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ʱ:2015-6-2 9:34:06 Դ:ŦԼʱ :

In Dubai, Swinging Clubs Under the Stars

The shadows covered my ball like giant trash bags, and the subtle breaks in the green blended together as if coated in paint. I didnt care how could I? I was playing golf at night.


For many casual golfers, this would qualify as the Holy Grail. After all, one of the most difficult things about being a golfer is the time required to complete 18 holes, and while finishing a round in about four hours generally inspires feelings of sheer giddiness among players, those emotions are not typically shared by the players waiting spouse or family members. A quick round on a weekend often occupies at least half of that days daylight hours a reality that can be especially infuriating if, say, a family is on vacation at the time.

и߶Ҷԣʥ(Holy Grail)ôɼϾҪΪһ߶ңѵһĪڱ޶ʱڴȫ18ȻСʱҴһ߶һǸ˵ͷת򣬲ȾЩڿغǴ߶İ˻ˡĩսپشһ߶ͨҲռǸһʱ䣬һ˶ȻŭˣʱڶȼٵĻ

Floodlit golf at Emirates Golf Club. The Faldo Course is not the only place in the world with nighttime golf, but an 18-hole course in the middle of a desert requires Dubai-size funds.

Given that perpetual obstacle, let me offer this suggestion to those golfers who also happen to enjoy spending time with their loved ones: Get yourself to Dubai.


This may seem incongruous; certainly no one would argue that Dubai, a city that sometimes feels as if it is being built one (oversized) Lego at a time, has the golf cachet of Pebble Beach, Calif., or Pinehurst, N.C. But then, where else can you go on a winter jaunt that will allow you to spend a day at the beach or in a bustling array of old-town markets or atop the observation deck of the worlds tallest skyscraper before having an early dinner with the family, putting the kids to bed and then, with tourist responsibilities fully completed, grabbing your clubs and playing 18 holes with a sky full of stars along for the ride?


I was in Dubai late last year to report a few stories for The New York Times but, as I teed off on the Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club shortly before 8 one night, it did not escape me that I was beginning my round at roughly the same time as my children would be going to sleep back home. It was a liberating feeling and, also, wholly unfamiliar; after all, so many rounds played by so many golfers around the world involve a mental countdown clock, a harried feeling of needing to hustle so as to be done in time for a soccer practice/baseball game/dance recital/trip to Home Depot.

ȥ°꣬ڵϰΪŦԼʱƪϿ쵽8ӵʱڰ߶ֲĸϻˣҺȻ뵽ʼⳡ߶ʱ䣬ҲҵĺҪؼ˯ʱ䡣һڵĸоҲһַdzİĸоϾص߶ڴ߶ʱﶼڵʱܾҪһ㣬Ҵææذ꣬Աܸһѵһһ赸ݣֻһȥҵñ(Home Depot)Ĺ

This was different. At night, the pace of play is quick but the emotions are gloriously slower and dreamier. Like everything else in Dubai, there is construction all around the course at Emirates, but the whirring of the cranes and the backfiring of the ubiquitous trucks quiet to a hum after dark and the skyline that rises above the course, topped, of course, by the spindly Burj Khalifa, makes golfers feel as if they are tiptoeing (or, really, gliding in electric carts) among a cadre of neon giants.

ָоһҹȻٶһܿ죬ȴһҲһһյĸоϰݵطһ߶򳡵ΧҲڴľҹ֮Щػ洦ɼĿϿյijߣߵĹ(Burj Khalifa)Щ߶ǾãƺŽż⣨ʵdzŵ綯һȺ޺֮䡣

In many ways, a fully floodlit golf course is typical Dubai. There are other places around the world where one can, technically, play golf at night, but these are often tiny tracks, a course of short holes where one might need only a few clubs and an hours time to get around. Paying to install bright lights all over a course that can stretch more than 7,000 yards and already requires a pricey maintenance that includes one million gallons of water per day in the heat of the desert summer is both lavish and ostentatious. But then, those are two adjectives that are not used infrequently in these parts.


From a design standpoint, the Faldo Course itself is not breathtaking; its sister layout at Emirates, the Majlis, is generally regarded as superior and hosts professional events throughout the year. But while one can certainly choose to play either course during the day, the true allure here is obvious: Why wouldnt the casual golfer find something else to do in the morning consider this an enthusiastic plug for visiting the local camel racing track, where the action begins at sunrise while saving the joy (and pain) of golf for evening?


All the perks of playing a luxury club remain the same. On my visit, I enjoyed a tasty dinner in the clubhouse restaurant after arriving at the course and changed my shoes in the plush locker room (complete with sauna and steam room) before warming up at the capacious driving range with a set of rental clubs that were top-of-the-line. There were even birds chirping and flying about, their internal body clocks apparently so altered by the bright lights that dusk and dawn have become malleable concepts.


Yes, there is some acclimatizing required for night golf: Constantly hitting out of my own (long) shadow took some getting used to, and budding Rory McIlroys who like to analyze every nook and cranny of a greens tilt will suffer eye strain if they try to identify whether a putt has precisely two inches of break. Tracking the balls flight, too, can be a challenge, particularly for shots that fly far from the target line (though that is a problem that is not, shall we say, exclusive to the nighttime). One gentleman I came across recommended switching to a pink ball for greater visibility.

ȻҪҹ߶򣬻һЩֿˮҪҪԼģӰûЩʱϰߣЩո¶ͷǡϲϸбÿ϶(Rory McIlroys)֮ҪȥжһƸǷ˿ӢתۣǺܿͻӾƣ͡׷ķй켣ҲǸսЩƫ˵Ȼ˵ǸⲢҹ߶еģһλʿ飬Ϊ˿øһЩԸ÷ۺɫ

Golf, like many sports in the United Arab Emirates, is not a particularly big draw for locals, so the majority of players at Emirates are visitors or expatriates. I played with a Welshman during my visit and as we made our way down the 14th hole sometime after 10 oclock, we couldnt help but pause for a moment.


It was the quietest part of the course, tucked away from the croaks and moans of the construction. There were no other golfers around. No cars alongside. No cellphone buzzing in the cart with a text message asking how much longer we would be.


There was only a willowy tree canopy looming behind the green and us, two golfers playing a daytime sport, chasing our shots toward a flagstick lit up beneath the moon.