Laid out on the coast, a mere 15-minute drive to the north of Agadir, the fairways of the Tazegzout course at the Taghazout Bay Resort occupy a massive 190-acre site that sits 250 feet above the Atlantic, with views of the ocean’s sparkling waters enjoyed from every hole on the layout.
Opened in 2014, the course anchors yet another enormous government-backed residential project that’s still under construction but a new 150-bedroom Hyatt hotel is built and operating next to the clubhouse, offering visitors top class accommodation for spa and golf breaks.
Designed by Kyle Phillips, who has previously worked in Morocco on projects at Al Maaden and Akenza in Marrakech, the course is routed in two returning nines, with holes winding their way around rugged areas of bare limestone and through clusters of argan trees which were preserved during the build.
The round reaches something of a climax when the final three holes (a par four then a short par three followed by a par five) are played out along the edge of the cliffs and this finishing stretch was certainly in the architect’s mind when responding to a question about which holes are the more memorable on the course:“There are a variety of long, medium and short holes but the ones that will remained engraved in my mind are the 9th that returns to the clubhouse; the 17th and 18th are probably, from a strategic and reward point of view, two of the most fun and exciting holes you are likely to play anywhere in the world.”
Confusingly entitled “Tazegzout,” because Taghazout Bay is the name of the massive resort that it’s located in, the course lies to the north of Agadir on the Atlantic coast and it’s one I’ve had an eye on for a while. I played the Kyle Phillips-designed Al Maaden course in Marrakech four years ago and was, quite frankly, more than a little disappointed with it - though, in fairness to the architect, his work was absolutely compromised on that project by having to arrange holes around an enormous “Moroccan water garden” in the middle of the property.
This time, the layout sits atop a hill overlooking the coast, with ocean views from every hole, so such a spectacular location certainly allows room for more creativity. Like the new Mazagan course at El Jadida, paspalum grass is used here on tees and fairways but greens are sown with bent grass, which I think offers a better putting surface.
Holes 1-9 are really just a warm up for the dramatic inward half, though that’s not to dismiss the front nine out of hand as it contains some really terrific holes, a few of them fronted by sneaky little drainage channels. The downhill par four 4th is particularly memorable, its fairway sloping right to left into a deep gully that runs along that side of the hole, with the green protected on the left by a beautifully constructed, ragged-edged bunker. The par five 9th is another standout hole, played to a plateau green. Again, if you’re left on this severely doglegged hole then you’re dead in another gully.
I wasn’t prepared for the way these ravines at holes 4 and 9 are brought into play on the back nine, where they have to be crossed four times, at holes 10, 14, 16 and 17. Indeed, as the round progresses, the gullies get deeper and wider (becoming more of a gorge or a canyon to be crossed on the last two of these four holes) as the round reaches a real climax, thanks to a very clever routing on the way home.
Heroic, do or die, shots to the green are called for on both the par four 16th and par three 17th and if your pulse isn’t racing by the time you stand on the 18th tee (assuming you’ve past the test on both the preceding holes) then your heart must be made of the same limestone that the course is built on because you will just have played as thrilling a pair of back-to-back holes that I’ve ever come across in a very long time.
The par five 18th allows you to catch your breath a bit before the round ends but you might be a little shaken, if not stirred, as you sit down in the clubhouse to reflect on the game you've just had, especially over those sensational closing holes.