Morocco, the Kingdom of Golf, is waiting to welcome you
2nd April 2012
If playing a round under the Moroccan sun has never really appealed to you before then maybe you should think again as it’s currently one of the most up-and-coming golf destinations for European golfers. More than a dozen brand new 18-hole layouts are set to open before 2015, expanding the country’s already impressive golfing portfolio to forty courses.
Morocco’s golf market is growing twice as fast as the overall tourist sector so, in order to meet this increased demand, a “Blue Plan” has been drawn up to develop the seaside resorts along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines and this will increase hotel capacity and improve local infrastructure.
Similar measures are also being taken inland to ensure cities like Fez and Marrakech can cope with the influx of visiting golfers.
Situated only a short flight away from Europe in North Africa, Morocco enjoys a rich golfing heritage that stretches back almost a hundred years to when Royal Tangiers Golf Club was inaugurated in 1917. The old course lies in the northwest corner of the country and it’s one of several splendid layouts – including Royal Cabo Negro at Tetouan and Palmeral in Saïdia – that are strung out along the rugged northern coastline.
Under the Blue Plan, another two courses – Las Lagunas and El Oasis – are being built in Saïdia, two others are planned for Nador as part of the Marchica Med eco resort whilst, back in Tangier, a V.J. Singh signature course is scheduled for play when the big budget Al Houara resort opens.
The late monarch, King Hassan II, was an avid golfer and top professionals compete annually for a trophy that bears his name. Since its inception in 1971, Major winners such as Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els have all won this prestigious event.
The King was shrewd enough to commission one of the world’s leading designers, Robert Trent Jones Snr, to construct a fabulous 45-hole golf complex at Dar Es Salam Golf Club in Rabat and for many years, beginning in 1971, the Red and Blue 18-hole layouts co-hosted the Trophée Hassan II tournament.
Between Rabat and El Jadida, there’s plenty of choice for golfers along this stretch of the Atlantic coastline with Robert von Hagge courses at Bouznika and Benslimane, a charming old 1920s layout at Royal Mohammedia and a couple of fantastic tracks at El Jadida: Cabell Robinson’s El Jadidia Royal and the new Gary Player-designed Mazagan. A little further south, the Black Knight also put his architectural stamp on the Mogador course at Essaouira in 2010.
And as part of the Blue Plan to “dress the coastline in green for 2015” golf facilities in Casablanca will be augmented by the Casa Green project, where a new 18-hole course will triple the number of holes currently available in that city.
The coastal resort town of Agadir is one of the most popular golf destinations in Morocco and that’s hardly surprising when you consider it basks in sunny skies for 300 days every year and boasts no fewer than ninety nine golf holes, many of them perfumed by eucalyptus and mimosa.
You’ll find these fairways split between Agadir Royal (9 holes), the Dunes Golf Club (27 holes), Soleil Golf Club (36 holes) and the Ocean Golf Club (27 holes) – with more new courses scheduled for Taghazout, to the north of Agadir, and Oued Chbika to the south.
The media spotlight also falls one week in every year on the private Golf Du Palais d’Agadir course when it hosts the annual Trophée Hassan II tournament on the men’s European Tour, this event having switched from Rabat in 2011.
Last but certainly not least, the ochre-tinted city of Marrakech has been offering golf as a recreational activity since the mid 1920s when the Royal Marrakech course was formed and great world leaders such as Churchill and Eisenhower have walked the fairways of this fine old golfing establishment.
This facility was joined in the 1990s by Robert Trent Jones Snr’s Palmeraie layout and Cabell Robinson’s Amelkis course, both of which have been recently extended to 27 holes. New millennium additions to the Marrakech golf scene include the 9-hole Atlas Golf Club, the 18-hole Kyle Phillips course at Al Maaden plus a couple of new layouts that lie a little further away from the city at Assoufid (a Niall Cameron creation) and Samanah (a Nicklaus Design course).
To the south east of Marrakech, the ski resort of Oukaimeden in the Atlas mountains is set to open the highest 18-hole course in North Africa whilst further on, the charming little 9-hole Ouarzazate layout is scheduled to double in size.
If you tie in a golf trip to Morocco with cultural visits to some of the country’s many UNESCO world heritage sites like Volubilis near Meknes, the Fez Medina or Marrakech’s market square then you will have a stay in a magical North African land that will live long in the memory.
Golfers who have played in the Canary Islands, the Iberian peninsula or the north east coast of the Mediterranean and feel they might not be getting value for money need look no further than Morocco for high class, affordable golf with very reasonable green (and caddy) fees.
The Top 100 team haven’t played all the existing courses in Morocco, so if you think there’s one that we should feature, even as a GEM, then please let us know by nominating a course.
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