It comes as a surprise to many people that despite its desert location, Riyadh boasts five green golf courses and a host of brown ones as well. But the days of individual golfers having to carry around their own piece of astro-turf may soon become a thing of the past.
Traditional brown Saudi courses are played on sand which has been smoothed with oil. The very first of Riyadh’s green courses opened in 1994 at the Intercontinental Hotel – 9 holes that double up as an 18-hole, 2,219 yard par 55 course. Here you play ‘out’ off the red tees and ‘in’’ off the white ones. Each hole is par 3 except for the sixth which is par 4. Not surprisingly, it tends to get extremely busy at weekends. Further details on 01-465 5000
Another course can be found right in the heart of one of the most luxurious residential compounds to be found in Riyadh. Arizona boasts 9 holes which double up to a 4,180 yard, par 68 18-hole course. There is a feature lake on the 376-yard fourth par 5 hole and a 24-stall driving range. Non residents can get individual memberships by phoning 01-248 4444 x454.
There’s a par-3 9-hole course at the Reef club to the north of Riyadh which also has a good swimming pool and clubhouse restaurant.
To find it you leave the northern ring road at junction 1 heading north. At Al Ammariyah turn left for six kilometers and turn right at the mosque. You will see it signposted eight kms later. Further details on 01-489 0226.
One of the best of the green courses can be found at Dirab, an hour’s drive from downtown Riyadh at the foot of the Tuwaiq escarpment. With 18 holes, the course is rated par 72 at 6,455 yards. With two lakes and a floodlit back 9, the club is for members only and has very tight security. Further information on 01-498 0018.
Finally, there is a fifth Riyadh course on the Qassim Road with 18 grass holes.