An array of world-class clubs, from the traditional to the contemporary, awaits golf fans visiting Marrakech. A swing away from the Medina, here's our pick of the best
Marrakech is rapidly becoming the shining star of the Mediterranean golf scene. With 14 greens within 10 miles of the Medina, 300 or more days of sunshine on average a year, and spectacular views from practically every hole you putt, this Moroccan destination should be at the top of every golfers' bucket list.
Marrakech's Royal Golf
For guests of the resort of Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech, the location couldn't be more idyllic. There is direct access to two world-class courses, Royal Golf and Al Maaden Golf, both of which are framed by the magnificent Atlas Mountains.
'My favourite course after a week at work is Royal Golf, a par 72, built in 1923,' says Mark Bradford, General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech. 'It's the second oldest golf course in the area – and where Churchill and Eisenhower made their swings when visiting. Conveniently located a short buggy drive away from our resort, it's set among majestic 100-year-old palm and pine trees, providing fantastic landscape as well as shade from the heat of the day.'
Al Maaden with its sculpture park
The other nearby course is the 18-hole Al Maaden, designed by Scottish architect Kyle Philips, which also draws from the region's undulating terrain to offer a variety of water obstacles that satisfy savvy golfers as much as they amuse the amateur. As if the snow-capped mountains weren't enough to marvel at, there is an open-air exhibition of 12 monumental sculptures by renowned international artists that are dotted around the grounds.
For a more challenging course, Bradford recommends the Assoufid Golf Club. 'It's a 40-minute drive out of town, and top golfers swear by it,' he says. The stunning Assoufid won the title of Morocco's Best Golf Course in the 2015 World Golf Awards. In its exceptionally smart clubhouse, you can escape the beating rays of the sun and rub shoulders with any visiting pros.
Relax in a beautiful, contemporary pool villa at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech
Once you've had your fill of manicured green grass, the 18-hole Samanah Country Club – 14km from Jemaa el Fna square – offers a desert-inspired golfing experience. The fairways remain lush, while outside of the playing zone the terrain is convincingly sparse, with only sand, rock, scrub and cacti in immediate sight. Two large lakes break the parched illusion, contributing to a thrilling, if not a little frustrating, element to the game.
The Assoufid golf course
Noria Golf Club's course, only 10 minutes from the city centre, is the most artistic of the bunch. The design is spilt into three six-hole loops, each with a distinct landscape – lavender fields, olive orchards and sand dunes – mimicking a journey or adventure through the country. In celebration of Moroccan culture, traditional elements are incorporated, too, such as reflecting pools, cascades, bell towers and the club's namesake, noria (a wheel with revolving buckets, historically used in villages for collecting river water).
When the sun begins to set, Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech awaits. Its beautiful, contemporary suites and villas provide tempting retreats among the olive groves and fragrant flower-filled gardens, as do the private pools. Or visit The Spa for alfresco treatments to ease your aching muscles and leave you refreshed for another blissful day on the green.