For our first event of 2022, we exchanged the freezing weather of the UK for the welcoming desert heat of Abu Dhabi. The UAE capital basks in perfect temperatures at this time of year, and we were certainly not disappointed. With clear blue skies and the thermometer hitting the mid to high seventies each day, we couldn’t have asked for more.
After registration in the hotel the night before, the group set out for the first-day’s play at the Gary Player designed, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Set on Saadiyat Island, the layout is the only true oceanfront course in the UAE. Amongst the many sand and water hazards, herds of gazelles freely roam the course keeping an eye on any stray golf balls. With immaculate fairways and putting surfaces, if the vast bunkers could be avoided, a good score was achievable.
Many couples returned scores in the high 30’s, and it looked like the leaderboard was going to be very congested. Then the ever consistent Steve & Liz Shepherd broke out of the pack and posted a fabulous 40pts. Unfortunately, their lead did not last long, for the very next group consisted of Jonathan & Anna Sisson. After checking their card, they signed for an incredible 45pts. After the first round, the Royal Norwich pair had dovetailed beautifully and led the field by five shots.
The group headed back to base and shared a wonderful group dinner in the evening at Saaci’s, the Hotel’s Italian restaurant. Plenty of wine was consumed late into the evening, and talk turned to the next day’s play and taking on the No.1 ranked course in the UAE, Yas Links.
Today we got to walk in the footsteps of some of the best players in the world, including Rory Mcilroy & Collin Morikawa! The European Tour had played the HSBC Championship at Yas Links just a few days before, so we knew we were in for a treat judging by the comments of the professional players. Most of our group acknowledged they had never played a golf course in such superb condition. The playing surfaces were immaculate, with tees and fairways better than most putting surfaces back at home.
First to return to the clubhouse was the low-handicap duo from Wales, John Jones & Angela-Thomas Jones. They had coped well with the demanding test as they signed for a magnificent 42pts.
But was this going to be matched by any pair from the rest of the field? Andy & Barbara Babbage carded a solid 38pts. Late in the day the Corhampton pair of Peter & Julie Morgan fired a fabulous 39pts. Yet, the Welsh Wizards remained unmatched.
Today there was no need to travel as the couples could almost fall out of bed onto the first tee. The Westin Abu Dhabi Hotel overlooks “The National” course and has held the HSBC Championship on the European Tour no fewer than 16 times. Saltwater lakes, ornamental trees and palms make for an oasis-like setting. Yet at the same time, the lush playing surfaces, bold strategic bunkering coupled with large greens test the golfer in every department.
Another hot day kicked off on the first tee with each player being introduced by microphone by a slightly over-excited starter. Today was moving day and the title was up for grabs! Our two leaders, the Jones’s and Sisson’s, were playing together in the second group out so they would know what was needed. The battle was close with the Welsh couple just coming out on top after shooting another solid score of 40pts. They had been super consistent all week and thoroughly deserved the title of “Abu Dhabi Mixed Pairs” champions.
A special mention goes to “best of the day” score of 41pts by Alex and Alice Greatwood, significantly as Alex had damaged his hand in the morning, which required strapping!
A fabulous week ended with the crowning of our new champions at our final presentation dinner. After five days of perfect weather and immaculate golf courses, we all agreed there’s no better place in the world to play golf in January.
We’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff at The Westin Abu Dhabi for taking great care of all of our needs during our stay. A special mention to Chandra, the concierge, who was a complete legend throughout the week.
The Final Score
Winners: John Jones & Angela Thomas-Jones 39 + 42 +40 Total 121pts
2nd Place: Jonathan & Anna Sisson 45 + 35 + 36 Total 116pts
3rd Place: Peter & Julie Morgan 32 + 39 + 38 Total 109pts c/b
Congratulation to all our Winners!