Golf great Bjorn recalls his role in making Sheikh Ahmed’s vision to promote Dubai become a reality

The Danish golfers tell us how he helped change the personality of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

By Thomas Bjorn

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Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club first opened in Dubai, UAE, in 1993. - Supplied photo
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club first opened in Dubai, UAE, in 1993. - Supplied photo

Published: Tue 9 Jan 2024, 5:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Jan 2024, 5:50 PM

In the early 2000 Rod Bogg, the then CEO of Dubai Golf, from a directive from Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum Chairman and Chief Executive, of Emirates airline and Group, approached me to change the personality of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club from a traditional golf club to a golf resort.

Ros asked me if I would be interested and of course, I had no hesitation and I said yes.

This involved the re-routing of the front nine holes of the original design. It had to change as Dubai changed and the city grew so rapidly over the years.

Dubai had to promote itself as a tourist and business destination – to showcase that there was more than one golf course in Dubai in the desert.

Europe's Danish vice-captain Thomas Bjorn (L) English captain, Luke Donald (R) pose with the trophy during the European team official team portraits ahead of the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome on September 26, 2023.  - AFP File
Europe's Danish vice-captain Thomas Bjorn (L) English captain, Luke Donald (R) pose with the trophy during the European team official team portraits ahead of the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome on September 26, 2023. - AFP File

The commercial aspect was introduced with the Park Hyatt and the villas.

We then engaged with European Golf Design (EGD) and Jeremy Slessor on the golf course routing.

It suddenly became just a small parcel of land when the villas and the Hotel as well as the enhanced F&B outlets and sports facilities had to be included.

One positive result from the design, for the safety as well as the amateurs and the enjoyment of the villa residents, was that all the real estate on the front nine is primarily on the left-hand side of the course. You never want villas and real estate on the right-hand side with golfers’ slices – we were just lucky!

Thomas Bjorn . - AFP File
Thomas Bjorn . - AFP File

Around holes 5 and 6 it was always going to be a bit tight.

We just proposed the idea of putting a tee in the Creek on hole 6 – we did not think it would be approved – so we were pleasantly surprised to get a green light.

As a result of the green location on hole 5 and the sixth tee – we created two new iconic holes in addition to holes 17 and 18, with the backdrop of Burj Khalifa and the iconic tee on hole 6.

My winter trip this year has been hugely enjoyable. There is not a better place in the world to be, in my opinion.

I wake up in the Villa and take a golf cart to the practice range or to play tennis. I rarely feel I have to leave the Resort – it is a special place.

Dubai Creek is still very popular and is often a favourite golf course for many regulars – complementing the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club and all part of Destination Golf Dubai.

Emirates Airlines really changed the dynamic of Dubai. In one flight you can now almost get anywhere in the world without any connections.

In the late 1990s, when so much was happening in golf in the US, it was not easy to travel so far.

Nowadays, Dubai is becoming a genuine all-year-round home as well as a base for so many professional golfers playing on all the Tours around the world, as well as business people.

That is the mantra for this week’s Dubai Invitational hosted by Abdullah al Naboodah – a tournament involving top golfers, golfing personalities as well as businessmen from Dubai, the UAE and the world – all being held in Dubai – through the platform of golf.

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We hope to see you at Dubai Creek Golf Resort this week. I am proud to have made my contribution to the story of Dubai.

Thomas Bjorn is a 52-year-old professional golfer, born in Denmark. He has won 23 professional golf titles around the world including the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic. He played three times representing Europe in The Ryder Cup and was the winning Ryder Cup Captain in 2018. He is an Ambassador of Dubai Creek Resort.


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