Hitting the Links, Desert Style

by Jeff Kaiser

AMMAN — Tucked into the rugged, arid hills just 14km from Amman, the 9-hole “brown” Bisharat Golf Course offers a truly unique golfing experience. Jordan’s desert landscape is not a natural home for a golf course, by any means. Because water scarcity prohibits irrigation systems traditionally used to maintain the lush grass of fairways and greens, an innovative approach to the course and game is required.

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Five of us decided that it would be a fascinating cultural experience to play here, so we set off one afternoon for what we thought would be a 9-hole round.

We teed off from a standard-looking tee box, minus the grass, which was of little concern as the ball was on a tee. The fairway, though, was a different story. The fine, rocky soil and patchwork of thorny shrub and tall grass didn’t make for ideal lies (the golf term for the location of the ball at rest). Solution: carry the fairway—two roughly pancake-sized patches of rubber grass, the kind you find at cheap driving ranges—with us. After finding the ball (here, a challenge even more difficult than on a normal course), it is placed on the faux-fairway and hit normally.

Putting on the “browns” took some adjustment—the ball moves much slower on the mix of sand and recycled crude oil than it does on grass. That’s right, the putting surface is made of sand and oil. And, according to the course owner, the browns had been remixed a few days ago, meaning they were particularly slow because the oil was fresh. It was no surprise that after two and a half hours we had made it through only 4 holes.

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Filed under culture, Middle East, sports

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