Golf at the foot of the Atlas Mountains
Old City Riads
“Marrakech!?!?!? Sure you can’t play golf there!” This was the general reaction when my usual playing partners found out that I had booked a week in this North African city and planned to get in as much golf as possible. Fortunately, I had done the research and heard the reports and had no doubt that this was the place to go for my late summer fix of golf and sunshine.
The city of Marrakech will stir up thoughts of colourful souks, flavoursome tajines and snake charmers in the square for most of us. This city which frequented by famous rockers such as Mick Jagger and Brian Jones in the 60’s, has always had a magnetic draw for tourists seeking adventure. Over the past decade, a different type of leisure break has added another string to the already impressive repertoire of reasons to visit this historic city.
I stepped off the 3.5 hour flight from Dublin to Marrakech, relived to feel the heat of the evening air after a summer of rain, wind and miserable weather in Ireland. Golf tourism in Marrakech has taken off in the past 10 years and I was eager to hear what all the fuss was about. We had booked a highly recommended Riad in the Medina and I had planned a week or golf, good food and exploration which is not always an option on your traditional golf holiday.
The medina in Marrkaech refers to the old city which is walled with strict height restrictions on buildings. A walk through this ancient part of the city really does feel like a step back into medieval times. After wandering through the labyrinth of passages following our guide, we were led to the Riad Ba Sidi which felt like an alternative world compared to the chaotic streets outside. 6 beautifully decorated bedrooms make up this Riad with a rooftop terrace as well as a swimming pool make for a luxurious spot to spend a relaxed day. Lazy afternoons were not on my agenda however, I was here to play golf!
At present, there are 8 courses which I would recommend our clients. Palmeraie Golf, Al Maaden and Royal Marrakech are all established courses and have a traditional feel. You will find tree lined fairways at Royal Marrakech and spectacular views of the Atlas mountains at Palmeraie Golf. These courses could all be described as high quality resort courses and all are now investing money to improve what the offer. This is mainly due to the new breed of challenging, championship standard courses that are available.
Samanah, Assoufid and Noria Golf are all relatively new courses that have enjoyed substantial investment. At Samanah and Assoufid you will find manicured fairways, desert feel golf, perfect greens and a real challenge off the back tees. As Noria, they have gone a bit left field with a number of square greens and a club house that looks like it has just landed from another planet!
Over the last number of weeks the Montgomerie and Jacklin courses have opened for business to add to the impressive repetoire of courses. If our pal Colin has lived up to his reputation, the Montgomerie course will not be for the faint hearted.
After hectic days of golfing the evenings were spent in the old city at the varied restaurants and wandering the streets watching the array of street performers. As you can imagine, there is an organised chaos in this vibrant city and tourists integrate easily as they have done for centuries. A golf trip to Marrakech is an experience that you will not forget in a hurry and the main issue you will have is that a week or ten days may not be enough!