Taming the tiger
The Tiger Woods Dubai golf course project at Dubailand is teeing up to meet its late 2009 deadline.
They're even importing the sand for the Tiger Woods Dubai golf course project but it's teeing up to meet its late 2009 deadline.
Driving from the Dubailand office to the Tiger Woods Dubai site for a visit comfortably tucked into the back seat of an air-conditioned shiny black Cadillac Escalade seemed like a perfect way to spend a weekday morning.
But that was until we reached our destination.
Like at any other construction zone in the Dubai summer, the heat and the dust was to be expected. Nonetheless, it was hard to reconcile the miles of desolate dunes stretching ahead with the pretty pictures of the completed golf course in the glossy brochures.
But, Abdullah Al Gurg, project manager of Tiger Woods Dubai, assures us that the arid landscape is temporary. By the end of the year, the greens for nine holes of the 18-hole course will be laid out.
Tatweer's ambitious project - Tiger Woods Dubai - is slated for completion in late 2009 and will comprise Al Ruwaya, a signature golf course designed by ace golfer Tiger Woods, an Elie Saab branded 33.4m2 hotel, a high-end spa, 22 palaces, 75 mansions and 100 luxury villas.
Al Ruwaya once complete will be a 7,132m, par 72, 18-hole championship course with dramatic elevation changes, lush landscaping, extensive water features and an overall design that will challenge golfers of all playing abilities.
On the day of our visit, construction was underway at the clubhouse with about 150 to 180 men working, and some of them gladly took a break to hand us our hard hats and bottles of water.
"The clubhouse is just coming off the ground and will be spread over 13.47m2. The main building will be star-shaped with changing rooms, a members-only snooker lounge and gym, restaurant, ballroom, two guest suites and the management offices. Adjacent to the clubhouse will be a golf academy with a gym, a refreshment station, with full training and practice facilities and cameras set up to analyse swings," says Al Gurg.
The nursery at Tiger Woods Dubai is the site's baby - literally and figuratively. Rows of trees, shrubs and grass are thriving in the 800,000m2 nursery, which Tatweer claims is the largest in Dubai, lovingly being tended by an army of gardeners. No surprise here, these claims fall in line with the fact that everything in Dubai is the tallest, the biggest and the largest in the world - even the trees.
Al Gurg says that Al Ruwaya will have the tallest tress ever imported into the UAE. "We have trees that stand at 13m coming in batches from Thailand, South Africa, Australia and the US. We began with 10 containers to test their survival in the UAE's climate and we now have 25 containers coming in each week, a pattern we are expecting to repeat over the next seven months.
About 700 to 1000 containers of trees are scheduled to come in just for the golf course and about 1,184 trees have already been planted on-site. We are using the same turf that is being used at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
The grass species that we have on the ground here is a special one that Tiger has requested. It is a premium sports turf that the golf ball bounces on in a particular way and it can withstand the heat. The trees and the turf we are using are doing splendidly in Dubai's climate," says Al Gurg.
Tiger Woods Dubai also has a reverse osmosis system in place to purify 5000m3 of treated sewage effluent water daily to specified standards for the trees and the turf.
Apart from the grass, the sand is imported as well. "It might be hard to believe but even in the desert we are running out of sand. We are going to bring up to 3 million m3 of sand from outside the site. Apart from the on-course sand, bunker sand also has to be imported.
We have built some trial bunkers on a corner of the site, and Tiger will be coming in soon to hit some shots and select the bunker sand that he wants to ultimately use."
Sand dunes tend to shift, so a sophisticated erosion control mechanism has been put in place to irrigate the sand dunes to maintain their position. Al Gurg feels that Tiger Woods Dubai will be different from any other golf course in the region. There will be no broad regions of sand or grass. This will be a golf course that you walk onto and be instantly transported to a verdant lush jungle."
Although the developers say that Tiger comes to Dubai "as often as necessary" to monitor the project's development, we did not get to meet him. Maybe next time?