|There is no dearth of quality golf courses in the Middle East, but Phillips, an American architect whose portfolio includes such critically-acclaimed contemporary Scottish links masterpieces like Kingsbarns and Dundonald, has provided the region with a course which truly stands out. Starting with its proximity to the sea, to its undulating terrain, to the deep bunkers hugging tricky greens, to its wispy flora – Yas Links would have made the UK coastline proud. Instead, this oldest form of golf course lies adjacent to, and provides a brilliant contrast to the gargantuan modern indoor Ferrari Theme Park building on Yas Island. Phillips vividly remembers his first visit to the site in February 2007, when he was greeted by…nothing! “Three meters up from the water, it was dead flat all the way to the marina on the other side. It was a big challenge, and great fun, to come and create all the landforms and make something that people who have played links golf will appreciate. I think they will actually find it hard to believe that something like this exists over here,” said Phillips. The problem of finding the material to build the landforms that would give it a links look was solved by dredging the mangrove plantation and using the sand. Now complete, eight holes hug the coastline and all 18 holes having uninterrupted views of the Arabian Sea. The light green of the tall, native grass species planted in the rough areas complements the dark green of the paspalum grass planted throughout the primary playing areas. There are five tees at Yas Links, catering to various skill levels. These have been uniquely named 74 for the championship tee, followed by 70, 66, 62 and 54 for the ladies tee. From 74 tee, the course plays to 7,414 yards, while it is a 6,611 yard layout from tee 66. “There are several good golf courses in the UAE. Our aim at Yas Links was to produce a different course that is complex and varied enough to appeal to the most passionate of golf enthusiasts. I think we have succeeded in doing that,” Phillips added. The Grand Finale of the 2010 Etihad Corporate Masters would be the first big tournament at Yas Links, which opened all 18 holes to public in the first week of June. Chris White, General Manager, Aldar Golf, said: “Yas Links is extremely proud to have been approached to host the Final of Corporate Masters, sponsored by Etihad Airways”.
“To think that Yas Links will be hosting players from Etihad’s newest routes such as Tokyo, Chicago, Singapore as well as London, Munich and Mumbai is a testament and compliment to the quality of Kyle Phillips design and the UAE’s latest golf course.“Yas Links is a true links course that is unrivalled to any other in the region and will no doubt offer a totally unique experience to the visiting corporate golfers and will hopefully ensure they leave with a lasting memory of Yas island and Abu Dhabi.”