Golf in Kuwait
By Megan McGlynn and Mark Hardeman
I thought I would let anyone out there who is contemplating a golf vacation this winter in on the wonders of the Kuwaiti golf scene. Although often overlooked in many of the leading golf publications, Kuwait golf is alive and kicking. The golf courses here offer golfers a unique experience, and leave participants with tremendous stories to tell their fellow duffers. We chose to begin our golfing adventures in Kuwait at the Ahmadi Golf and Country Club which has hosted the prestigious Kuwaiti Open 3 of the last 4 years. The highlights of the Kuwaiti golf experience can be outlined in the following categories.
The Pro Shop
Upon entering the Ahmadi Pro Shop, one has the feeling that something tremendous is about to happen. The staff was warm and courteous, and properly able to inspire us for our upcoming adventure. Sensing our trepidation, a local rules page was given to us as we paid our 7 Kd ($35) Green Fee. Unfortunately, the rules page was blank. Club Rentals were also available for 2 Kd and lucky for us we had our pick of a vast selection of rental clubs that Ahmadi had to offer. We were able to find a wonderful set with two drivers, a few assorted irons and a club which I believe is called a “mashy niblick”. To our dismay we found that putters were unavailable so those of you contemplating the trip, don’t forget your “Ping Zing” at home. With our clubs in hand, we felt ready to begin our experience of a lifetime, and we headed off to the first tee.
The Tee Box
Most Kuwaiti courses come complete with both a men’s and women’s set of tee blocks. At the Ahmadi golf course, the men’s blocks allow golfers to tackle the course from a memorable 6591 yards. Each tee is perched on a cement pad that lies on top of the sand. The cement pad comes complete with a green or black pad which allows even the biggest hitters to whack away with very little pain. Tees are not provided, but as the locals say, “if you look hard enough, the desert will provide”. Remember to show some caution in amongst the local shrubbery as it is known to house sidewinders and scorpions who might also be coveting that lost tee for their next round.
The fairways at the Ahmadi Golf Club are wide and generous. They are made with a mixture of sand and oil in order to keep the dust down. Ahmadi is owned by the Kuwait Oil Company so we found that they were quite generous in applying it to the fairways. Unfortunately, when this substance dries it is as hard as your local highway. This was proven when we were on the 6th hole and we watched the head pro drive his car down the 4th fairway. I guess they don’t use golf carts in Kuwait . Watching a perfect drive careen 50 yards in the air and to the left is a common occurrence. If you are lucky enough to get your drive to stay in the fairway, you are likely to get one of three lies; sand, concrete, or a mixture of sand and concrete. For approach shots from all three of these lies and from all distances I recommend a skulled mashy niblick. Keeping the ball on the ground usually prevents the straight right or left bounce and because of the ever prevalent concrete, the ball will roll until it hits something that will stop it. An extremely lucky skulled mashy niblick might even roll right up onto the brown.
The Browns (Greens)
As any good golfer knows the game is won or lost on the browns. The browns are wonderfully flat surfaces, made of oil and sand (what else?). The sand is very fine and actually allows for a good roll with a well struck five wood (remember, no putters). Most of the browns are raised surfaces in comparison to the fairway, with nicely molded mounds made almost exclusively of oil surrounding the surface. These mounds are another reason why skulled approaches are better because anything that hits these concrete mounds will almost make it back to Canada . Since the sand on the browns is so fine, you will always leave behind footprints, and unfortunately the saying “take only memories, leave only footprints” does not apply in Kuwait . On busy days sweepers are employed to clean up the browns, but on most days, the golfer is responsible to man one of the “brownside” brooms in an excellent display of etiquette. If you are lucky, you will get one that does not break in mid sweep.
Although golf is meant to be a fun game, there are a few hazards in Kuwait golf that one should be aware of. As mentioned before, it is not uncommon to see cars careening down the fairway so always look both ways before walking. Some desert wildlife including snakes and scorpions are always trying to get in a quick twilight round so be careful and always allow them to play through. We found that the biggest danger presented to us were a couple of shepherds we encountered on the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th holes. We all know how ornery a flock of sheep can get, especially when they are being herded across a golf course. Always be on the lookout!
On the whole our Kuwaiti golf experience was a blast. The course itself was like nothing we have ever seen and we both felt that it was an experience we will always remember. I would highly recommend a round to anyone who finds themselves in Kuwait with nothing to do. Where else are you going to see a shepherd on Christmas Day?