Golf Course Review… Soma Bay

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Fact File

Par -72
Rating – 72
Length – 5890m (club tees)
Best Time to Play – All year round 

History

This course was designed by South Africa’s nine-time major champion Gary Player. It opened in 1998 and was the first golf course open for play on the Western Red Sea coast of Egypt, as well as being the first championship course in the Middle East designed by one of the ‘Big Three’ (Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer). At the inaugural tournament, Player described the course as “the next Pebble Beach” (referencing the famous course in the United States), which is some compliment.

The Course

Among the features of this course are the memorable views of the lush kikuyu fairways, which contrast dramatically with the rugged desert and the clear blue sea waters. The Cascades is a desert links-style championship course and features at least four different tee positions on each hole. Fittingly, sand is another of the standout features, with 73 bunkers dotted around the course, whilst there are also nine holes featuring water hazards. Among those water hazards – the Red Sea.

The best views of the sea are available on holes four, five, six, 14 and 15, with three of those playing alongside the water. It’s not a particularly long course, with the four par-5 holes measuring 532m, 450m, 412m and 426m from the club tees. So, the latter three are definitely reachable in two, depending on the weather conditions and the direction of the wind. There’s also one short par-four on the front nine and two on the back, whilst all four par-3 holes require only mid-irons. So, if you’re long off the tee, you could overpower this course, although you will have to be straight, and the conditions could well dictate just how ambitious you are off the tee. Either way, aesthetically, it’s a beautiful course in great condition, and the views are spectacular. If 18 holes is not enough for you, there’s a par-3 challenge course situated adjacent to the championship layout, with Player lending his design skills to that as well. Otherwise, there’s an onsite golf academy (with lessons available), a 60-bay driving range, and putting and chipping practice facilities.

Signature Hole

The signature hole is the fifth hole. It’s called ‘The Pebbles of Soma’ and is a spectacular par-3 that features a green which protrudes well into the sea and is surrounded on three sides by a continuous narrow bunker and the breaking waters of the Red Sea. There’s a generous landing area on the left, which is naturally inclined towards the green and offers an obvious target for those shy of going for the green. The green itself is laid out in steps, making putting an interesting challenge against the backdrop of the surrounding sea. From the club tee, the hole measures 153 metres and it usually plays into the wind, so it’s a decent test, even though you may find yourself with a mid to short-iron in your hands.

Rates

Hotel guest – $100
Non-hotel guest – $120
Cart Hire – $40
Club Hire – $32

Location

Soma Bay is located on the eastern shores of Egypt on the Red Sea Riviera. Only four hour’s flight from Central Europe, and just 45 kilometres from Hurghada International Airport, Soma Bay is a self-contained community surrounded on all sides by the sea. With Luxor only 240 kilometres away by road, same day excursions to the Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Luxor Temples, and all that the ancient city has to offer, are easily done by car or bus. Travel time from Hurghada International Airport is approximately 35 minutes, heading towards Safaga.

Contact

Address: Soma Bay, Red Sea, Egypt, +20 65 3544901, thecascades.com