Small though it may be, Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa’s new miniature golf course, which was unveiled late last year, proves a big challenge if calculated putting isn’t your forte.
My confidence knocked somewhat by an appalling performance on the driving range the preceding weekend (only my second ever, for the record), I took up the 18-hole challenge presented with more than a little reluctance. After enlisting the companionship of a friend whom I was certain would be even more terrible at golf than me (my aim is to look less dreadful by comparison), we set off on the surprisingly long road to Jebel Ali.
Even if you’ve no intention of playing golf, a visit to the resort is worth the drive on its own. A large complex with plenty of wide green spaces, stables and peacocks roaming free, it’s a great place to feel like you’re out of town, and the drive is only 20 minutes rather than two hours.
First, some history. The world’s first mini golf course was built in the 1860s at the Ladies’ Putting Club of St Andrews in Scotland – the home of golf – and still exists today. An 18-hole course of putting greens called the Himalayas, it was created when women began to develop an interest in golf, but it was deemed unladylike for women to attempt such energetic movements in public. And so the miniature golf course was born.
Wandering through the hotel, my golfing buddy (a fellow female, in the spirit of keeping things traditional) and I head towards the beach, where we spot the course on the hotel’s lawn. It seems small from further away, but as we amble closer we realise they’ve packed several complex-looking obstacles onto some of the 18 holes.
After swapping our handbags for toy clubs at the entrance and spending a reasonable amount of time umming and ahhing over the different colour balls to choose from, we hit the first hole. Potting the ball in three shots, two ahead of my competitor, I’m feeling a renewed sense of confidence in my dubious golfing abilities. Seven holes in, however, and my patience is rapidly beginning to wane as I make fruitless attempts to launch the small red ball into something resembling a hanging basket. Perhaps sensing my fatigue, my opponent leaps in and thrashes me for the next few holes.
In the end, my final score is rubbish, so it looks like it’s back to the driving range for me. But for family-friendly fun in the sun (within close proximity to more grown-up sundowners), Jebel Ali’s new mini course is worth a visit.
Dhs20 per person, day entrance rates apply (Dhs180 Sun-Thu, Dhs220 Fri-Sat) until 5pm. Open daily 10am-6pm, 7pm-10pm. Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa (04 814 5555).
Other Dubai spots for a round of crazy golf
Practise your golfing skills in a variety of scenarios at this Deira hotel. Within the grounds, just outside the Galleria shopping mall’s main entrance, you’ll find its Golf Park, which houses a nine-hole pitch-and-putt golf course along with an 18-hole crazy golf course. Clubs and balls can be rented at Frosty’s coffee shop in the hotel.
Best for: Anyone who wants to putt in both a sane and crazy manner.
Dhs30 per person. Open daily 8am-4.30pm. Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira (04 209 1234).
Hatta Fort Hotel
Make a day – or weekend – of it and head out to Hatta, where you can play crazy golf against the backdrop of the Hajar mountains. Peacocks roam freely near the course, so be careful not to hit a ball with too much gusto. There’s also a bouncy castle if you feel like unleashing your inner child.
Best for: Wildlife, scenery and escaping for the weekend.
Dhs15 per person for non-hotel guests, free for hotel guests. Open daily 8am-6pm; later times can be accommodated. Hatta Fort Hotel (04 809 9333).