Winter sun: Escape to North Africa for a golf holidaySeptember, 2013
Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco offer great winter sun options
With the game very much on the up in this part of the world more and more of us are taking advantage of the short flight south for affordable golf played under bright skies.
Fifteen years ago you might be able to name a handful of courses in Morocco; now there are six in the bustling city of Marrakech alone – all within a short drive of wherever you are staying and, by the year 2015, the country should boast as many as 40 courses.
At the Royal Golf Club you will be following in the footsteps (or divots) of Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower while the Amelkis, played under the gaze of the magnificent Atlas Mountains, has already hosted men’s and women’s European Tour events and has three loops of nine.
Slightly further afield an hour from Casablanca is arguably the country’s premier resort, Mazagan. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and set in magnificent landscaped gardens, it has a five-star hotel, exclusive casino, an invigorating health and beauty centre and a links course designed by the legendary Gary Player.
From the back tees it is the longest course in the country though there are plenty of options and some magnificent facilities, managed by Troon Golf, to work on your game in the sunshine.
Agadir is also well catered for with resort courses but if you are looking for something a little bit more romantic then try the Agadir Royal. There are nine holes here that were laid out by a ‘mysterious Scotsman known only as Mr Wilson’.
The fairways reside as islands in among the desert and, along with a variety of bunkers, you can expect to play a lot of shots from sand. Tunisia is the most northern country on the continent with a sandy coastline of over 700 miles. The first course, Carthage, was opened in the 1920s but it took 50 years for others to follow.
Yasmine Valley, in Hammamet, is played over rolling landscape and between pine and olive groves. It is considered to be one of the best in the country while nearby Citrus has two great courses.
In the Kantaoui part of the country there are two layouts at Port El Kantaoui – the Sea and the Panorama. The former hosted the European Tour the first time it moved outside of Europe.
Palm Links, in Monastir, is another of the best in Tunisia with some links-style holes
Hidden away in the north west by the border with Algeria is Tabarka, where the Challenge Tour has visited. American Ron Fream, a leading figure in Tunisia’s rise in the game, designed the course which cuts through, firstly, sand dunes before moving away from the coast.
On to Egypt. Not surprisingly Cairo boasts the most amount of choice and, on the outskirts of the capital, lies Allegria.
This is Greg Norman’s first design venture in the continent and it has already received rave reviews with creeks and water hazards a feature of the course.
Kateyama Dunes, east of Cairo, is a 27-hole project of Sir Nick Faldo. Here a barren desert has been transformed into a lush oasis. A popular destination with overseas visitors is the resort of Taba Heights on the east coast between the Sinai mountains and the Red Sea.
The fairways reside as islands in among the desert and, along with a variety of bunkers, you can expect to play a lot of shots from sand.