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Golf in Morocco

Area guide: Marrakesh, Morocco

Chris Bertram explains why it is so easy to be intoxicated by this Moroccan city
 

Golf in Morocco: Samanah

Samanah was built in 2008 by Nicklaus Design and this course of wide fairways, greenside swales and well-bunkered greens has hosted the Ladies European Tour.

After an open front nine, the second half steps up the pace and is nicely defined by trees while a pond also plays a key role. That is especially true on the 16th and the par-3 17th, played almost all the way over water.

Golf in Morocco: Royal Marrakesh

Royal Marrakesh lies in the eastern outskirts of Marrakesh and is its pedigree course having been founded in 1927.

It has 27 holes – 18 on the Old (re-designed by Arnaud Massy, the first foreign player to win The Open) and nine on the New (2008) – that play across a gently undulating site that is populated by dense corridors of mature trees.

In extremely good condition, the greens are quite large with subtle undulations as opposed to humps and hollows.

English architect Jonathan Davison is undertaking a bunker renovation here and it has much potential so could be a real attraction once he has finished his work.

The famous American architect Robert Trent Jones Snr designed Palm Golf and this 27-hole course north of the centre sprawls over 120 hectares including 11 lakes.

The first 18 holes form what is definitely the main course, routed in two loops either side of the clubhouse and hotel.

The first two holes follow the hotel on the left then you turn to play around a lake on the right. Water is regularly in play, such as on the short, risk-reward par-4 3rd, and there are some nice green complexes here, with knuckles and bumps providing interest.

The second nine ends with a scorecard-wrecking 17th next to villas – the closest you get to any property – which plays almost totally over water apart from a 20ft landing zone in front of the green and with a bunker to the left.

The Montgomerie was designed by the Scotsman in association with European Golf Design. It is a fine technical course with some exacting holes, such as the 5th, with lots of drive bunkers and an upturned green. 

The extra nine, to the left of the main course’s 4th, is characterised by open terrain with dry lakes acting like quarries.

Golf in Morocco: Al Maaden

Al Maaden was designed by Kyle Phillips and arguably the safest pair of hands in golf course architecture has not disappointed here either. We expect it to mature into one of Marrakesh’s finest. 

Part of a high-end development with a chic clubhouse, residences and a Park Hyatt hotel, it sprawls over a flat site with only shrubs for shelter from breezes. Water plays an intriguing part on the closing hole, with a lake divided up by walls to produce a unique quilt-like effect.

Golf in Morocco: Travel essentials for your trip

Golf in Morocco

Accommodation

There are two perfect bases, in the north and south. Royal Palm in the south west is a luxury resort with lots of amenities so is perfect for families. The rooms are swish and the food high quality. In the north, Palmeraie Palace sits to the 2nd of Palm Golf and is aptly named given its grand, ornate decor.

Price point

This is a big advantage of Marrakesh compared to other year-round venues outside Europe. Getting there is amazingly cheap; book early enough and you can make the four-hour flight for comfortably under £120 return. Then you can find a deal that gets you excellent accommodation and lots of high-quality golf for something like £300.

Golf in Morocco

When to go

In summary, from mid June to mid September it is probably too hot for all but the most devoted sun worshipper. The two months either side of that period are glorious – perfect weather that allows you to play golf comfortably and also swim in a warm pool – and then December to February is ‘just’ dry and warm.

The journey

Around three hours from the UK (with a tail wind you can do it in under three from a southerly airport) will take you to Marrakesh Menara.

You can fly to this sparkling airport from Liverpool, Stansted and Luton – and return flights are very cheap. Once there, you might want to hire a car – but plot your courses on a map to see how much travelling is required, because we have more experience than most of driving abroad but had to have our wits about us in Marrakesh. So if you’re not confident, stick to taxis.

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Chris Bertram

Chris Bertram is a specialist in all things golf courses.
He was born and brought up in Dumfriesshire and has been a sports journalist since 1996, initially as a junior writer with National Club Golfer magazine.
Chris then spent four years writing about football and rugby union for the Press Association but returned to be Editor and then Publisher of NCG.
He has been freelance since 2010 and spends the majority of his time playing golf and writing about the world’s finest golf courses.

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