateen sail of the traditional racing dhows. To help win the contract, Johnson asked a model maker to produce an eight inch model which helped him beat the competition. His business partner then suggested the idea of a reflection pool round the outside that helped the building appear as though it was floating. The Yacht Club design was created to resemble the prow or pointed front end of a luxury cruise liner.

6 – Johnson revealed it had been a last-minute decision to have a model made of his design.  It cost him £100.  Speaking in a recent local Dubai newspaper article he remarked: “It was a last-minute decision but it was the best £100 I ever spent”.

7 – American-born Karl Litten, who had designed the Majlis course at the Emirates Club, also designed the original Dubai Creek course, including the par-3 course and the practice facilities

8 – Lars Waldenstrom, Founder of the company Swedish Design and now LW Design, designed the interior of the clubhouse. Waldernstrom was the then father-in-law to European Tour star Thomas Bjorn.  In 2012, Waldenstrom was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award for all his design works in Dubai.

9 – What other country in the world has a golf clubhouse on one its bank notes?  The Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club clubhouse features on the 20 Dirham banknote.

10 – The gala opening on the evening of January 28th featured a stunning fireworks display and also the great Shirley Bassey.  Since then the club has hosted the likes Tom Jones, Shaggy, Bollywood stars Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta, the Russian State Ballet, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Roger Waters. However, the most famous concert in the club’s history was in October 2002, when Elton John wowed a crowd of 14,000 – even His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan flew in from Abu Dhabi to meet one of his favourite singers.

11 – The Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Golf is Chris May that runs the Emirates Golf Club.  He was previously General Manager at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

12 – Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club has been a proud supporter of Emiratization, with many colleagues progressing through the ranks at the club including Mona Ahmed Khamis and notably Abdulla Al Noon who is the current Club Manager.

David Howell wins the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

13 –England’s David Howell was aged 23 when he denied management stabemate, Lee Westwood to capture the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic by four shots. It was Howell’s first or four European Tour victories.

14 – Argentinean Jose Coceres captured the 2000 Dubai Desert Classic, and despite a double-bogey at the final hole. Coceres, then aged 36, led by five shots heading to the final round.  He proceeded to par holes one to 15, and finished birdie, par and double and still win by two shots. It was his second of two European Tour wins.


15 – In that 2000 field was eight either present or future major champions along with seven past or future European Ryder Cup captains.

16 – In contrast, this inaugural 2024 Dubai Invitational boasts seven Ryder Cup stars including victorious 2023 European captain Luke Donald and three members of his Rome winning team

17 – Between 2003 and 2007, the course saw significant redevelopment – notably the building of the Park Hyatt Hotel which opened in 2005, construction of residential villas and a course redesign led by European Golf Design and advised by Tour player Thomas Bjorn.

18 – Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club has always put a priority on junior development. Indeed when the UAE’s Junior Development programme was introduced in the mid-90’s, the Creek was the first Club to sign up for it. Now, with initiatives such as Tee It Up, which operates an outreach of free lessons for schools, the sport of golf is reaching more Emirati and expat Dubai residents than ever before

19 – Rayhan Thomas is perhaps the most notable player to graduate from the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club Academy system, going on to play in the MENA Tour and winning the Dubai Creek Open at just 17 years old. In 2017, he equalled MG Keyser’s course record of 61. During that historic round, he also equalled the world record for number of consecutive birdies in a professional tournament (nine)

20 – Dubai Duty Free CEO Colm McLoughlin is the only golfer to have been honoured as Captain of both Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

21 – The original Yacht Club had a restaurant called Aquarium, but as tastes changed there was a desire to vary up the offering, so Casa de Tapas replaced it. The floor-to-ceiling aquarium was removed and the fish were all rehoused at Atlantis – The Palm.

22 – In 2010 the Dubai Creek Marina welcomed the first annual Dubai Pre-Owned Boat Show which brings thousands of visitors – some looking for a boat to buy and others enjoying the variety of attractions on offer to the Dubai Creek Marina.

23 – Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club still has 21 founder members and 15 founder colleagues who joined the Club in the first year of opening.

24 – Charitable efforts have always been a part of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. The Big 5-0 Golf Tournament in Aid of Children was held for 13 years and raised over AED 8 million for SPARKS (Sport Aiding Research for Kids)

25 – Fishing tournaments have remained popular in the Dubai Creek Marina – in one tournament a participant claimed to have hooked a barracuda. Halfway through weighing, it broke from the scale and broke in half – it was frozen and had been picked up from the fish market on the way in from a fruitless day of fishing!

26 – The 2000 Dubai Desert Classic was held in March that year and with Argentina’s Jose Coceres, who led by five shots with a round to play, producing 15 straight closing round pars and then ending the event birdie, par and a 72nd hole double-bogey to still claim victory by two two shots from Ireland’s Paul McGinley. For the 36-year-old Buenos Aires born Coceres and also one of 11 children, it ended a six-year drought since capturing a maiden Tour win.

27 – In 2017, South African golfer M G Keyser set a new course record of a 10-under-par 61 on the opening day of the MENA Tour’s Dubai Creek Open. The Dubai-based Keyser posted an eagle, nine birdies and also a bogey.  Keyser won the tournament with a three-under 13-under tally while a week later he became only a second MENA Tour to win back-to-back in capturing the Citizen Golf Classic at the Els Club.

Keyser’s effort beat the prior course record of 63 set by Swede Jarmo Sandelin during the third round of the 2000 Dubai Desert Classic.

South African’s K G Keyser’s course record of a 10-under 61 recorded on 11th September, 2017/

28 – In 2021, the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht club hosted the Asia/Pacific Amateur championship won by then 21-year-old World No. 1 ranked amateur Keita Nakajima.

29- With golf’s two ruling bodies recently releasing measures to curb the distance the golf ball is being hit, the Dubai Creek and Golf Club found a way to cope with such meaurses – a floating tee at the uphill par-4 sixth hole.

Off the floating tee, the appropriate No. 6 ranked hole, plays 407-yards. For those off the white tees, it’s a 390-yard challenge but from the side of the river while the red tees, and also from the ‘mainland’ the hole plays 333-yards.


Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – 6th hole and with the floating tee just visible in the top right of the photograph.

30-  The inaugural 2024 DP World Tour Dubai Invitational will feature just 60 players. Only one – Thomas Bjorn – previously competed in both the 1999 and 2000 Dubai Desert Classic tournaments held at ‘The Creek’.

31 – Jose Coceres was handed a cheque for $US 216,667 for his Dubai Creek victory in 2000 while the winner of this first hosting of the Dubai Invitational will earn $US 425,000.

A happy 31st birthday Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club

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