Golf in Abu Dhabi 2017

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is back. Get into the swing of golf season Discuss this article

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What would January be without the golf? The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship has been a regular on the city’s sporting calendar since 2006, bringing some of the sport’s biggest stars to the capital.

And this year will be no different. The reigning champions from The Open, Masters and US Open will all be taking on Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 19 to 22. That’s Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson respectively. Add to that four-time Major winner Rory
McIlroy and reigning Abu Dhabi champion Rickie Fowler, and we have quite a tournament on our hands.

But it’s not just about the on-course action. The HSBC Village will feature zones for kids to learn golf, rugby and tennis. And the plethora of food and beverage options, plus live music, make this one of the biggest events of the year in the UAE.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about this action-packed weekend...

The tournament

Dustin Johnson had quite a 2016. He won his first Major at the US Open and was named the PGA Player of the Year. And he knows the importance of a strong performance here in Abu Dhabi.

“It would be the perfect way to get 2017 started,” Johnson tells Time Out Abu Dhabi. “I will be up against a world-class field, so I know I will have to play my best golf to have a chance to win.”

This will be the first time the 32-year-old has appeared at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Having described it as a “fair but challenging test with some great holes”, Johnson has followed his usual routine when approaching a new event.

“I ask around a bit when I’m considering adding a tournament to my schedule and then prepare just as I would for any big tournament, looking to arrive with my A-game in place. When we get there, Austin [Johnson’s brother and caddy] and I will get out and look at the course together.”

Last year was pivotal in Johnson’s career. His first major win at the US Open puts him in great stead for another successful season in 2017. And it’s not just on the fairways where he’s feeling content.

“I think it was my experiences over the last couple of years that allowed me to finally win my first Major and also then to keep the momentum going,” says Johnson. “I also think becoming a dad has been an amazing and life-changing experience for me and I am in a great place both on and off the course.”

But it won’t be easy for Johnson at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. The line-up at the championship is formidable, and the American world number three is in no doubt that this will be a portent of things to come over the year ahead.

“Honestly there are too many players to mention that could do great things in 2017, and many of them will be in the Abu Dhabi line-up. The nice thing about golf is that you can really only take care of your own game, so that’s what I will be focusing on. If I play my best golf, I know I will do just fine.”

To do just fine, Johnson will have to perform at his best against a stellar field. Reigning champion Rickie Fowler is back for another bite at the title. The former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has shown time after time that he can challenge any other golfer in the world. He’s come close to victory at all the Majors, and has a great chance of retaining the trophy here in Abu Dhabi.

One of the biggest names in the field is Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. The four-time Major winner has endured a few lean years since capturing the 2014 PGA Championship, but he’s been getting stronger by the tournament. Currently the world number two, he’s poised to set a marker down during this early-season event.

Like Johnson, Henrik Stenson broke his Major duck in 2016. The 40-year-old Swede won The Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland, and followed it up with strong performances through the 2016 season’s remaining tournaments.

And that’s not all when it comes to players who had breakthrough years in 2016. England’s Danny Willett was the surprise winner of the Masters last year. He’ll be keen to show he belongs at golf’s top table while in the capital.

Whatever happens, you can be sure you’re going to see some of the world’s best golfers at the very top of their games. Bring it on...
From Dhs50 (per day), Dhs150 (four-day pass). Jan 19-22, timings vary. www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com.

HSBC Village

It’s not all about the on-course action during the championship. There are plenty of activities to keep the entire family entertained.

HSBC Golf Zone
If Johnson, McIlroy, Fowler et al have inspired your kids, then get them over to this section at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Children can learn all about what it takes to play the game in the Future Falcons section. And it’s not all about junior players. Golfers of all ages and abilities can have a go on a digital driving range or get some top tips during a free one-hour clinic each day of the tournament.

Tennis and rugby
Golf not your game? Well, we’re sure it will be by the end of the tournament. But you can indulge your love of other sports in dedicated zones for tennis and rugby. And the organisers aren’t messing about with these sections. British tennis legend Tim Henman will be coaching on a mini court, while Irish superstar Brian O’Driscoll will be teaching wannabe players during rugby workshops. The HSBC Kids Zone will also feature soft play, a jungle gym, arts and crafts and more activities to keep the little ones happy.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council
Want more sport? You’ve got it. Abu Dhabi Sports Council will be running activations for everything from triathlon to football. But they’ll also be providing a bit of culture. The Heritage Village will be filled with displays of local culture throughout the event.

HSBC Chill Zone
If all the sport has become too much, kick back at the suitably named HSBC Chill Zone. Music lovers can pick their favourite tracks from the jukebox or get more hands-on at the DJ booth, where championship-goers can mix their own tracks. The pros will also be performing sets at the driving range. This zone also features a range of food and drink options, with barbecue stations and food trucks.


Get inspired

Golf isn’t just something that happens for one weekend of the year in Abu Dhabi. The city has an abundance of excellent courses, and many offer lessons for beginners to get into the game. So whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned campaigner, here are your options for hitting the fairways in the capital.

Abu Dhabi City Golf Club

As the name suggests, this one is right in the heart of the city, nestled within Mushrif. And its nine-hole course is perfect for a game to fit in with your schedule. It’s a par-70 course (if played over 18 holes) with a mix of holes to test golfers of all levels. Kids can sign up for the Junior Academy programme, which covers everything from the technical side of the sport through to fitness and nutrition. Adults can sign up for individual lessons, packages and playing sessions on the course, while if you fancy a spot of floodlit golf they’ve got that
covered, too.
19th Street, Al Mushrif, www.adcitygolf.com (02 445 9600).

Abu Dhabi Golf Club

After the pros have packed up and gone home, Abu Dhabi Golf Club goes back to being one of the city’s premier courses for everyone to play on. The par-72 Championship course is a challenge for experienced golfers, with tricky bunkers catching out any mis-hits. The par-36 nine hole course is more forgiving, making it ideal for those new to the game.The club offers a whole host of lesson options for golfers. The Future Falcons programme teaches kids aged five to 15 years old all the basics of the game. There are also ladies’ golf packages, and workshops for players who want to work on particular areas of their game. Oh, and there’s footgolf, too.
Sas Al Nakhl, Khalifa City A, www.adgolfclub.com (02 885 3555).

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

Saadiyat Island feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. And this feeling is amplified on its golf course. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club blends into its surroundings and enjoys a picture-perfect, ocean-side location. Even if your game is terrible, you can at least enjoy the view. And on this 7,806-yard, par-72 course designed by South African golf legend Gary Player, you might have some difficult moments. Meanwhile, the academy team offers lessons for players from beginner through to those approaching pro levels. And if you’re in need of a quick spot of advice, check the club’s website, which has video lessons to let you practise at home.
Saadiyat Island, www.sbgolfclub.ae (02 557 8000).

Yas Links

Another course that benefits from sea breezes, Yas Links also offers another option for a testing round on this popular island. The course utilises the weather conditions on the island to add to the challenge, and also makes the most of the natural surroundings. It’s been sympathetically designed, and you’ve most probably driven past the course without noticing it. When it comes to coaching here, you’re spoilt for choice. Yas Links offers the popular “Learn Golf in a Week” programme, which attempts to do exactly what it says on the tin. And there are high-tech options, including the Samm Puttlab, which analyses your putting using ultrasound measurements. There’s also the K-Vest, software that collects detailed data about every aspect of your swing to get you up to scratch.
Yas Island, www.yaslinks.com (02 810 7710).

Don’t miss

Sporting events coming to the capital soon

Abu Dhabi Tour

World-class cyclists speed into the city for this renowned event. Stages take place all over the city and around the emirate and a race village will feature.
Free. Feb 23-26, timings vary. Locations vary, www.abudhabitour.com.

Climb to Abu Dhabi

This “vertical marathon” sees a group of ultra-fit runners tackle 82 floors in a time-trial format. Fancy your chances?
From Dhs175. Fri Jan 27, 8.30am. Etihad Towers, www.climbtoabudhabi.com (052 244 3906).

Red Bull Air Race World Championship

Pilots will hit speeds of up to 370kph, pull forces of around 10G and slalom through 25m-high pylons.
Free. Mar 11, 10am-6pm; Mar 12, noon-6pm. www.redbullairrace.com.

TriYas

There’s a sprint event (750m swim, 38km cycle, 5km run) and Olympic distance event (1,500m swim, 38km cycle and 10km run). Challenge yourself.
From Dhs300. Fri Feb 17, noon. Yas Marina Circuit (800 927).

By Christopher Hough
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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