With only six weeks to go until the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final, Al Hamra Golf Club’s Agronomy Department are pulling out all the stops to ensure players and fans are treated to a top-class golfing experience in the northern emirate as the club hosts the European Challenge Tour’s season-ending tournament for the first time.
Having previously hosted the penultimate event on the calendar since 2016, Al Hamra Golf Club will go one better this year with the top 45 players on the European Challenge Tour descending to the club from Wednesday October 31 to Saturday November 3 as they aim to seal a coveted European Tour card for next season by finishing in the top 15 of the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings in the Challenge Tour’s season finale.
The stunning par 72 Championship golf course, which measures 7,325 yards at full length, meanders around four inter-connected open water lagoons merging seamlessly with the water of the Arabian Gulf and is designed by world renowned Golf Course Architect Peter Harradine. In preparation for the season-ending event, Harradine visited the course in June and it was mutually agreed with Al Hamra’s Chief Superintendent Alex McDowell that the course had strayed somewhat from its original design since opening in 2007.
Following Harradine’s visit, Al Hamra’s Agronomy Department has been working tirelessly on the South African’s recommendations to get the course in the best possible shape for the visit of the next generation of golfing stars. All 40-course bunkers have been renovated; fairway contours reinstated, tee complexes realigned and greens expanded to present players with a stern but fair challenge ahead of the first tee time on October 31.
“The team at Al Hamra Golf Club has worked relentlessly throughout the extreme climatic conditions of summer to drastically improve the overall conditions of this beautiful golf course,” said McDowell.
“We have invested a lot of time restoring all the bunkers to their original design by removing vast amounts of turf encroachment. In return, we now have larger, more intimidating bunkers that dramatically add to the aesthetics of each hole and are now a true reflection of Peter Harradine’s design.
“The team is exceptionally excited to ensure Al Hamra Golf Club is presented to the highest of standards and exceed the expectations of the European Tour by providing immaculate playing conditions for all the competitors in the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.”
Additionally, the Agronomy Department has begun a programme to beautify the desert landscape that frames many of the holes at Al Hamra Golf Club. This work has involved removing dead and decaying vegetation, manicuring the multitude of palm trees and hard-edging the turf to make a clear distinct line between the surface and beautiful desert landscape.
Graeme MacNiven, Deputy Director of Tour Agronomy, has been working closely with the team at Al Hamra and following a visit to the course this week the Scotsman said:
“Alex and I have a lot of experience between us, he has worked at different courses across the UAE and he knows what it takes to keep the course in optimum condition. It’s my job to help him do the best work he can along the way. We know that at this stage of the run-in we can begin preparing the final surfaces and the greens thoroughly and to make sure that they are as smooth as possible and in great condition for this wonderful event.”
There will be plenty to do for all the family at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final with a bustling Championship Village which promises to offer a variety of activities open for all ages as well as plenty of food and beverage outlets to keep visitors fed and hydrated whilst taking a break from the action out on what will be a pristine course which has been prepared by a world-class team.
Al Hamra’s Golf Course Architect, Harradine said:
“The vision of H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al-Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, has largely been rewarded as an uninteresting piece of land, previously soaked by seawater during high tide, has been transformed into a golf course of a standard that is capable of holding an international PGA tournament.
“The golf course actually follows golfing tradition as the usual custom many many years ago was the OUT and IN configuration. The ninth is ‘out’ and the 18th comes back ‘in’.
“I am sure that the professional golfers will appreciate the character and condition of the course capably maintained by Troon Golf’s Alex McDowell and his team.”