Our Virgin flight landed at 06:30hrs, the sun was shining as it does most of the time here, there was a light warm breeze and the temperature was in the mid twenties. We got the transfer to our hotel, JA Ocean View, checked in then headed for The Els Club.
Our clubs were collected from our transfer vehicle when we arrived while we took the advantage of the superb clubhouse facilities to freshen up after our flight. The locker rooms have everything you need to freshen up after a day on the golf course, showers, shaving kits, a sauna and jacuzzi.
Walking out the back of the clubhouse we were reunited with our clubs and ventured onto the putting green. Dad was astounded by the appearance of the place, no matter where you were, there was a sense of pride in the overall appearance. It didn’t put him off his golf, he got off to a flying start, driving straight down the middle of the fairway avoiding the rough, well I say rough but at The Els Club the fairways are bordered by sand.
At the par-3 fourth hole, dad hit a superb 7-iron towards the pin and with one of the greenkeepers watching the ball took one bounce, rolled a couple of feet then dropped into the cup! Could this holiday get any better than this?
The rest of the round was more our level of golf, 5’s, 6’s & 7’s on the card. The course was in fantastic condition, beautifully prepared, lush green fairways, huge troublesome bunkers with fast but fair greens. We finished up the round, enjoyed the facilities once more and returned to our hotel to enjoy `Happy Hour` in the bar.
Suitably refreshed, we took a walk along the beachfront looking for somewhere to eat. The number of restaurants available in such a relatively small area took your breath away and there is plenty of choice, depending on your mood and palate. After dinner we strolled around the marina to walk the food off, my dad saw the boat he wanted, the ‘Dream On’, if only. We returned to the hotel and after a few more beers the excitement of the day must have caught up with us, beer had nothing to do with it of course, and we turned in for the night.
After a wonderful breakfast we got transfers to the European Tour Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course, which had held the Race to Dubai event the week before. The course has a very different look to The Els Club, lots more lush green areas instead of vast sand. The greens were not for the faint-hearted, touch your ball half an ounce too much and you were off the other side of the green.
What an experience it was to play a course, in championship conditions with some of the grandstands still up along around the course. I managed to birdie the iconic 17th hole but followed it up with an ugly 8 on the last. The intimidating grandstands must have got the better of my nerves. After the round we went back to Jumeirah Beach for a few drinks, a bite to eat and talked about the two courses we had played.
The second half of our trip saw us transfer to the Nova Hotel at Al Bashera and swap sports, the Dubai Rugby Sevens which was about an hour taxi ride from the hotel in the middle of the desert. What an experience, the setup, the rugby, the food, the atmosphere and the complete occasion. You really have to be there to try to take it all in and appreciate the sheer scale of it all. At the end of the day a live band put on a concert and around 23:00hrs we caught the free bus back to our hotel.
A full breakfast, a little walk to a local Mall to see a Ski Slope inside a shopping centre, only in Dubai, we got the taxi to the rugby stadium. We walked around the various stalls and had a look at the merchandise, we just had to buy a shirt to mark the occasion.
We watched a few games with a few beers, a couple of quarter final matches, a few more beers (there is a theme here). Had something to eat and a couple more beers then settled down to watch the Semi`s. It’s a fantastic venue, we were in the stand elevated with a number of like minded rugby fans, most cheering for the underdog.
After the final it was back to the hotel to celebrate our trip and the fantastic Hole-in-One on the first day.
We both loved our first venture to Dubai and my dad has a memory he will never forget along with his name on the Hole-in-One board at The Els Club!