• Ayla Golf Club – Jordan Comes Alive

    It’s first 18-hole grass golf course is transforming the Aqaba Seaport into a world-class business hub and travel destination. As the designer of the first championship golf course in Jordan, I am thrilled that the entire course has been grassed and that the Signature golf course will be ready for invitational play towards the end of the year. This is a crucial step in bringing Jordan and Aqaba to the forefront of the region’s tourism industry.

    • Worldwide Golf Magazine
    This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Worldwide Golf Magazine.

    With the combination of our strong Greg Norman brand and the superior facilities and amenities offered at Ayla, we believe the level of quality at this project is truly unmatched.

    Overlooking the scenic views of the Red Sea, the Ayla Golf Club Jordan has been artfully master-planned from the impressive Marina Village, to the five-star hotel offerings, to the real estate, to the golf course and beyond. The stunning water features and eco-friendly landscaping throughout the property makes Ayla a true oasis and is a perfect reflection of the region’s finest attributes.

    I am particularly captivated by the surrounding architecture that mirrors the rolling mountains and dune formations of the vast desert landscape.

    In addition to our 18-hole Championship golf course, Ayla Golf Club Jordan will offer a teaching academy, a 9-hole par-3 course and a state-of-the-art driving range for locals and visitors, providing them with the opportunity to learn and develop their game on the best facilities in the region.

    Upon the completion and the build-out, this project will create hundreds of permanent jobs and will be strategically important for Jordan’s sustainable economic development. The long-term vision for Ayla Golf Club Jordan will most certainly play a key role in transforming the Aqaba seaport into a world-class business hub and travel destination. I am personally committed to the Middle East and have been for more than a decade. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the initial growth of the game in Dubai many years ago and feel that bringing a similar level of golf to Jordan has the potential to have the same impact.

    Last November’s DP World Tour Championship, won by Rory McIlroy, was the seventh running of The European Tour’s end of season climax played on the Earth course we created at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The Fire course at JGE, which we also designed, is expected to host the Grand Final in the near future.

    Another of the courses we designed in the Middle East, Almouj Golf, The Wave, at Muscat in Oman, last year hosted the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final of the European Challenge Tour, having hosted the penultimate event on the Challenge Tour in 2013 and 2014. The Grand Final takes place again in November at Almouj, which, set along the spectacular shoreline of the Gulf of Oman, has received worldwide acclaim. I fully expect golf to continue to develop in the Middle East and I look forward to assisting in this endeavour and serving as an ambassador to this great game in a region I feel so passionate about.

    With golf becoming an Olympic sport this summer, the international growth of the game will increase exponentially. There are 118 member countries in the International Golf Federation, many of which will now receive government funding to support grass roots development. A huge expansion is imminent in many parts of the world and the Middle East is no exception.

    My hope is that the return of golf to the Olympics will be a success in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and that they vote it back in again for 2020. But my fear is that they have chosen the wrong place to re-introduce golf, as Brazil is a country where golf is not exactly mainstream.

    Had our sport returned to the Olympics to Australia, England or the United States, where golf courses are of a higher quality, then the delivery would be a lot easier. There is just so much underlying uncertainty about the course in Brazil and the structure on the periphery, with ownership and environmental concerns. That worries me a lot. It’s a really important moment because if we fail, then golf may not get back into the Olympics for another 100 years.

    Golf benefits society, and accelerating the growth of the game and expanding its accessibility will improve the quality of life for those who are introduced to its positive values.

    It is crucial to effectively and consistently communicate golf’s economic, human and environmental contributions to society. My congratulations go out to Dubai and the UAE, Oman, Jordan, Qatar and the Middle East in general for doing such an incredible job of this.

    Greg Norman Golf Course Design Promise of Sustainability

    With rapid development often times comes legitimate environmental concerns. As a golf course designer, my challenge is to create aesthetically pleasing yet playable courses, each with a distinct look and feel.

    I like to “begin with the end in mind” on each and every project I embark upon and I pride myself on finding the most desirable natural features and incorporating them into the routing. Our “least-disturbance” design approach is integrated into each project we handle and results in courses that blend seamlessly with their surroundings and appear as if they have been part of the landscape for generations. For all of us at Greg Norman Design, sustainability is integral to how we do business. With 7 billion people on our planet, the earth’s resources can be strained. Consequently, We believe that we have a responsibility to our customers, to the communities and to the environment in which we have a presence. This means sustainability is the only acceptable model for our business.

    Chris White, Director of Operations, Ayla Aqaba

    It's an exciting time at the Ayla Golf Club Jordan right now. All that largely remains is for Mother Nature to lend a supporting hand. As in many parts of the world, Aqaba Jordan is coming out of its slightly cooler winter months with temperatures now rising to 21-24 degrees.

    The newly planted grass is starting to show signs of life. The cooler winter months saw the purposefully selected Paspallum Platinum grass drift into dormancy with little or no growth. This period allowed the Ayla Golf Club Jordan construction team to finish off pending tasks.

    The native rough areas were hydro-seeded (quite literally spraying areas of the golf course with a blend of water and organic mulch), with four varieties of seeds in the mix. Final bunker shaping and construction was completed with the edges turfed for protection and kilometres of interlocking cart paths were hand laid, while local new recruits continue to be trained in the art and skill of green keeping – Ayla Golf Club Jordan is certainly coming alive.

    The next five to six months have been programmed for the maintenance team to take advantage of the warmer weather and complete the final grow-in of this world-class Championship golf course ready for invitational play towards the end of the year.

    In parallel with this, the luxurious state-of-the-art Golf Academy, which will initially be home to all golf operations, is well underway. The spectacular iconic architecture adds yet further quality and style to this already amazing project. Its swing studios, putting lab, all-day dining restaurant and terrace, club repair workshop and boutique pro-shop will soon be open to all.

    Ayla’s Chairman Khalid Masri and Managing Director Sahl Dudin are finally seeing the vision of the masterplan vision coming to life. As non-golfers their introduction to the game has begun in playing four holes of the front nine. The entire Ayla team, the Aqaba community and Jordan as a whole are eagerly awaiting the opening of the country’s first championship golf venue and with a fully floodlit Par-3 course it is only a matter of time before Jordan produces some new golfing talent.

    Ayla Managing Director Sahl Dudin

    Ayla Golf Course is one of a number of leisure and entertainment elements at Ayla that includes beaches, play areas, interactive zones and a world-class marina. The routing and design of the golf course was made to ensure maximum gain from the residential plots that border the course.” As we now begin to release to the marketplace our Golf Residence community, the actual sales apartment enables potential home owners to fully appreciate the spectacular view of Greg Norman’s course and the Red Sea beyond. It really is breathtaking.

    This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Worldwide Golf Magazine, the official magazine of the Emirates Golf Federation and the Arab Golf Federation.