In the morning, the Europeans gave their opponents no chance and made history with a score of 4 to 0. In the afternoon, the fourball matches for the stars were on the agenda. Here, Team USA made it much more difficult for the host team. While the duo McIlroy/Fitzpatrick won a clear point for Europe, the three remaining flights provided for highest tension. Team Europe secured a shared point three times at the last moment.
Ryder Cup 2023: High Voltage on the 18th Green
Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton
4 & 3 Europa
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth
As the first flight of the tournament, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton made it to the 18th hole of the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in a duel against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Both the European and American teams were ahead at times, but each relinquished the lead. Finally, on the decisive 18, it looked as if Team USA would win the whole point, but Viktor Hovland holed a last, long putt and thus saved a half point for Team Europe. One person in particular was delighted: Shane Lowry, who did not play in the afternoon, was visibly cheering along with his teammates.
Jon Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard delivered at least as exciting a finish to share the point. In the duel against world number 1 Scottie Scheffler and LIV player Brooks Koepka, there was no clear favorite over 18 holes. In the end, the Americans dominated the match, which spurred Jon Rahm on to top performance. After already causing a roaring crowd with a chip-in eagle on hole 16, he also holed out for an eagle on hole 18 to secure another half point for the hosts.
The final four players on the course early Friday evening were Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose in play against Max Homa and Wyndham Clark. Those two duos also turned in similarly strong performances, leaving Team USA teeing off at ‘1up’ on the 18th tee. But all good things come in threes: In this flight, too, the Europeans grabbed a half point at the last second, sending the American team into the second day without a single full point.
Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick
2 & 1 Europa
Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele
The only full point for the Europeans was secured in the afternoon by Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick in their battle against Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele. The duel was already over after 15 holes, because the Americans had no chance against McIlroy and Fitzpatrick. Matt Fitzpatrick in particular delivered a flawless performance on Friday afternoon and gave Team Europe an early lead. At times they dominated the duel with ‘6up’.
Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka are off to a perfect start at the 2023 Ryder Cup. The Irish-Austrian duo defeated Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa with 2&1. In the interview after the first session at the Ryder Cup in Rome, the two speak openly about their nerves and how they enjoyed being celebrated by the fans together at the same time.
Question: How big does this moment feel?
Shane Lowry: Huge, obviously it’s early days but I wanted to give Sepp his moment in the Ryder Cup to hole the pin winning putt. It’s huge. We are off to a great start this morning. We need to keep the foot down. Myself and Sepp gelled well today. Very happy out there with him and enjoyed myself.
Question: Sepp, how much did you enjoy your first taste of a Ryder Cup?
Sepp Straka: Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Can’t really describe it. The expectations didn’t even come close.
Question: How well did you play together? How comfortable did you feel with each other today?
Shane Lowry: We’ve probably known for maybe a couple of weeks that we might go out this morning together. You know, we played the same golf, all use the same stuff, so kind of made sense. We were similar-type people but I’m a bit more fiery than him. Sepp is very laid back. We enjoyed it out there, and I feel like we played some good golf.
Felt like we dodged a few bullets out there, especially 11 and 12, around then, but you know, you’re going to have that in match play. Just have to dig deep and we did. You know, I would have liked to close out the match earlier because we had good chances, but it was nice to put a point on the board for Europe.
Question: A third blue point on the board for The European Team today. Got to ask you Shane, you stepped out on the first tee and one of the first things you saw was Viktor Hovland chipping in at first. How much did that motivate you?
Shane Lowry: I was trying to stay calm and started losing my mind on the first tee. Yeah, for a guy they say can’t chip, Viktor did all right on that hole.
Look, we are very happy with our start today and obviously there’s a lot of golf to be played from here. We talked about getting off to a fast start and we have done.
Question: How are the nerves hitting the first tee shot in your first Ryder Cup?
Sepp Straka: Very. Very nervous. Yeah, couldn’t even really describe. The blood was flowing. Heartbeat was up. Thankfully I made contact with the ball, so I think that’s a win.
Question: You didn’t play foursomes at Whistling Straits. How different was this experience today?
Shane Lowry: Yeah, it was cool. Look, I came here with an open mind this week; I’ll do whatever the captain asks me. He wanted me to go out this morning with Sepp.
It’s nice to go around with a Rookie and bring him around the place. I think the last few days got the Rookies ready for what today was going to be like. It was amazing.
It’s my first home Ryder Cup, as well, and obviously last time at Whistling Straits wasn’t the best experience and out there today was just incredible. With the crowd cheering you down every green and every fairway, it’s incredible to have home support.
Not only Viktor Hovland seems unstoppable on this Friday morning, but also Jon Rahm inspires with incredible golf. His tee shot from around 180 meters on hole 7 hits the flagstick and just misses the hole-in-one at the Ryder Cup 2023. The birdie after that is just a free skate.
Ryder Cup 2023: Jon Rahm’s almost-hole-in-one in video
It took six holes and an iron shot for Jon Rahm to almost play his way into the Ryder Cup history books. On the par-3, the Spaniard goes straight for the flag with an aggressive shot and hits the line to the stick perfectly. The shot comes up a few feet short of the flag, bounces a few times and then rolls toward the flag. But the speed of the ball seems a bit too high and the golf ball bounces off the flagstick and stays next to the flag for a tap-in.
The spectators in Rome, of course, celebrate the shot and cheer along during the ball flight and many a person cannot believe that this incredible tee shot did not land in the hole.
Phil Mickelson, the renowned golfer with the storied career, has taken to Twitter to share a deeply personal reflection on his past struggles with gambling addiction. As the football season kicks off in the United States, Mickelson’s words serve as a poignant reminder of the perils of betting and the impact it can have on personal relationships.
He begins by acknowledging the majority who enjoy the football season in moderation, indulging in fantasy leagues and friendly bets. However, he candidly admits, “I won’t be betting this year because I crossed the line of moderation and into addiction which isn’t any fun at all.” Mickelson’s struggles were never about financial insecurity, he claims. Instead, the true cost of his addiction was the emotional and relational toll it took on him and his loved ones. A haunting sentiment he recalls from those close to him is: “You’re here but you’re not with us.” This sense of detachment, likened to being in a shelter during a hurricane, oblivious to the destruction outside, encapsulates the isolating nature of addiction.
Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment. The fantasy leagues will provide banter amongst friends and money won or lost betting won’t affect you. I wont be betting this year because I crossed the line of moderation and…
Mickelson’s account also highlights the dangers of surrounding oneself with enablers, who can often be mistaken for friends. His public profile added another layer of complexity, making him vulnerable to those who sought to profit from his missteps. Yet, amidst the turmoil, a beacon of support remained: his partner, Amy. He lauds her unwavering love and strength, crediting her with helping him navigate through his “darkest and most difficult times.”
The journey to recovery wasn’t swift. After years of professional help and abstaining from gambling, Mickelson describes a newfound sense of peace. He admits, “I still have a lot of cleaning up to do with those I love the most but I’m doing it slowly and as best I can.”
In closing, Mickelson implores his followers to approach this football season with caution. The allure of betting should never overshadow the value of presence, for, in his words, “the moments with the ones you love will be far more remembered than any bet you win or fantasy league triumph.”
Mickelson’s heartfelt confession underscores the potential dangers of gambling and sports betting. While many engage in such activities harmlessly, it’s crucial to recognize the fine line between enjoyment and addiction. For those teetering on the brink, or already ensnared, Mickelson’s story is a testament to the power of love, professional help, and personal resolve in the face of adversity.
Spider-Man can not only place nets unerringly, but also a golf ball in the hole – or at least Spider-Man actor Tom Holland can. The 27-year-old Briton is quite respectable with his 6 handicap and is a regular guest at celebrity tournaments. It is unforgettable how he almost played his way onto the European Ryder Cup team in 2021 with a single stroke. On the 18th hole at the Pro-Am before the BMW PGA Championship, then Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington promised, “If you hit the green, I’ll take you on the team.” And he almost had to keep his word – but only almost. “For a moment I thought maybe I could become a golfer,” Holland joked after the moment.
Yet golf is more than just a casual pastime for the actor. “I’m addicted to golf,” he told People magazine in an interview a few years ago. “It’s a nice way to disconnect from what’s going on around you. I turn my phone off and I just enjoy being outdoors with my friends, my brothers and my dad.” Along with his brothers, he again competed in the 2023 Pro-Am at Wentworth.
Golf has another effect on him. “Golf is also incredibly humbling,” Holland said. “Over the last few years, I’ve been very lucky that my career has taken twists and turns, but all the kind of twists and turns that I could only have dreamed of. And very often, I’ll go out and play golf to celebrate, and it will very, very quickly humble me by destroying me.” “So,” he added, “that’s why golf is valuable.”
Whether athletes or actors, many public figures who can’t risk getting injured find a secure future in playing golf. That’s just as true for DFB soccer players as it is for Hollywood stars. For example, the first thing Holland wished for after the end of the Spider-Man trology with “No Way Home” was to go skiing. “That’s something I’ve not really been allowed to do because it’s obviously a dangerous sport. I’ve been very careful over the years, which is why I’ve become obsessed with golf because it’s the only sport I can play without getting injured.”
All the more reason for Holland to introduce the sport to his one friend and fellow actress Zendaya, The Hollywood Reporter knows. “I gave her a few lessons. She’s very talented by nature, a real athlete, so she picked it up very quickly.”
Superheroes on the golf course
But Holland may not be the best superhero on the golf course. Ant-Man Quantum Mania star Kathryn Newton also swings a club regularly and also plays with a 6 handicap. Both competed in the Pro-Am of the BMW PGA Championship 2023 in Wentworth, although not in a direct duel. That challenge is still open.
Women golfers seeking the most vibrant outfits for this Autumn can count on the latest collection from premium hi-tech golf apparel brand Galvin Green, with a striking pallete of colours and patterns on offer in every apparel category throughout the extensive line-up. Featuring more than 30 distinctively bold styles, including seven new garments, the 2023 Part Two range has been designed to ensure women golfers can light up the fairways over the cooler months wearing ultra-modern styles that deliver top performance. “Women golfers can expect a superior level of style and sophistication from the incredibly vibrant colourways and patterns on offer in our latest performance-driven collection,” said Product Manager Sofia Ask Klason. “We expect the new designs to be especially popular with those golfers seeking some of the most sustainable, long-lasting garments on the market without compromising on the incredible attention to detail that we take great pride in at Galvin Green,” she added.
The use of responsibly sourced bluesign® approved fabrics confirms the brand’s commitment to minimizing its social and environmental impact, while providing golfers with incredible warmth and comfort whatever the weather.
The new Part Two Fall Collection from Galvin Green
The latest addition to the 100% waterproof jacket range is the AIDA style in GORE TEX fabric with a lightweight mesh lining for added warmth and breathability. The chic design features a two-way front zipper in White to deliver an eye-catching appearance; shaped sleeves and adjustable cuffs for easy movement; plus, an elasticated drawstring at the hem to deliver the perfect fit. The bright Coral/White/Cool Grey option is sure to draw attention for all the right reasons. Available in two other colour combinations, the fully waterproof and windproof jacket can be matched with the lined ANNA pants in a wide range of sizes. Other standout waterproof jackets include the mesh-lined ANYA in a refreshing Blue option; the dashing ALLY style in GORE-TEX Paclite® Stretch fabric in as many as four stylish colourways; plus the ALICE GORE-TEX Paclite® in a vibrant Sugar Coral colour. The versatile LEORA full-zip jacket is the latest addition to the water resistant and windproof INTERFACE™ range. Made from stretch fabric and Thermore® padding to deliver a high warming effect, the jacket features a soft quilted pattern across the front and back of the garment for all-day comfort and an exceptional look. The style is available in three classy colours to ensure it can be worn with several outfits both on and off the golf course. It is joined in the latest outerwear range by the padded LENE gilet constructed from partial stretch bluesign® approved fabric and LARISSA full-zip jacket in four colourways. The three garments are designed to be paired up with the LEVANA INTERFACE-1™ trousers, now available in a new Navy option, to form the ideal outfit for golf in demanding conditions. The eco-generation INSULA™ range of warm mid-layers crafted using recycled polyester from PET plastic bottles is strengthened by the addition of the DARLENA – the brand’s first ever padded Women’s sweater. The soft and stylish garment provides an extremely warm and breathable option for chilly days, while offering a supremely sophisticated look. It is complemented by the introduction of the trendy DAGMAR hoodie with a subtle ‘GG’ logo and slits at the hip to deliver a sporty appearance, while the DONYA V-neck sweater rounds out the new warm options on offer in the INSULA™ range. A marine-inspired combination of the MALENA shirt and matching MABEL skort in the Navy/White/Blue Bell colourway spearheads the VENTIL8™ PLUS range offering top breathability and thermal regulation during the round. Designed using soft and comfortable stretch fabric, the stylish pairing delivers an individual look that will be sure to catch the eye of playing partners. Other top pairings include the popular MELANIE short-sleeve shirt style and smart NICOLE trousers in four matching colour combinations, plus the MEG sleeveless shirt and vivid NESSA skort for warmer days. The highly breathable NICCI leggings are a great option for those seeking a versatile piece that can be worn both on and off the course. The base layer range is comprised of the patterned ELLA shirt in SKINTIGHT™ fresh fabric offering UV 50+ protection for golf in sunny conditions, while the ELAINE shirt and EBBA leggings have been specifically designed to deliver incredible warmth in colder weather.
Thomas Müller in particular should be extremely pleased about the spectacular transfer of English superstar Harry Kane to FC Bayern. Müller, who is known for his passion for golf, will probably not only provide the perfect templates for the new star striker on the football field in the near future, but will probably also enjoy one or two rounds of golf together with him. With the signing of Harry Kane, FC Bayern has not only gained one of the most outstanding goal scorers of the last ten years, but also brought a virtuoso golfer into the team. With a handicap of 0, Kane even puts the experienced golfer Müller in the shade.
Kane first ventured onto the golf course at the age of six or seven, but his involvement at that time remained rather modest. The true passion for golf only ignited in Kane at the age of 17 or 18. During one summer, he deliberately refrained from travelling and instead devoted himself to golf every day for five weeks. During this period, his handicap dropped from 18 to about 10, and from then on, his enthusiasm for the sport grew inexorably year by year. He began to follow golf on television, with Tiger Woods in particular inspiring him.
Nowadays, Harry Kane presents himself with an impressive handicap of zero. As a member of Wentworth Golf Club as well as Beaverbrook Golf Club in Surrey, he has made two renowned golf courses his sporting home. During his time at Tottenham Hotspurs, he often played with teammate Eric Dier. Now in Munich, he has probably already found a new playing partner in Thomas Müller, who will keep him company on the golf course. Since Müller is also a regular guest at the Pro-Am of the BMW International Open, fans may soon be able to admire Harry Kane’s golf game at the Munich-Eichenried Golf Club.
Golfing with Tiger Woods not a dream for Harry Kane
Harry Kane has already experienced several things in his golf career that remain a lifelong dream for most golfers. In 2017, the Englishman had the honour of playing four holes with golf legend Tiger Woods in the Bahamas, an experience he still looks back on with great pleasure. The list of golf courses on which the striker has already played reads like a poem: Augusta National, St. Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns, Loch Lomond and many more. So it’s no wonder that golf has become a real passion for Kane.
Kane is well aware of his strengths on the golf course. The 1.88 metre tall attacker cites long tee shots as his greatest weapon and estimates that he can keep up with many professionals in this respect. But power is not his only expertise – his precise short game, especially when chipping, is testament to his remarkable talent. Striving for consistent performance on the golf course is a major driving force for Kane. But unlike on the football pitch, performance and perfection are not the only things that count for the 30-year-old when it comes to golf. For him, it is a way to enjoy the moment, switch off and leave the stress of everyday life behind. While he is on the golf course, he can focus on having a good time without the pressure he might feel on the football field.
In a golf challenge, Harry Kane has even taken on Tommy Fleetwood. A good opportunity to watch the new Bavarian play golf.
The Champion Golfer of the Year will receive the highest amount in The Open’s history as it returns to the renowned Hoylake links for the 13th time.
The R&A announced that the total prize fund for The Open, played from 16-23 July 2023, will be USD16.5 million, an 18% increase on 2022.
Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “Our aim is to ensure The Open remains at the pinnacle of world golf and we have almost doubled the prize fund since 2016. While we are seeing substantial increases in prize money across the men’s professional game, we are fulfilling our wider obligation to the sport by elevating the AIG Women’s Open, strengthening pathways in the elite amateur game and encouraging more people around the world to play golf. We believe that getting this balance right is vital to the long-term future of the sport.”
Prize Money shall be allocated only to professional golfers.
If more than 70 professional golfers qualify for the final two rounds, additional prize money will be added. Prize money will decrease by USD125 per qualifying place above 70 to a minimum of USD36,550.
Non-qualifiers after two rounds: Leading 10 professional golfers and ties USD12,000; next 20 professional golfers and ties USD10,000; remainder of professional golfers and ties USD8,500.
What do you do when things at work get stressful? I have my own method: There’s always a golf ball in my blazer pocket. If the stress level rises, I put my hand in my pocket, turn the ball between my fingers, close my eyes for a moment and stand on the golf course. That’s the in-between method. The real knockout against deadline pressure and heart palpitations comes after the working day ends. That’s when I get into the car and drive out to WINSTONgolf. At least once a week, and preferably every day. I park the car and switch off daily life when I stop the engine. Time for my passion; golf. I’ve been playing since childhood and I know a few courses. But nowhere is like here. Let’s visit it together. Then I’ll show you why.
The Driving Range: How I begin the game
At work I need to be forward-looking. On the driving range, I just look at my ball and am pleased with how well and far it flies. Most of the time, anyway. Here I always experience this wonderful mixture of sporting ambition when teeing off, and contemplation amidst the peace and vastness of the landscape all around me.
Today the sun is shining, but I really like to be here in any weather. And now imagine the “clack” of your ball as it takes a wonderful trajectory, and a second ball flies alongside behind it, hit much further and more professionally. You look to see who it was. And suddenly there he is – Bernhard Langer. That’s more or less how I experienced it during the WINSTONgolf Senior Open, where golf legends from all over the world tee off together. But there’s also an opportunity to meet Bernhard Langer here. He has been a WINSTONgolf brand ambassador for many years. And by the way, so has Johannes Veerman. You know him, the likeable player of the DP World Tour. Although I haven’t met him yet.
WINSTONlinks: My “outgrowing myself” course
Are you fit for the next round? Then up onto WINSTONlinks and into a real challenge. I must admit it: I failed miserably when I played the course for the first time. Driving into the wind, missing the fairway on the first tee shot, and off into a bunker. But I still felt like a winner. Because this course is also an experience for the eye: Wind-whipped dunes with gorse and sea buckthorn curve up to ten metres high into the distance. Deep sand traps in between, as if from volcanoes. And a buzzard soars in the skies above me. Cranes have also been watching. Maybe they would applaud me if they could. Because by now I’m really good and have mastered this course designed for professionals. No wonder champions love it, and they’ll be spending time on it during the Legends Tour in September. If you’re here for the first time or the next time – go ahead and take its challenge. You’ll find it worthwhile.
Do you love a change as much I do? Then the WINSTONopen course will inspire just as much as WINSTONlinks. Classic, challenging, with well-guarded greens and putting characteristics at their very best. A real championship course. And the view across a masterpiece of nature is included free of charge.
The quality of the courses is also a masterpiece. As if the greens were pure velvet. It feels great and plays that way too. This carries on through to the WINSTONkranich par 3 course, where I like to hone my short game. It’s a great place to warm up in before playing some really serious golf. Like on the WINSTONlinks, which I’m playing right now – in a happy mood to send the ball straight into the 18th hole.
We made it! And only 5 over par. I really must congratulate myself. Of course, it’s nicer when praise comes from someone else. From my friends, for example, who sometimes accompany me. Or from people I meet by chance on the course, and who love golf as much as I do. They come here from all over, and have a wide variety of tastes. But they are all the same in one respect: they are all relaxed. Especially after a successful round. Or after a good meal. Speaking of which: are you hungry? Then follow me to the clubhouse.
The golfing clubhouse: Open Sesame
Off the green and into enjoyment. Although in fact everything here is green. The people here are highly environmentally conscious. Exactly my wavelength. My car, for example, recharges at the e-charging station in front, I scarcely see any plastic, and my mouth waters when I think of my burger with organic meat from Jersey beef directly from the region.
Hello golf clubhouse! Did you ever see such an entrance door? So red and so big, but without making me feel small. And the automatic Open Sesame. The only thing missing is a red carpet. They wave at me from reception and I wave back. We know each other, and I feel at home. Slow down. The hustle and bustle are far away. I’m not surprised that WINSTONgolf has already carried off so many prizes. Certificate here, certificate there. “Golf Post Community Award 2023 – Number 1 in the ‘Course Condition’ category”, and alongside them various first places in different rankings. I feel it’s all in very good taste. Incidentally, also in the choice of my favourite restaurant – the RESTAURANTkranichhaus in the clubhouse.
A relaxed community
The sun patio is especially popular again today. At least one seat is still free, although there are already three guests sitting at the table. Maybe they were waiting for someone just like me. And lo and behold, I win a triple smile. The trio is from Cologne. A man around 40, well-tanned, chin beard; a woman, similar age, freckled and sympathetic; the woman’s sister, blond plait that wiggles amusingly when she talks. Cheerful Rhineland folk who are up here for the first time, and rave about the romantic wilderness of the north every bit as much as about the WINSTONgolf courses. The husband says they’ve already played them all several times, you can’t tear yourself away from the course, and there’s still so much to discover in Mecklenburg. His wife adds that this is true, and fortunately she, who doesn’t play golf at all, has plenty of time to explore. Her sister, like me, loves variety. The tension of the game during the day and relaxation in the evening.
They have two rooms at Kaarz Castle. Each room has its own style there, and the sister would love to move into a different one every day. And the park with redwood trees – a dream.
I tell the trio that I often forget time there at weekends, and that there’s a similarly beautiful place right next to the golf course: VORBECK MANOR, WINSTONgolf’s golfing hotel. With a fireplace in the foyer, the rippling river Warnow outside the window and a charming little café called HerzensGUT, which has the most delicious cakes just like my grandmother used to bake.
The woman with the freckles says she knows right away where she’s going tomorrow. Meanwhile, the man lets his gaze wander over the WINSTONopen course in the evening light, watching the last flights coming down the eighteenth hole, and seems to be working up an appetite for tomorrow.
The RESTAURANTkranichhaus: Meets my taste entirely
But for a moment, the delicious evening meal satisfies our appetite. Our table turns into a burger paradise: pulled beef with smoked bacon twice here, ground beef with bacon jam there, and black bean patty with cashew sauce over there. Simply delicious! The 3 Rhinelanders are also delightful, with their well-balanced holiday spirits. Talking about golf or putting the world to rights, we chat a while longer. I often meet people like that here. They simply make time stand still here, enjoy the moment and forget about tomorrow. Just like me. My everyday life seems far away, as if on another planet. Back to work the next day? Never mind. WINSTONgolf is not far away. And just in case, I always have my golf ball in my blazer.
Want to enjoy some time off at WINSTONgolf? Book now!
Originally, golf was not on our agenda when preparing our trip. For I had not known that golf was played in the country, whose Arab tribe of Hashemites goes back to the great-grandfather of the Prophet Mohammed.
I only became aware of this through the huge urban future project ‘Ayla’ in the city of Aqaba on the Gulf of the same name. In 2008, construction began on a super-modern holiday destination, including the Ayla Golf Club. It is located in the pulsating Ayla Oasis, the great impressions of which we will review at the end of our round trip.
But before that, we will visit Amman, Jerash, Bethany, Mount Nebo and Madaba, whose visits would be worth a separate report. From there we continue to the thousand-year-old rock city of Petra.
The early morning walk through The Siq, a narrow path surrounded by rock walls up to 90 m high and leading to Al-Khazneh/The Treasure House of the Nebateans, is a top highlight of our visit. Close behind ranks Ad Deir /The Monastery which requires further climbing up the valley almost 900 steps through Petra and rising up 200 m in altitude, offering breathtaking views.
Those who do not dare to make the walk through the gorge or the ascent alone can enlist the help of experienced four-legged professionals.
The overnight stay in a tented camp in the middle of the desert and the balloon ride over Wadi Rum are equally unforgettable.
We feel transported to the great scenes of the films ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, ‘The Martian’ and ‘Dunes’ which were filmed here, and still feel the desert sand on our skin and the bumpy tours on the back of the Bedouin pickup trucks.
Relaxation on the Gulf of Aqaba
After pillars, temples, rocks and sand, the sea calls. The coastal city of Aqaba is located in Jordan’s extreme south on the Red Sea, close to the border crossing with Israel. Its seaport is the only one in the country and the gateway to the rest of the world.
Aqaba is a free trade zone and has more than 150,000 inhabitants. It is located at the northernmost tip of the Gulf of the same name, a branch of the Red Sea, and is bordered on its western side by Israel and the Sinai Peninsula and on the eastern side by Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Surrounded by turquoise sea
We spend a few relaxing days at the five-star Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort, which is located just over four kilometres from the centre of the port city. It is surrounded by bright blue lagoons with water from the Red Sea and has 286 modern rooms and 43 suites.
All have a balcony or private terrace with a great view of the marina or the imposing, majestic mountains. Our Standard Bedroom on the 4th floor has purpose-built furnishings and offers beautiful views down to the golf course.
Hotel amenities include the La Plage Beach Club on the lagoon, a large relaxation area with infinity pool set amidst the perfectly maintained gardens, a luxurious Aqua Spa with Hammam, a gym and tennis courts.
Guests can choose between international and regional dishes in five restaurants and bars; we recommend them all! (alcohol is served to foreign guests in all of them).
Wi-Fi is free of charge and works well in the public areas, at the pool and in the beach club, and in our room most of the time.
The service of the staff is attentive and unobtrusive and fortunately we can communicate very well in English.
The resort has been awarded global Green Key Eco status in the hotel category, recognising its efforts and commitment to public health and sustainable environmental standards in tourism. These are felt throughout the resort, which is exceptionally clean and well maintained.
Staying at the pools and the hotel’s own stretch of beach on the lagoon in our customary swimwear is fine in this country, which is dominated by Islam. Local women wear a black suit that covers the entire body, including the head with only a small section left free for the face, hands and feet.
No fear of the great white shark
Just a few kilometres outside the resort are fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, where you can gaze at a variety of fish in the crystal clear waters. Sharks, such as the harmless giant whale shark, are also said to occur here.
We also encounter one of these species at Ayla Golf Club, as its designer is none other than Greg Norman, known as the ‘Great White Shark’. He designed the 18-hole par 72 championship course in 2016, which spreads over an area of 800,000 square metres and is harmoniously integrated into the original desert landscape.
A par 3 9-hole floodlit course and a Golf Academy with PGA-qualified pros and excellent practice facilities complete this comprehensive golf offering.
In harmony with nature
Specific requirements were given to the world-renowned company, Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD), to ensure the design interfered as little as possible with the environment and to comply with ecological aspects. The Ayla Oasis area, contaminated with over 60,000 mines from the Six-Day War in 1967, was first completely cleared and the golf course was built with excavated soil from the huge lagoon landscape.
Several artificial lakes and wadis were created that are fed by rainwater from the surrounding mountains mixed with lagoon water and serve as reservoirs for irrigation and act as stopovers for migratory birds, complementing the natural ecosystem. Most of the electricity is provided by solar panels.
Early bird tee time
The hotel shuttle takes us to the nearby clubhouse in five minutes. We start early in the morning, as in May, it is already 25 degrees at 7.00 a.m., though the heat is easily bearable due to the low humidity.
The wind that comes up during the round does not interfere with the game, but we find it blissfully cooling as the temperature rises.
Offering up fantastic views of the mountain scenery beyond, the open, mildly undulating course measures 7,152 yards from the back black tees. The fairways are gently curved but if you don’t find them, huge sandy waste areas await though in most cases you can play out of these quite easily. Water hazards come into play on half of the holes. Both fairways and greens are seeded with Paspalum grass, which is ideal for high temperatures.
Five different tee boxes offer on all 18 holes makes it amenable for all HCP classes.
Good conditioning in all areas
Its layout is most appealing, the conditioning well maintained. The grass of the fairways has some yellow patches at the moment as it is still in partial hibernation. We hit the countless, fairly deep bunkers more often than we would like, but since most of them are under renovation during our visit and marked as GUR, we continue playing without a penalty stroke. Those completed are boast gleaming fine, white sand.
There is nothing to criticise about the quality of the partly large, fast greens. They are true to track and a pleasure to play. Not only the course, but the entire facility is very well maintained, thanks to a team of 50 greenkeepers who do an excellent job. All the paths are paved and easy to negotiate with a buggy.
We are almost alone on the course and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the club, which currently has 120 members of the 400 players that exist in Jordan. As we learn from the friendly, South African Head Pro, Jason, about 5,000 green fees are currently sold per year. They would like to increase this moderately through targeted marketing measures and contribute to the Ayla Oasis developing more and more into an attractive, internationally recognised sporting and golf destination.
The Mena Tour, for example, has already made a stop here. In 2019, the Jordan Mixed Open was held for the first time, a tournament format in which players from the European Challenge Tour, the Staysure Tour and the Ladies European Tour took part under the motto ‘We share the same drive’.
In 2022, the idea was taken up of hosting the Jordan Open Golf Championship, in which men, women and juniors from 14 countries compete for victory.
We enjoy the fair course with its varied holes and undisturbed play.
An award-winning clubhouse
Just as impressive as the course and its practice facilities is the clubhouse with its extraordinary design. Paying homage to the Bedouin architectural heritage. Renowned architectural firm, Oppenheim Architecture & Design, designed the structure from undulating concrete in an organic, contemporary style.
Ahlan wa sahlan
We feel extremely welcome and safe at all times throughout our journey. Everywhere we are warmly welcomed and well looked after. The decision to take a trip organised by a tour operator with an experienced guide was spot on. Our guide studied in Germany and with his extensive knowledge gave us deep insights into the Arabic religion, culture and history, which we would never have been able to discover on our own in such a short time. If necessary, I will be happy to establish the relevant contacts.
In spring and autumn, Jordan is a great travel destination that now also offers golfers a new, attractive alternative, but coming here just to play golf would not do justice to the Arab country with its extensive range of offers. We were thrilled by the combination of culture, unique landscapes, well-appointed hotels, gastronomic delights and getting to know the Ayla Oasis with its superb golf course.