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Yas Links, business or pleasure??

Sitting 6 miles north west of Abu Dhabi International Airport, Yas Links is only a 10 minute drive which is need given the flight time is twice that compared with many popular golfing destinations in Europe from the UK. That said, once you’re here you’ll realise that this isn’t like European golf resorts, and all the wives tales you’ve herd about the UAE, its time to throw them out the window. Yas Island, home to the Links is also home to Yas Marina F1 circuit, Ferrari world with the worlds fastest rollercoaster, Warner Bros World, waterparks, huge shopping malls, bars and clubs, not to mention a host of luxury hotels.


Being in Abu Dhabi makes Yas Links a perfect location for the end of the year when most of Europe is falling into a freeze, Yas will still be seeing heat most Brits would call positively barmy! This makes it not only a superb holiday getaway but due to its local surroundings its a perfect destination for intimate corporate events. From one to one meetings or smaller team sales events, Yas Links has a fine tuned private and personal approach thats symbolised from the first moment when you collect the keys to your personally named changing locker.


Open in 2010 Yas is a first class golf facility boasting a world top 50 course designed by Kyle Philips and a floodlit 9 hole academy course and practice area. With beautiful view of the Arabian Gulf to one side, Yas Marina F1 circuit, Ferrari Wold and probably your hotel to the other, its an amazing setting for an equally amazing golf course. Playing up to almost 7,500 yards its got five tee positions for those looking to adjust the difficulty making it perfect if you’re out on business as you’ll not want to talk a deal if the course is giving you a beating. The front nine plays wider and probably easier to score compare to the back nine which slowly tightens up to offer some real risk and reward golf, particular the final stretch.


With such a quality course there are almost too many standout holes to mention but an early favourite is the dogleg 3rd which hugs the coast-line for 400 yards with your approach shot to the eight bunker guarded green. Bunkers are something that you’ll have to get used to seeing at Yas Links with game management of the upmost importance, particularly if the wind wants to blow, things can get tricky. The 4th is a great long par 3 with an amazingly undulating green making for some testing pin positions. Its the 9th where things start to change, and from the off your first tee shot is a tight one over the water calling for great accuracy otherwise you’ll give yourself a tricky second. 


The whole back nine slides down the strip of land besides Ferrari World and the Yas Marina circuit until turning back on its self, tightly hugging the waters edge. The 12th and 15th have a nice links double green touch so if you miss the serious bunkers guarding the green you could still be left with a lengthy put of some distance. It’s the closing holes that you’ll go home remembering, even if its because you left a few balls in the Arabian Gulf due to the typical head on wind. With small greens and thin fairways the 16th is a nervy test. The 17th is a majestic par three and with all the carry and a fair bit of wind it’s a good result to hold the green. Slightly right sided shots will end up in the dip leaving for a tricky piece of short play to get down for par. The the round is then topped off with an epic finish at the lengthy par 5 18th. You’ll be given a few questions on where to play before you even get to the green and will play really long especially if that wind comes in head on which it usually does. 


Yas Links is defiantly a venue worth traveling to, even if you’re visiting Dubai as its well within a two hour drive. At the end of the game you’ll need to freshen off in the rainfall shower even if you did take the cart guy up on a much need cool lolly and enjoy the Spanish style clubhouse. The food is superb and often supported by events, but if that not your thing then outdoor seating has a beautiful view across the back nine for a perfectly relaxing view with a beer. Just don’t forget your sun cream and plenty of water.

Uphold your brand values on the fairway?

As a PGA Professional who hosts Corporate Golf Events and Holidays I have seen first hand that not everyone is aware of basic etiquette most of us take for granted on the golf course. With this in mind I thought I would put together my top etiquette tips so you know next time your out on the course, you won’t annoy your playing partners or letting your company brand down. Especially with corporate events it’s important that you represent the values of your business both on and off the course.

Pace of play;

It’s always important for you and your playing partners on the course to keep up with the group ahead. If you find yourself in a position where your group has lost an entire hole of those players in front, please let the group behind through if you are holding them up.

Stand still and in silence when other people are taking their shot;

This one is an important one if you want to keep on friendly terms with your playing partners. From the moment your playing partner is choosing their club it is etiquette to stay silent until they hit their shot. No player wants to be put off halfway through their swing as it’s hard to pull out and almost always results in a poor shot. The last thing you want is to be blamed for them mishitting a shot even if your chatting wasn’t the reason, they’ll still blame you, even if they don’t say it.

Repair the golf course;

It’s our duty as golfers to make sure we repair the damage we create on the course. How would you like it if you’ve hit your Sunday best only to find yourself in an old fairway divot. Even if you take the fairway divot and bits fly all over the place, just make it look like you’ve tried to fix it. These are a few of the most common:

• Pitch marks on the green
• Divots – Just not on tee boxes
• Rake bunkers

When to play your shot;

The person who is farthest away from the hole plays first. To speed up play try to prepare for your shot whilst other people are playing. The player who had the lowest score on the previous hole tees off first.

Etiquette for when you are on the green;

This is where everyone has to be a little more aware of where their playing partners are. Thankfully fully spiked shoes aren’t really worn anymore so the damage you can make to a green and accidentally sabotage your partners chances of holing a putt are limited. Still there are ways players will expect you to respect their upcoming shot and stepping across and on their line before their putt isn’t one of them. Other ways you can respect your playing partners around the green are:

• Mark your ball with a coin so the other players aren’t distracted
• Don’t stand in eye view of anyone whilst they are taking their shot

Lend a hand;

Who’s happy after hitting a poor shot resulting in them stomping through the trees or thick grass looking for a ball. Chances is they’re not so happy so if your partner finds themselves not being able to find their ball, then be on hand to help them find it – its always handy to have the favour returned should you need it!

Keep your cool;

We all know golf is a very frustrating game, but you need to make every effort for your playing partners sake to manage any frustration in as silent way as possible. Particularly when playing a corporate event you’re not only representing yourself but the business brand you work for. Your company no doubt works hard to portray a brand image and a culture, so it’s your responsibility that you try and uphold the business values at all times. Not to mention, it’s not the most pleasant experience playing with someone who loses their temper but whilst you are vocalising your frustration your playing partner might be trying to concentrate on their shot routine.

Is the Golf Course the Perfect Office??

It is extremely common for people to regale stories of important business deals being done whilst on the golf course, and it is widely acknowledged that golf days can be hugely beneficial to bonding within a team of co-workers or with current and future clients. There are huge potential benefits to be had when playing golf, not only to your physical and mental health, but you will also notice it within your social circle, and potential business opportunities. Taking a meeting, or hosting an event, out of the office in the peaceful confines of nature, allows for deeper and more beneficial relationships.

A typical round of golf will take approximately 4-5 hours, this gives you plenty of time to really get to know your playing partners in an space that is comfortable, serene and completely free from the constraints that surround a typical office based meeting. The fresh air and beautiful scenery make for a wonderfully relaxing environment, and the exercise and competitive nature of the game can bring out characteristics that would not surface in a restrictive office setting. Most people while in this state of mind, will be more open to discuss personal matters, quickly moving past small talk and any barriers they may have subconsciously or unconsciously raised. This makes it the perfect environment to really get to know your client, understand their wants and needs, and allows you to foster trust and subsequently build a long-lasting more fruitful relationship. 

Team Building and Bonding

As mentioned previously, the hours spent engulfed in nature can really help new and existing relationships to flourish. This can be helpful from a purely sales and business perspective, but it can also be invaluable when it comes to team building and nurturing friendships both new and old. Staff well-being and happiness is incredibly important in today’s world, and it is widely acknowledged that a team with a strong bond produces much better results. A team golf day can be a huge step forward in building the necessary connections needed to establish the values that are essential for a team to be truly successful. People will get to know each other better in a fun, relaxed setting that will encourage them to let their guard down and be comfortable being themselves. They will also awaken their competitive edge, and test themselves in an environment completely different to that of the generic office. This could lead to people playing together of their own accord in the future, better relationships at work and general good feeling amongst staff, all of which are key contributors to building a happy and successful work environment. Of course this all applies to clients as well as colleagues, and it is a well-established fact that ‘people buy from people’. Getting to know someone on a personal level and building deeper connections will ensure you are at the forefront of their mind when the next business opportunity arises. 

A True Test of Character

Anyone who has played golf before will testify to the fact that it provides a stern test of skill, character and self-control. What better way than to really understand someone’s character, whether they be a colleague, business partner or client than to play what is widely regarded as one of the most challenging sports available. 

Golf can be incredibly frustrating as it is you and only you that can take responsibility for how you play. One minute you flush a drive down the fairway and feel like Tiger Woods at his peak, the next you hook the ball out of bounds and feel like giving up entirely. The up and down nature of golf really highlights how people manage their temper, deal with situations not going their way and can also be an accurate representation of their honesty. 

Often you will see people on the golf course cursing, throwing tantrums and sometimes even clubs! How your clients and partners control themselves when they inevitably hit a bad shot can be a real eye opener to their personality and particularly their susceptibility to crack under pressure. These situations can provide more insight than years of working alongside one another or having meetings in a controlled environment where the boundaries are already well established and easier to stay within. Golf is a sport played wholly on trust with ample opportunity to cheat should someone be so inclined. Whether it be moving your ball out of a bad lie, dropping another ball when yours is lost or simply ‘miscounting’ shots it is another useful insight into someone’s character. Through observation you will be able to tell a lot about your playing partners’ integrity and sportsmanship and it may reveal some key things about them that you may want to bear in mind before entering into a business relationship. It is also worth remembering that you will be under scrutiny as well and your conduct on the course is a strong representation of how you handle yourself outside of a work environment.

If you would like to find out more about the golf holidays and events we offer, you can contact us here.

The inside scoop?

Clubs Away was co-founded by a PGA Golfing Professional, Michael. His passion for golfing started when he was just 4 years old. He is not only an experienced player, but also provides golf coaching at all levels. With 5 PGA competition titles under his belt during his amateur career, Michael graduated from the PGA with distinctions in all Coaching and Business assignments and exams.

It is this determination and dedication that Michael puts into the world of corporate hospitality, and he works with some of the world’s largest organisations. Clubs Away was formed around the idea that sometimes the best way to close a deal is over a round of golf. We take the time to fully understand your business needs and requirements, taking everything out of your hands so you can enjoy the entire experience.

 

Who are Clubs Away?

Our mission is simple: to improve your business with corporate golf events and golfing holidays. We help you to get the most out of any event, whatever the objective. Our bespoke, complete service is tailored to your individual needs. Whether you’re putting together a team building day, charity fundraiser or an opportunity to close business leads, our expert team is on hand to help.

We think differently when it comes to creating the perfect corporate hospitality event. By holding an initial consultation to understand your business in its entirety, we help you target the most achievable outcomes with your event. We have named our approach the ‘Power of Play’ – we’re here to help you to bring different ideas into play. Creative thinking developed through play helps create better networking opportunities, build more profitable relationships and enhance team dynamics.

 

What do we offer

Clubs Away use golf to drive your business performance forward. The main packages we offer are corporate golf events and handpicked holidays. We have a team of in-house designers to cater for your branding needs too, and a golf simulator powered by leading tracking software if you want to stay a little closer to home.

 

World-class corporate golf events

Whether you ‘re hosting a golf event for 2 people or 200, we can cater to your needs. With an experienced team of event planners and PGA professionals, Clubs Away pride ourselves on an innovative approach. Our aim is to create a bespoke event, which not only exceeds all your expectations, but those of your guests too.

Our unique events are created from a selection of handpicked 5* venues, and our event management system takes care of everything so you don’t have to. We are the only travel and events company to provide a PGA professional host to support your event too, allowing extensive business development opportunities.

 

High-quality golfing holiday packages

Our holiday packages are put together by our experienced team, who have spent time at some of the finest golf courses and hotels across the world, bringing you an in-depth insight into the selection. But don’t worry, the world’s best courses don’t always come with the largest price tags. With our well-recognised team of PGA Pros helping you put together your ideal holiday, you can rest assured we’ll bring you the best possible deals.

Once we’ve helped you put together your package, your work is complete. We take care of all the finer details, from arranging flights to booking accommodation, making your golfing holiday as stress-free and relaxing as possible. We don’t just promise 5* golf travel – we deliver it.

 

Our team of PGA professionals

The main thing that sets us apart from the competition is the inclusion of a PGA professional within all our corporate golf events and holidays. We are the only golf travel company in the industry to offer this service.

From start to finish, our world-class professional will guide you through the event planning, acting as a local guide, coach and organiser.

How our team can make your event memorable:

Consultation

The initial meeting you have will be with one of our PGA Pros, to gain an insight into your objectives. With many years of experience under their belt, they are more than happy to provide innovative ideas and recommendations.

Local knowledge

Our Pros will use not only their expertise, but their connections in order to get you perks that other companies simply can’t. Whether you want to stay in the best suite in the resort or dine at a private table exclusively for professional golfers, our team will be able to assist.

World-class coaching

With all their experience and knowledge, you will have access to the same level of coaching of any PGA great themselves. All our Pros have been on European and US Tours, teaching some of the best players in the world. You really are in the best hands.

 

Golf simulator

We have recently introduced a golf simulator into our array of services, allowing you to play on some of the finest golf courses in the world without the hassle of having to travel there. Combined with innovative, cutting-edge radar software Trackman to analyse your golfing techniques, you can step into the pro world and join leading coaches and players.

Does this all sound like something you’re interested in? If you’re focused on creating a corporate golfing event that will drive your business forward, contact our expert team today for an initial consultation.

Why is Abu Dhabi the new Algarve?

With a new year coming up quicker than ever its time to think differently about golf event management and try something new, a new kind of new year’s resolution. Historically you’ve probably stomped the fairways up and down the likes of Portugal and Spain, maybe even Bulgaria looking for a bit of sun with a swing. It could be your first winter away but there’s one jewel of a location that probably hasn’t gone unnoticed but doesn’t quite lure you away from the good old faithful Europe. Where is this mysterious golfing paradise we talk about… The Middle East!

Ok I get it, Portugal and Spain are 2 hours on a plane, where as the dessert takes a good 7 hours, but once your there it’s a trip well worth making. You’ve may have thought about going to the Middle East and asked google and thought… ‘this doesn’t sound too inviting’, where’s my brochure to Portugal again. Error 1: You can probably ignore almost all that you’ve heard, I think I probably heard all the same stories. I always started to think about the reasons why I shouldn’t go because of what I heard from friends, “Women are not allowed certain places and they are not allowed to show any skin if outside the resort”, “if you get caught drunk in the street then you’ll be arrested and sent to jail” and lastly “the people are not very welcoming”. Once out of the airport it didn’t take long to realise how wrong I was and how welcoming and safe I felt.

In June this year I was invited along with our Marketing Director, David, to Yas Links in Abu Dhabi by the Director of Golf, James Ibbotson and his team for what is called in the trade a FAM Trip (Familiarisation trip). This is something that Clubs Away insists on doing with all it’s resorts promoted on the website as we only recommend resorts with first hand experience. When James invited us to visit Abu Dhabi we had the exact same reservations and questioned whether Yas felt like a resort we could successfully promote in the UK.

After a slightly more roomy 7-hour flight from Heathrow on the new Dreamliner we finally landed in Abu Dhabi. I have to admit that it was no different to landing in any Western country, people were polite, spoke fluent English, the airport worked in exactly the same way as any other airport… Was my perceptions of the Middle East changing? After we went through baggage claim we were welcomed by James and Charlotte from Yas Links who were hosting us for the entire trip. Then it was out of the ice cool airport air con and outside to be welcomed by a warm gust of dessert air.

Our first night we stayed in the Crowne Plaza on Yas Island. Again the experience was something that I didn’t really expect, checking in was just the same as checking into any western hotel, polite, friendly and spoke amazing English. At reception we were informed about ‘ladies night’ at Stills Bar which is attached to the Crown Plaza. Ladies Night is an initiative by all the resorts on the Island to create a welcoming vibe to all women who are visiting Abu Dhabi, a sign that Abi Dhabi acknowledge there being an issue with how holiday makers that are women perceive the UAE and its treatment of women. Their attitude to women that are holiday makers is far different to that within their own culture, all women on Ladies Night get free drinks, can dress how they wish and most of all are encouraged to have a good time as you should when you are on holiday. The initiative works and this is where I realised that Abu Dhabi was going to be a very different place to my initial perception. It was more like Cancun on spring break!

The following day we were invited to play golf at Yas Links by James and his team. Voted in the Top 50 courses in the world by Golf World the expectations were already very high. Disappointed? NO! Quite the opposite!

From the very moment you drive into the property and are met and seen through by security you already know that you are visiting somewhere quite special, when you arrive at the Clubhouse you are met by the golf operations team who take care of everything, from taking your clubs out of the car, to taking you into the clubhouse and showing you to your own personal locker for the day. Before we teed off we were given a quick tour of the clubhouse and I realised that this was more than just a golf club, this was a place to come for the day, not just to play golf but to eat and drink, relax by the outdoor pool or have a lesson and practice on the driving range no matter what standard you are. This golf club definitely deserves a tagline ‘Don’t just play, stay the day!’

The facilities at the resort are nothing short of fabulous and impeccably presented but this doesn’t really mean much if the delivery within the venue isn’t up too much. Yas Links provides the finishing touches that match this amazing venue. There are some very subtle touches where a lot of resort courses forget about, for example, the sheer heat of the dessert hits you by the 4th hole and you actually can’t believe how hot it is. So Yas Links thought of the perfect touch to provide its guests at this point – an ice lolly! So simple but so welcoming, especially depending on what time part of the day! Later on in the round they also greet you with a keenly welcomed ice cold towel. Another nice touch is that you have water dispensers every few holes that dispenses ice cold water free of charge. I have travelled the world playing at some of the best resorts in the world and there aren’t many that wouldn’t take the opportunity to charge an inflated price for something someone would be desperate for!

After tackling the last few signature holes and hopefully keeping a dry ball your welcomed to get wet yourself and freshen up under the rain shower in the changing rooms. You can even take a dip by the pool and ease down in the steam room before returning to the club house for a bite to eat. At Yas they have both indoor and outdoor dining, overlooking the 18th green with the iconic F1 track and sea view. If your lucky enough to stay around till the evening then you can sit down to a beautiful sunset before heading back to the hotel.

The hotels on Yas Island are intentionally run by Western hotel management groups to provide its guests with a feeling of home, these management groups include; Crown Plaza, Rotana, Radisson and Hilton. One of the great things about Abu Dhabi is that it recognises that tourists feel uneasy about travelling to the middle east because of the hearsay you can read on search engines and review sites. When you start to look deep into what the UAE is trying to achieve to overcome its perception to potential tourists goes far and beyond creating a western feel in the hotels. One thing that really surprised when I arrived at Abu Dhabi was the advertisement of ‘Ladies Night’. The concept is a simple one, it a welcome and not just to women. ‘Ladies Night’ will typically be hosted by different bars at different days of the week, its communicating to the guests of Yas Island that they want you to have a good time, that they want you to have a drink should you wish to and you won’t get arrested if you are found having consumed alcohol. Of course the Middle East have a different set of beliefs to ours in the Western world, they don’t drink, they don’t gamble and yes maybe they have different relationships with their spouses that we don’t necessarily understand however, the key message I have when I write this article is that it isn’t imposed on you as a tourist. Of course you will be expected to have a certain respect for their beliefs, but we should, we are visiting their country after all and I think this is one of the things that should be embraced when we travel.

The evening is when Yas comes alive and you really know this is an island built for entertainment. Maybe you might go for a relaxing cocktail at the Viceroy Skybar overlooking the F1 Marina circuit, watch your favourite band at the Forum or party the night away down at the marina bars and clubs, there really is something for everyone. Literally so much choice, even for some of the more health conscious, you can take an evening jog around the F1 circuit when its opened up to the public.

I think the perception since arriving has totally changed and as Clubs Away, we can’t wait to build packages for our clients so they can enjoy the exquisite experience that Abu Dhabi and Yas Links has to offer. With so much going on in the world of sport with the Rugby Seven’s, Formula 1 and Horse racing happening, combined with the tourist destinations like Ferrari World and Warner Bros (soon to be completed) the options are huge. With all this wrapped up on one island makes this a great alternative to Europe and far more attractive for those looking for a round in the winter months.

We think you might be pleasantly surprised by the packages we can put together so why get in touch about our PGA hosted holidays to Yas Links.

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