Rob Smith discovers an ever-growing collection of fine Marrakech golf courses
Not far beyond southern Spain, this historic, bustling, lively, exotic metropolis is now a firm favourite for visits of any duration. Golf in Marrakech has expanded rapidly, and there is a real variety in terms of style, with most courses benefitting from the beautiful backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.
Plus, with year-round sunshine and easy access from the UK, Marrakech offers a great alternative to continental Europe for a golf holiday. Below we look some of the best golf clubs and resorts in the city to improve your handicap.
Royal Golf Marrakech
Dating back almost a century, Royal Marrakech was later remodelled and runs through mature woodland, and there is a newer nine that opened a few years ago.
There is a much-photographed and unique short hole, known for obvious but perhaps politically incorrect reasons as Brigitte Bardot due to the two large mounds that protect the entrance to the green.
Assoufid Golf Club
Assoufid opened in 2014 and quickly established itself as a top-notch venue. The holes blend naturally with the site’s gently-undulating and secluded location, and there are several standout holes.
The par-4 7th is an excellent dogleg to the left and the 10th calls for a heroic approach over a dry river bed. Meanwhile, the short 17th is played from an elevated tee over a gully to a wide but shallow green.
Atlas Golf Marrakech
The 9-holer at Atlas is a charming course in great condition, with cactus plants, beautiful shrubbery and attractive ponds. Comprising one long hole, three par 4s and five diverse short holes, it is an ideal start or end of tour venue and a real joy.
The club is also blessed with a superb, gourmet restaurant specialising in the tastiest regional dishes.
Al Maaden features deep bunkers and routing that works its way around some angular water hazards. The course is maintained in tip-top order and generally regarded as one of the best in the area.
The closing hole is a real feature with trouble everywhere, including a replica of the Oakmont ‘church pews’ bunkers.
Top golf course architect Cabell Robinson designed the Blue and Red nines at Amelkis, twenty years ago before adding the Green nine in 2009.
Seven lakes and numerous bunkers provide plenty of challenge, but it is never too punishing and will appeal to golfers of all levels.
The Montgomerie Marrakech
As the name suggests, seven-time PGA Tour champion Colin Montgomerie designed this course. It is a proper test of golf. The par-5 3rd and short 4th are bordered by water on the left, which comes into play again on the closing holes.
PalmGolf Marrakesh Palmeraie
PalmGolf has three contrasting loops of nine, with the original two designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior in the early 1990s. The resident population of egrets is so huge that you feel like you are golfing in Hitchcock’s The Birds.
There is a further nine on ground beyond an old flood barrier. Each loop is distinct, and very enjoyable.
Arguably the toughest test in Marrakech is the slightly more undulating Jack Nicklaus creation at Samanah.
It features the trademark Nicklaus mounding, plenty of large but attractive water hazards, and is kept in excellent condition with superb but demanding greens. It is long off the back tees, so be realistic with your choice and you will have fun.
Samanah played host to Africa’s First PGA Tour Champions Golf Tournament in January. It saw 66 players competing for a prize of $2 million.
Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech
Virtually next door to Samanah is another Cabell Robinson design, the splendid Royal Palm, which offers perfect holiday golf.
There is terrific variety and it’s enjoyably testing without being too penal, albeit with a handful of very challenging holes. The par 3s at six and seventeen come highly rated.
There’s also a luxurious and extremely stylish hotel attached to the course. With its exceptional restaurant, this makes for a top-notch, top-end golfing retreat.