Introduced to Morocco by the British back in 1917, the sport of golf gained the royal seal of approval during the late 1960s, when King Hassan II became hooked. Pictures in the press showed Hassan II decked out in the latest golf wear -- cigarette in one hand, putter in the other -- playing the game with like-minded heads of state. A spate of course building followed, and today there are around 20 golf courses in Morocco ranging from 9 to 36 holes, some of which were designed by well-known masters Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, and Jones's protégé, Cabell B. Robinson. Crown Prince Moulay Rachid shares his late father's passion for the game and has established a Royal Golf Academy, as well as taken on the presidency of the Royal Moroccan Golfing Federation.
The best known of the country's courses is at the Royal Dar es Salaam Golf Club (tel. 0537/755864) in Rabat. Set in a forest of cork, eucalyptus, and oak trees, the club offers two 18-hole courses (called red and blue), and one 9-hole (green) course. The red course -- rated in the world's top 100 golf courses by GOLF magazine -- plays host to Morocco's annual Hassan II Golf Trophy (www.hassan2golftrophy.com). Founded in 1971, the invitation-only tournament has previously hosted names such as Billy Caspar, Lee Trevino, Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, and Ernie Els. There's also a corresponding ladies' tournament -- the Lalla Meryem Cup -- as well as a very popular 3-day pro-am, where amateurs get to play with a different professional each day.
The beachside resort city of Agadir is home to three clubs: the 9-hole Agadir Royal Golf Club (tel. 0528/248551), the 45-hole Dunes Golf Club (tel. 0528/834690), and the 36-hole Golf du Soleil (tel. 0528/337330; www.golfdusoleil.com). Within the environs of Marrakech are three 18-hole courses: the Marrakech Royal Golf Club (tel. 0524/409828 or 0524/404705), La Palmeraie Golf Club (tel. 0524/368766; www.pgpmarrakech.com), and the Amelkis Golf Club (tel. 0524/404414). Other 18-hole courses can be found along the Atlantic coast in El Jadida (El Jadida Golf Club; tel. 0523/352251), where America's Favorite Golf Schools (www.afgs.com) has recently opened their first non-North American golf school; Mohammedia (near Casablanca; tel. 0523/324656); and the recently lengthened Royal Country Golf Club (tel. 0539/938925) in Tangier. Nine-hole courses include those at Casablanca (within the Anfa Hippodrome; tel. 0522/365355 or 0522/361026); Fes (tel. 0535/665210); Meknes (tel. 0535/530753; www.royalgolfmeknes.com), where the course is floodlit at night and is perhaps the only course in the world located within royal grounds; and Ouarzazate (tel. 0524/882218 or 0524/882486).
Morocco's golf courses are usually open every day to players of any handicap, other than Rabat's red course, which is only open to players of a handicap of 18 or less. Greens fees are around 400dh for 9 holes and 550dh for 18. Most clubs will rent full golf bags (200dh-300dh) and golf carts (200dh-400dh), and caddies are usually compulsory, costing between 60dh and 100dh.
Agadir's Golf du Soleil and Marrakech's La Palmeraie Golf Club both offer packages that include greens fees and other extras, along with prereservation of preferred tee times.
Online golf magazine Golf Today (www.golftoday.co.uk) includes a course directory for Morocco. For a recent appraisal of some of the country's golf courses, read Chaka Travel Managing Director Mark Marias's reviews on the company site.
- Exclusive Golf (tel. 0870/8704700; www.exclusivegolf.co.uk) has been organizing specialist golf holidays since 1988 and offers packages to both Marrakech and Rabat, usually with special deals that include free greens fees.
- International Golf Adventures (tel. 800/4581792 toll-free or 07092/010677 in the U.K.; www.golfcom.net) offers a number of top-end packaged golf holidays to Morocco playing at some of the Atlantic coast courses, as well as in Marrakech. Tours generally include quality accommodations, most meals, transport, and greens fees.
Other tour operators that can create golf-centric itineraries are Chaka Travel (tel. 028/9023-2112; www.chakatravel.com); the Golf Holiday Company (tel. 08701/121-315; firstname.lastname@example.org); and the Best of Morocco (tel. 08450/264-585; www.morocco-travel.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.