Q&A with Ernie Els on his ‘The Els Club’

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams October 25, 2011 13:38

Golf Club Management: Tell me about Dubai Sports City and your relationship with it.

Ernie Els: The whole project at Dubai Sports City [the world’s first purpose-built sports city] is incredibly exciting – I mean, I think it’s fair to say there is nothing else like it in the world.

I’ve been coming to Dubai since 1994. I’ve always had a special affinity with the city as it has grown. I’ve also been pretty successful in the Dubai Desert Classic. When I saw the plans for Dubai Sports City, I knew that this was going to be a great project. And being able to design a golf course in Dubai – you know, that’s pretty special!

GCM: Has the course design emerged how you originally saw it?

EE: Yeah, definitely. We felt that we could create a desert style links and I think that’s exactly what we’ve achieved. Working with Greg Letsche and the Els Design team, I think that they’ve done a great job in shaping the course. The greens will mature and the bunkers are tough. I also think that the desert wind gives the course a good links feel.

GCM: Why ‘The Els Club’?

EE: The Els Club is the first of a select number of chosen projects that will bear my name.

They will comprise of an 18-hole signature Els Design course plus a unique hospitality offer in the clubhouse – good food, great bars and a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with great service from the moment you arrive. Basically, everything you want in a great day’s golf. We’ll also definitely serve my wine! Hopefully, the formula will be the best of all the clubs where I have played over the last 25 years.

GCM: How many Els Clubs do you expect to build over the coming years?

EE: I don’t know. Time will tell on that one. We have no specific plans today. The important thing is that we are looking for the right opportunities in the right locations around the world. Places likes South Africa, the UK and the US are obvious potential locations given my links with all three. But I am keen to explore the potential in some of golf’s emerging markets such as China, India and the Far East.

GCM: How do you want The Els Club to be viewed by members and visitors?

EE: For the members, that they enjoy a great course with a fun clubhouse. For the visitors, that they walk away having had a great day on and off the golf course.

GCM: Where do you feel that this course sits amongst your global designs to date?

EE: That’s for others to judge. You mature as a designer and I genuinely feel that this is a great course. I am very proud of what we’ve achieved here. I’m confident it will rank amongst the best golf courses in the Middle East for many years to come.

GCM: Which is the best hole in your view?

EE: There are several holes which spring to mind: The ninth is a long par four which plays downwind in the morning and upwind in the afternoon. The 12th is inspired by Muirfield in Scotland. The 16th is a great risk / reward short par four. It is drivable. The 17th is the best par three while the 18th is great par five finishing hole.

GCM: Is The Els Club environmentally friendly?

EE: We’re always careful about the impact on the environment. For example, we’ve created wetlands and lakes which will encourage both birds and fish to flourish at The Els Club. Right now we’re testing solar panel golf carts to reduce electricity consumption. We have also sourced trees and vegetation from sustainable forests or carbon neutral nurseries worldwide.

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams October 25, 2011 13:38
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: