Golf in the desert, two big problems solved

Golf is often associated with green and lush landscapes, with peaceful places surrounded by nature, with well-groomed fairways and lush rough

by Andrea Gussoni
Golf in the desert, two big problems solved
© Getty Images Sport - Warren Little / Staff

Golf is often associated with green and lush landscapes, with peaceful places surrounded by nature, with well-groomed fairways and lush rough. This image seems inconsistent with a desert, but in recent decades the concept of "desert golf" has emerged, with more and more golf courses springing up in arid regions to take advantage of the year-round warm climate.

Gold and desert

Creating a golf course in a desert environment is a feat of engineering and agronomy that has only recently become possible and which presents significant challenges. “Desert golf” made its appearance in the deserts of California in the 1930s, but the true pioneers of this idea are the golf courses of Dubai.

Dubai's first golf course was the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club, which opened in 1988, when the city was still developing. The first photos of the club show a view without skyscrapers in the background, but today the perimeter of the pitch is surrounded by towering skyscrapers.

This week, we will have the opportunity to see the world's best players compete on this course during the Dubai Desert Classic. In fact, every year the DP World Tour begins the season with a series of tournaments in this part of the world, known as the "Desert Swing".

The main challenge in building golf courses in the desert mainly involves two issues: water scarcity and extreme temperatures. Waterfall
The main challenge in farming in a desert is the availability of water, and it is the use of desalination plants that makes golfing in the Emirates possible.

Since rainwater is not enough to meet the needs of a golf course, the water is pumped from the sea and desalinated using special technologies. This practice is expensive from an energy point of view, but the abundance of energy resources in oil-rich countries like the Emirates is not an obstacle.

Furthermore, in recent years, desalination plants are becoming increasingly efficient and economical, and the adoption of this technology is also underway in other parts of the world. Heat
Once the water problem is overcome, the obstacle of extreme temperatures in the desert remains.

Desert temperatures can consistently reach above 40°C during the day, with notable temperature variations at night. Lawn survival in these conditions requires using grass species suited to the desert climate and implementing special techniques to shade the field and irrigate it with chilled water.

Today, golfing in the desert is a reality in many parts of the world. Once the problem of growing grass in such a hostile climate was solved, the attractiveness of a year-round warm climate and the availability of space made desert golf one of the growing segments in the golf world, with a real boom in the early 2000s.

So, if you're tired of playing golf in many layers of clothing these winter days, a round of golf in the desert might be the ideal solution for you!