Players in next January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship will face new challenges for the 10th anniversary tournament with hole changes designed to bring more water into play.
The changes are part of a policy of constantly improving the National course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from both a spectator and player point of view for what is now seen as one of the top golf events on the international calendar.
On holes 2, 4 and 12 the agronomy team has made changes to the shape and size of the greens to bring them closer to the water hazards which until now have not really been in play.
The 16th has seen the biggest change with the two left-hand bunkers replaced by four pot bunkers and the fairway moved to the right which is closer to the water.
On Tuesday tournament director Peter German described the thinking behind the changes saying: “On the 2nd we have made the green maybe a third larger, extending to the right hand side and we have reshaped the right hand bunker. The fringe of the green will be shaved so anything right of the green will be in the water. It’s not to make it tricky but it’s to give us a couple of pin positions behind the right hand trap which brings the water into play.
“The fourth hole is really a major visual change because the green has probably doubled in size and again the right hand trap has been totally reshaped giving us pin positions much closer to the water bringing in an intimidation factor.
“On the 12th we haven’t taken the water right around the green which we would like to do but instead we have brought the green back towards the water giving us two or three pin positions where anything short will be in the lake.
“The major change is the 16th where we have changed the whole bunkering on the left hand side and moved the fairway so it goes much more to the right of the tee. It’s a hole that plays into the wind so although the water is not exactly in play it is now more intimidating.
“The changes are designed to increase the degree of difficulty with those new pin positions and to visually make it more exciting for television and the spectators.”
Sport360° was with Abu Dhabi’s golf ambassador, Italian professional Matteo Manassero when he tried out the new holes and he gave his verdict.
He said: “In general the whole idea is more risk and reward so if you are slightly off on those four holes you are going to lose two shots instead of one which was the case before. I really like the changes because they reward accurate play which is what golf is all about. I think the changes have been done in a smart way to make us think about it more. For sure, it can only make the Championship even better in January.”
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