Golf resorts in the Red City of Marrakech

01 August 2022 Respond to this article

Golf resorts in the Red City of Marrakech

Our series of resort golf articles continues with a destination that’s a little more exotic – Marrakech! Now, Morocco might not feature that highly on the wish list of places to play for many golfers but there are a dozen really good tracks surrounding the Red City that are well worth seeking out for those who don’t mind venturing a little further afield to play golf.

There are plenty of low-cost flight operators flying into Marrakech Menara airport from all over Europe, the courses are accessible and reasonably priced, and the climate is such that it’s an ideal golfing getaway from autumn to the following spring, outwith the four hottest months of the year in the summer.

Royal Palm

The Royal Palm Golf & Country Club is located 15 kilometres southwest of the world-famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the city centre and this hotel boasts 134 guest rooms, suites and villas overlooking the golf course. There are no fewer than six restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine, and other sporting amenities include a fitness centre, swimming pool and spa.

The course is a Cabell Robinson design that opened for play ten years ago and it’s currently undergoing an extensive bunker renovation which will result in some of the hazards being reduced in size or eliminated altogether, while those that remain will be relined with capillary concrete. When the work is completed in a few months, Royal Palm will once again be a match for any of the other golf facilities around the city.

Assoufid

Assoufid Golf Club lies only a 10-minute drive away from Royal Palm and although there’s no on-site accommodation at present, a new 80-bedroomed Marriott hotel is due to open next door in 2024 at the St. Regis Marrakech Resort, owned by Assoufid Properties and developed by United Real Estate Company, which is part of the Kuwait Projects Company.

Assoufid is certainly a favourite with reviewers who commented in 2019: “from the 6th hole on this is an outstanding layout… Assoufid is on the right path to making this the best course in the area… this spectacular course offers beautiful views over the Atlas Mountains as well as eighteen interesting holes… probably the best course in the area, far more contour than other courses.”

Al Maaden

On the southeast outskirts of the city, there’s a little cluster of three golf facilities, one of which is the Al Maaden Golf Resort where the Park Hyatt Marrakech will open next to the clubhouse later this year. The new resort will have 181 rooms and suites, with guest rooms grouped in clusters around a common courtyard. There are two pools: one next to the main restaurant and a formal pool with an infinity edge overlooking the course.

The 18-hole layout at Al Maaden is a Kyle Phillips design which debuted in 2010 and it’s one of the most unique courses you will ever come across, Holes are routed round geometrically square-shaped water features designed by landscape architect Fernando Caruncho from Madrid – it’s a layout that divides opinion but it’s one you’ll never forget!

Amelkis

Less than three kilometres away as the crow flies, you’ll find the 27-hole golf facility at Amelkis Golf Club located next to the 5-star Amenjena hotel which was modelled by architect Ed Tuttle on Ahmed al-Mansour’s now ruined palace, el-Badi. It’s been described as “surreally beautiful and ethereally quiet, which some find blissful, others find eerie.”

The original 18-hole course at Amelkis comprised the Red and Blue nines and these still form the strongest 18-hole combination. The 10th (and second last) edition of the Moroccan Open was staged here in 2000 when Jamie Spence beat his nearest rival by four shots. In more recent times, Bronte Law won the Laila Aicha Tour School in 2018 with a record total of 26 under par for her five rounds.

Royal Marrakech

Immediately south of the Ameklis property, on the other side of the Route de Ouarzazate highway lies the venerable old course at Royal Golf Marrakech, parts of which date back to 1927. A new nine (originally called “Menara”) was added in 2007 but it’s the older “Vert” and “Rouge” nines that still combine to form the 18-hole layout of first choice.

Laid out on largely flat terrain and stretching to less than 5,900 metres from the back tees, the Old course is a pleasant parkland walk through tree-lined playing corridors that are irrigated by a special water supply. The club recently built a new colonial-style clubhouse and invested in a bunker renovation project which has dramatically enhanced the playing experience.

Palmeraie

Last – but certainly not least – in our look at resort golf in Marrakech, the Palmeraie Rotana Resort is situated north of the Red City, about a 15-minute drive from the medina. Rotana operates the Hotel du Golf Rotana and the Palmeraie Palace (currently closed), each of these hotels extending to over 300 hotel rooms and suites. Above the clubhouse, there are 11 riad-inspired rooms for keen golfers wanting to stay right on the course.

The 18-hole layout is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that debuted thirty years ago, when it was the first golf course to appear in the city since Royal Marrakech debuted sixty-five years previously. Today, the course measures just over 6,000 metres from the back markers, with water coming into play on several occasions, most noticeably on the back nine at four of the holes.

Postscript

A google search will bring results for several travel companies who specialise in golf packages for Marrakech. Some of the hotels mentioned above are used by these firms and other accommodations located close to the airport (just outside the medina) also feature on the website of these operators.

Note there are five other courses available for play when you’re in Marrakech: the 9-hole Atlas, along with the Tony Jacklin Marrakech, Montgomerie Marrakech, Noria and Samanah. The 18-hole layout at PalmGolf Ourika has yet to re-open after closing during the recent covid crisis.

We understand work has just got under way on the long-awaited Akenza course (between Noria and PalmGolf Ourika) so hopefully it won’t be too long until golfers are able to tee it up there at a development which has been on the drawing board for over a decade now.

Jim McCann

Editor

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