Travel Guide: North Africa
Until recently, if you wanted to guarantee yourself some winter sun without taking an 11-hour flight, you would be looking solely towards the Canaries. But as the golf bug has spread outwith its traditional destinations, your options for playing with the sun on your back in the British winter have increased dramatically. You can now head to the north of Africa and enjoy top courses all year round.
Indeed Morocco is little more than a three-hour flight from London; it is even closer than Cyprus and Greece. And as well as the weather, it offers amazing value and courses which are not overcrowded. What’s more, given the climate, it is hardly a surprise the greens and fairways are so beautifully manicured.
You can tee it up for little more than £20, perfect for those of us seeking a budget break. Bordering the North Atlantic and boasting an annual 300 days of sunshine and year-long golfing weather, Morocco remains relatively unspoilt.
In Marrakech, the Palmeraie Golf Resort has a terrific course designed by famed American Robert Trent Jones. It offers a gentle start and a tough finish, so is a perfect tourist course. It is part of the Marrakech Palmeraie Palace Hotel, but is open to all.
The Amelkis is one of the most beautiful courses in the country, a Cabell B Robinson design dominated by palm groves and water hazards.
Royal Dar Es-Salam is Trent Jones’ most notable Moroccan creation El Jadida is another Robinson gem which overlooks the Atlantic between Casablanca and Oualidia. Royal Dar Es-Salam is Trent Jones’ most notable Moroccan creation.
Set in a 1,000-acre forest of cork trees, this 45- hole complex is 15 to 20 minutes from Rabat and comprises three courses – the exacting Red, the more forgiving Blue and the 9-hole Green. Recently, two Gary Playerdesigns at Golf Mogador have opened in Essaouira.
Tunisia is equally tempting, with the courses near the sea, in two areas – Monastir/Kantaoui and Hammamet. Palm Links is probably the leading course in the former, combining a flat design amid a palm oasis, with three links-style holes. Flamingo is another gem while there are two fine courses at Port El Kantaoui – the Sea Course and the Panorama. The Sea Course borders on the Mediterranean Sea and benefits from beautiful views. It has hosted the European Senior Tour.
In Hammamet, Yasmine’s course boasts elevated tees and multi-tiered greens, lakes and a meandering creek which is ready to catch errant shots. The Citrus Club has two terrific courses. The Forest features narrow treelined fairways so accuracy is essential to prosper. Other top courses include historic Carthage, Challenge Tour venue Tabarka and desert-like Tozeur Oasis.
YOUR QUICK GUIDE
When to go: The summer can be very hot but coastal breezes are cooling. Winter sees some rainfall but it is usually quickly passing heavy showers
Time difference: GMT +1
Language: French in Tunisia Arabic in Morocco
Currency: Tunisian dinar, Moroccan dirham
Must-play courses: Palm Links, Palmeraie
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Menara Travel are the experts when it comes to Tunisia and Morocco, offering both expertise and experience.
Call 0207 371 2030 or visit www.menaratravel.co.uk