Transforming the Desert into a World-Class Golf Course in Abu Dhabi

Course director Corey Finn said that in this climate and environment, lawn care in Abu Dhabi is complex due to the use of water. He said the United Arab Emirates’ drinking water is obtained through desalination, but the golf course uses recycled water from nearby hotels and buildings.

This lower quality water poses challenges for Finn, but the whole process relies on six experts to ensure the pipes don’t leak, the sprinklers don’t block, and the system shuts down when prompted by the computer system.

This system also allows Finn and his crew to measure the amount of water the course receives. Measurements are taken each morning and the data is sent to a cloud server that puts usage on a map of each green and allows them to adjust usage.

To aid in this effort, the course uses paspalum, a type of grass that grows in saltwater. Because of how Yas Links needs to take care of their lawn, the paspalum species suffers when it rains.

Finn said that to maintain high-quality turf, they often need to add more water to remove salt and minerals from the soil, and this sometimes allows them to wait a week before watering again.

The challenge for the tournament, which has moved from Abu Dhabi Golf Club to the other end of town 16 years later, is twofold. Southorn said the mat is a sticky turf that can hold the ball, making it a challenge for golfers who don’t play often on such surfaces. And for the club, the greens and fairways are all matted, making mowing easy, while the tournament comes during the winter months and peak tourist season when the course is at its most played and adds additional stress to the lawn.

“So we do 150 to 200 laps a day, which means 100 golf carts are rolling on the grass,” Southorn said.

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