A very private 18-hole layout that you will not find listed in any Moroccan golf directory, the Golf du Palais Royal d’Agadir course is a Robert Trent Jones Snr design that lies within the heavily guarded ramparts of the Royal Palace in Agadir where it made its first appearance to a select few golfers in 1987.
Situated amongst the sand hills beside the Atlantic Ocean, the fairways of the Palais Royal course are laid out in two returning nines, each of which play to a par of 36. The property may be located close to the shoreline but the high security walls that surround the palace keep the outside world at arm’s length, even at holes 3 and 4, the two par fours that are closest to the ocean on the most westerly edge of the palace grounds.
The opening par five hole sets the scene for the round where a veritable sea of sand on either side of the fairway confronts the golfer on the tee. Avoiding those deep and deadly bunkers is the order of the day as the beautifully manicured fairway veers right to a pneumatically jacked up green that’s surrounded by yet more sand.
According to the European Tour website, two of the holes on this course were amongst the most eighteen most difficult holes encountered by professionals throughout the 2015 season, during their participation in the Trophée Hassan II tournament:
17th toughest hole was the par three 2nd, playing to a length of 208 yards.
The average score was 3.40 and the ratio of birdies or better versus bogeys or worse was 28/155, with Richard Green recording the highest score (7) in the event.
This hole’s the first of four par threes on the course, with each of that quartet measuring at least 200 yards. Precision from the tee is key as there are steep run-offs surrounding the raised green. Richie Ramsay managed to card a par at this very difficult hole in each of the four rounds on his way to victory in the 2015 edition of the event.
14th toughest hole was the par four 18th, playing to a length of 484 yards.
The average score was 4.43 and the ratio of birdies or better versus bogeys or worse was 31/168, with five players each recording the highest score of 7 in the event.
With two fairway bunkers down the right and a raised green that cants markedly from back to front, there’s lots for players to contend with on the finishing hole here. With many of the players posting bogey figures or worse, Pelle Edberg and Matteo Manassero somehow managed to shoot two under on this hole during the week.
Precision play is essential around here, otherwise the steep run off slopes around the greens will prove very costly – and that’s certainly the case at the two long par threes at holes 2 and 8 where upturned saucer greens repel all but perfectly placed tee shots.
The only water-threatened hole on the front nine is the beautiful 580-yard 5th, where the pin is cut behind a couple of ponds to the front left and right of the green. The aquatic challenge intensifies after the turn though, first at the par five 10th, followed by the two beautiful par threes at 12 and 14, where water lurks front and right of both putting surfaces. The course, which hosted the Moroccan Open six times during the 1990s, was used between 2011 and 2015 as the venue for the European Tour’s Trophée Hassan II competition, an event that moved back to Royal Dar Es Salam Golf Club in Rabat from its short-term home in Agadir in 2016.