Brian Johnson may forget to keep his visiting card handy, but he always ensures there are plenty of Dh20 notes in his wallet. That, he says, remains his greatest calling card as one of the finest architects in the business.
The note features the iconic clubhouse of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, a building designed by Johnson, managing partner of Godwin Austen Johnson architecture firm. Till date, apart from a special commemorative note issued by the Bank of Scotland which featured the R&A clubhouse in St Andrews, no other golf course in the world has been accorded this honour.
Now, Johnson’s design has received further accolade – Dubai Creek clubhouse has come eighth in Golf.com’s list of 18 Most Iconic Clubhouses in the World. It features alongside such establishments as the clubhouse at the Old Course in St Andrews and Augusta National Golf Club, and host venues of major championships.
More importantly, at 23-year-old, Dubai Creek is youngest of the 18 golf courses listed. Christopher May, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Golf, commented: “It is a great honour for Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club to be included in such a prestigious list of world-renowned golf clubs.
“There are probably 30,000 golf clubhouses in the world, so to be selected as one 18 is quite something. Also, being the only club from the Middle East, really puts golf in Dubai on the international map.”
As good as it looked, May said the more amazing thing about the building was the vision with which it was built, and the time when the construction started.
“The shape of the building is unique and obviously echoes the maritime history and traditions of Dubai. We have had so many guests who have compared it to the Opera House in Sydney. It is a remarkable structure,” said May.
“There is one thing about Dubai Creek that many people forget – it’s importance for the city. When it was made in 1993, the region had just gone through the Gulf War.
Even though the UAE was peaceful, foreigners were averse to coming to the whole region. For the Rulers to want to built something like this, it really was a statement of intent from the Government of Dubai.
“The fact that it was put on the Dh20 banknote at that time, just shows how significant the building is for Dubai.”
While the form continues to be awe-inspiring, May says functionality of the clubhouse is perhaps the best in the whole region.
“The clubhouse, and its flow, is actually one of the best in the region. For a start, it is built on a raised platform, so it looks down on the golf course and gives wonderful views of the golf course and the creek from important areas like the restaurants,” said May.
“But from a flow perspective, basically all the back-of-house functions, like bag storage, kitchen and cart storage, are all underground, which works very well for us. Most essential services and the logistics involved are hidden from the guests. The public areas in the clubhouse work very well again. They are very spacious.”
“I have spoken to Brian many times about the clubhouse and he has told me he would not change anything if he had to build it again. From an operational point of view, it works very well. The only change we have done in more than 20 years is make the gym and the function area a little bit bigger. It is a testament to his design that this clubhouse was build fit-to-purpose from day one and is still working so well.”
GOLF.COM LIST OF 18 ICONIC CLUBHOUSES:
1. The R&A Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland
2. Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta
3. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton
4. Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck
5. Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire, England
6. Medinah Country Club, Medinah
7. Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England
8. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Dubai
9. Sunningdale Golf Club, Berkshire, England
10. Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus
11. Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Scarborough
12. Formby Golf Club, Formby, England
13. Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont
14. Indian Creek Country Club, Florida
15. Congressional Country Club, Maryland
16. East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta
17. Trump Nat’l Golf Club Bedminster, New Jersey
18. Royal Lytham & St Annes, Lancashire, England
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