The Track

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Time Out Says

My first memory of golf, apart from terrorising my elder sisters as I swung a plastic club at them in the garden, was of watching Nick Faldo bore his way to the 1987 Open Championship with 18 successive pars in his final round.

Although the Austrian family friend with whom I was watching this feat of golfing greatness fell soundly asleep on the back nine, I ignored his cacophonous snoring and sat transfixed as Faldo showed more grit than a bag of ballast.

Despite my own golf highlights amounting to little more than being the youngest finalist of the Southwold Town 500th Anniversary Putting Competition in England, when I was asked to play a round for the first time in a decade here in Dubai, the memories came flooding back. With my own clubs sitting rusting back home in an Essex shed, I was delighted when my magnanimous hosts at The Track, Meydan Golf, offered to lend me a set for my nine-hole night session, with club pro Tom Rourke slinging in a half dozen balls and a club cap for good measure.

Thankfully, Rourke is not there to witness me fire my first two tee shots on the dog-leg par-five opening hole straight into the lake. Clearly, I should’ve had some practise efforts as I’d completely forgotten that my action gives the ball a natural left-to-right draw (in this case, a fair distance up a water hazard). Laughing these woeful efforts off as temporary blips, I am relieved to see my third attempt safely find the fairway.

At this point I decide to let the group behind me play through (something I later regret, as two of them prove to be even more inept than myself), so I can take my time. After a few helpful tips from “players’ assistant” Zaldy Arado, I’m soon lining up my putt for an 11, which, much to my despair, stops agonisingly short of the cup. A septuple bogey at the first, what a fine start.

Already tired of waiting for the group ahead to search the bushes for their horrendous hooks, I decide to dispense with the buggy, skip the par-three second and head to the tricky looking third. On the tee, I realise one of the many errors of my ways – namely I’m no good with a driver and using a full backswing takes all control out of my shot.

With this knowledge restored, I fumble around in my bag for a one-iron only to come up with nothing longer than a five (why hadn’t I remembered this earlier?). However, reverting to my previously trusty technique, I negotiate the following three holes without too much alarm – six, five and even a par four on the fifth.

It might have been the buzz of turning things around, but I can feel the sweat pouring off me. I’d thought playing at night would have offered cooler conditions, but the humidity levels are off the scale and I’m soon fearful of creating my own water feature if I stand still for too long. Not that I would, because my par on the fifth has spurred me on, as has an incredible water-skimming approach to the fourth that defied physics and landed ten feet from the hole.

As I stand on the seventh tee, I fondly recall my dad delighting in smacking shots into bunkers during our holiday rounds of pitch ’n’ putt. Whenever I’d tried to follow suit, I almost always managed to avoid the sand and end up on the green. Sadly, this isn’t the case tonight as my nine-iron flies straight into the trap. A nifty escape later, though, and I’m putting for par – an effort that again falls a whisker short.

The eighth proves straightforward enough as I play it safe, ignoring the sirens beckoning my ball to the water, but as Zaldy catches up with me on the ninth, he senses my despair as he informs me this is also a beast of a par five. As another approach sploshes into my aqueous adversary, I’m thankful to avoid having to call it a night, holing out my final ball for what might have been a ten (my arithmetic ability has dripped out of me at this point).

Such a shocker of a round might have seen those more prone to bouts of club-snapping quit the game forever. But if anything, the serene surroundings of this Troon Golf course rekindled my love of it – even though I was more likely to concuss ducks than I was to score birdies.

Dhs225. Daily from 5pm. The Track, Meydan Golf, Nad Al Sheba, (04 381 3733).

By Luke Wilson  | 30 Aug 2016

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Show number 04 381 3733
Dubai, Meydan, The Track, Meydan Golf - Al Meydan Road, Nad Al Sheba - Dubai - United Arab Emirates