We played the Bahrain Championship Pro-Am at The Royal Golf Club – and this is how we fared

Back of 18th hole Royal Golf Club Bahrain

The return of the DP World Tour to the Kingdom of Bahrain in early 2024 not only witnessed a bounce back to form for the winner, South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, it was also a reminder that The Royal Golf Club is a venue worthy of main tour action.

Bahrain is the often-forgotten Middle East golfing state. It is, after all, a small island in the Persian Gulf, situated between Qatar and Saudi Arabia – and for a long while the only golf played there was on desert layouts with “browns” rather than than greens (oil is poured on the sand to produce putting surfaces).

The Royal GC has a 7,101-yard course that was designed by the European Golf Design team in partnership with European Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie.

It’s a modern test that first hosted the DP World Tour in 2011 and on return 13 year later the players were noting that changes to the course had lifted it to world-class levels of presentation.

Golf365 received an invitation to play the Bahrain Championship Pro-Am and got lucky, playing nine holes with Scotland’s Grant Forrest and another nine with Danish veteran Soren Kjeldsen.

On a humid Wednesday morning we warmed up with a bucket of balls on the range and 15 minutes on the putting green. Would it be enough to avoid shame?!

The front nine

Be set for some early surprises at the Royal.

From the first tee, the course gives every impression of being a classic resort course, but the second shot is remarkable. The green is set below the fairway, partially hidden behind a mound to the left, and the shaping is long and narrow – it feels most unlikely and very like a linksland approach shot. It’s a welcoming site and it was no surprise to learn later that the design team had links golf in mind with the project.

First green Royal Golf Club Bahrain

If that’s one shock, the view from the par-3 second tee is another because – brace yourself – you’ve got to carry a vast and craggy wadi (or gorge) to find a putting surface that slopes sharply to the back-left. Two holes in and the challenge has been bracing.

The required blow from the par-5 third tee needs to be solid, too, but it sweeps left-to-right and if you pick a good line you’ll catch the slopes and scuttle your ball towards the dogleg, setting up the possibility of hitting the green in two for the longer hitters. No chance of that for us, but another fine hole.

The fourth hole continues to sweep away from the clubhouse and calls for an accurate hit to a tricky green.

The fifth heads in the opposite direction and is another hole that calls to mind, despite the villas that surround it, the linksland of Scotland. It’s a short par-4 that needs either a huge blow across that wadi (not within our arsenal) or a cautious hit to the narrow fairway (job done, safe par).

The sixth also demands a conservative tee shot while the eighth allows big hitters to open their shoulders – the further the tee shot travels, the more likely it is to catch the significant slopes that set up a shorter approach. In between, the short par-3 seventh allows everyone to take dead aim at the pin.

It was getting hot by now and we stumbled through this stretch.

The par-5 ninth is a fascinating prospect. Long tee shots rattle towards a narrow bottleneck in the fairway but the risk is worth it because the green won’t be reached in two otherwise. The green is raised, protected by deep bunkers and thick grass.

Hitting the halfway hut we felt tested but in a fun way. The front nine undulates pleasantly and negotiates the wadi on at least three occasions – if your ball avoids disappearing into it, you’ll likely be feeling good about making the turn.

The back nine

There’s an intriguing pattern to the back nine because it has four sets of paired holes.

It starts with the 10th and 11th which are both shortish par-4s. Big hitters will pay close heed to the wind direction and then consider going for the green. If they go for the 10th, they will likely also go for the 11th because they sit in roughly the same direction.

Shorter-hitters won’t have that potential advantage, but they will welcome hitting short irons into the greens. But, like all good short holes, both these holes retain threat despite the many temptations.

Indeed, our group discovered that hitting a longer shot into the green at 11 was a better option than trying to hit it with a short flip – and both greens are protected by significant slopes.

Following another fine par-3 the 13th and 14th holes are both par-5s, one heading away from the clubhouse, the other in the opposite direction. It guarantees that the wind will provide a different test on each of them and the greens are an added defence of par – the 13th is particularly devious with steep run-offs in all directions.

Another feature of the back nine are the many oil pipes running overground and giving the impression of being an enormous railroad. It’s an unusual sight and gives the course something of a Mad Max theme.

The next linked holes are 15 and 16 which circle a lake. The first is a par-4 with water threatening the drive and approach, a repeated threat on the par-3 16th.

The final duo is 17 and 18, medium-length par-4s that are again protected by water but this time down the right-hand side. Off both tees, a bold drive, close to the water, will provide an easier approach to the green.

It was a hot but fun day of golf with those unexpected linksland vibes and also tough, DP World Tour-standard conditioning.

18th hole Royal Golf Club Bahrain


In addition to the main course, Montgomerie created a nine-hole par-3 course called the Wee Monty that is ideal for learners and children.

Both the back nine of the main course and this short layout are also floodlit for evening golf.

The club also boasts a state-of-the-art golf academy, outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, pizzeria and cafe.


The club is in the Riffa Views area of the capital city Manama which is enjoying a boom in tourism. The Bahrain Fort is an archaeological site with UNESCO protection and the Manama Souq has excellent shopping and restaurants, as do the city’s many modern shopping malls.

The city is a popular meeting point for ex-pats from around the Middle East and hosts the annual Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Bahrain might be ranked behind the Dubai, Qatar and Oman as a golf destination, but this is a golf course as good as you will find there.