Focus On The Season Finale In Dubai: Jumeirah Golf Estates
This year's European Tour Schedule comes to a close at the stunning Earth Course for the tenth time and will again provide the backdrop to both the DP World Tour Championship and the eventual winner of the season-long Race to Dubai.
The top 60-ranked players on the European Tour's Race to Dubai close out another memorable season at the DP World Tour Championship and once again the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is presented in immaculate condition.
This year's event marks a decade since the Tour moved their climactic shootout from southern Spain to Dubai and the event has received numerous plaudits since its inception in 2009.
Lee Westwood clinched the first tournament to become European No.1 and since then the likes of Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlory have made this a happy hunting ground, while Ryder Cup star Jon Rahm joined the party last year with his impressive victory.
The course clocks in at a whopping 7,675 yards from the back of the tee boxes and although the landing areas in the fairways and greens are large, course management remains high on the agenda as finding the right spots from the tee and then on the green is crucial for success.
The greens complexes are huge and feature various levels and sections – and finding the wrong one will almost guarantee a perilous two-putt. However, if your wedge and iron-play is dialled in and you find the correct portions then a makeable birdie putt awaits. Anything struck offline could find one of the 102 bunkers, while many of the greens have shortly mown run-off areas to penalise a poorly struck approach.
The tournament record stands at a 25-under-par, held by Stenson in 2013. The following year he successfully defended the title with a 16-under-par total.
Golf course architect Greg Norman initially described the last four holes of his Earth Course design as one of the toughest home stretches on the European Tour’s calendar and labelled it the ‘Golden Mile’ because they measure a total of 1,703 yards – just 57 yards short of a mile. Worldwide Golf looks at the dangers that lurk down this stunning stretch of holes and what makes them a fitting end to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
No. 15 Par 4 371 Yards
From the tee-box, the bunkers that are dotted at various points in the fairway look very penal and are to be avoided. When the tees are brought forward, there is a chance for the long hitters to get up by the green, but picking a spot with a hybrid or long iron is the safer play when the tee is further back. From the fairway it’s uphill all the way with a sloping, kidney shaped green. You can barely see the top of the flag from the fairway so trusting the yardage and full commitment it key.
No. 16 Par 4 486 Yards
The 16th poses another demanding tee short with four bunkers scattered across the fairway at various lengths from the teeing area. From the fairway it’s a daunting shot with little margin for error as bunkers guard front and left of the green and there is a cliff-edge water border to the right. The green undulates, but with the correct approach these can be used to funnel the ball closer to the hole, thus leaving a reasonable chance of birdie.
No. 17 Par 3 195 Yards
It’s easy to see the challenge that the island green at the 17th poses but there is some extra nuance to factor in which can pose further difficulty. Later on in the tournament the leaders usually face a stronger wind with the breeze picking up in the afternoon so that could call for a low, penetrating shot. Anything on the green, which is narrow and long, is a fine result in gusty conditions.
No. 18 Par 5 620 Yards
The final hole represents a birdie chance – or even eagle – if the ball striking from the tee and approach are tip top. Henrik Stenson made light work of this when he won the European Tour’s Shot of the Year award for his 3-wood approach which set up a short eagle putt to win by six in 2013.