The 5th hole at Al Mouj
The island green concept has been an architectural element for quite some time. The one that has garnered the most publicity is the famed 17th at TPC Sawgrass - the annual home for The Players event on the PGA Tour.
Other facilities globally have attempted numerous variations of the same concept. Sadly, many have been nothing more than poor imitators.
There are clear exceptions, and one of them comes from the handiwork of former world number one player and renowned course designer Greg Norman.
“One golf course that is close to my heart is Al Mouj Golf, The Wave in Muscat,” said Norman. “It is one of the finest golf courses I have designed anywhere in the world.”
The 5th hole at Al Mouj Golf showcases a testing examination and much of that stems from a creative usage of teeing area and the manner by which the putting surface is shaped.
When standing on the championship tee you face a green shaped like a light bulb: flared out and more receptive to the rear area, but narrowing down considerably in the front. The flatness of the terrain accentuates a feeling of unease as it appears as if there is less green available than there actually is.
“The first par-3 of Al Mouj sets the tone for the entire golf course,” said Marcus Casey, head golf professional. “Standing on the tee box you are distracted by the abundance of birdlife that Al Mouj Golf has become known for. The hole’s island green appears smaller than it actually is and players have to contend with playing into the prevailing wind.”
One of the key strengths of the hole is its versatility. There is a separate teeing area for higher handicap golfers to use and the angle from that area not only shortens the hole but it also provides for a wider landing area. Nonetheless, the need to marry proper club selection in concert with quality execution is a front and centre requirement.
“A well hit mid-to-short iron is needed to reach the target and is often accompanied by a sigh of relief for every golfer that hits the green,” said Casey.
Island greens are the epitome of “do or die” golf. While the physical dimension of the golf is clearly an issue - it is the mental stress that must be overcome in order to secure the best result.
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