A very private 18-hole layout that you will not find listed in any Moroccan golf directory, the Golf du Palais Royal díAgadir 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 armís 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 thatís surrounded by yet more sand.
Precision play is essential around here, otherwise the steep run off slopes around the greens will prove very costly Ė and thatís 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, has been used since 2011 as the venue for the European Tourís Trophťe Hassan II competition, an event that moved from Royal Dar Es Salam Golf Club in Rabat to its new home in Agadir.
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Average Reviewers Score:
I was fortunate enough to participate in the pro-am at the Trophťe Hassan II a couple of weeks ago and was completely blown away by the quality of this course. Perfectly manicured fairways, fantastic bunker complexes and wonderfully contoured greens made this one of the best (and toughest) tracks that Iíve ever played. I wasnít over enamoured with the last RTJ course Iíd encountered - Ballybunion (Cashen) in Ireland - but this offering from the old master had me in raptures from start to finish. You know youíre in for a serious test of golf on the doglegged first hole (stroke index 2) when you see how many enormous bunkers are in play between the tee and a seriously elevated green. The 2nd tee is one of the highest points on the course and itís from here as you look around that you can see just how undulating the course really is. The five par threes on the Royal Palace course are all tantalising, but testing short holes - only the 14th hole measures less than 200 yards - though my favourite hole on the card was the 580-yard par five 5th, which starts off in high ground amongst the dunes before plunging downhill to a fabulous green perched behind protective ponds on either side. Iím not normally a big fan of water holes but this one just fitted the land so effortlessly. On the back nine, the par three 12th is regarded as the signature hole on the course and itís a real beauty, played across wetlands and water to a two-tiered green. Our group of three all managed a par but I noticed on the PGA website after the Hassan Trophy event was over that the pro I played with, Garth Mulroy, had taken a NINE on the third day (to follow a 7 at the par four 11th) to scupper any chances of a good finish in the competition Ė just shows how even top golfers can come to grief at such a beguiling hole. Not many non-professionals get to play here so it was a real privilege to get the chance to do so and if the Royal Palace course is the standard to which Robert Trent Jones Snr carried out all his work in Morocco, then I really need to return some day to measure it against his 45-hole complex at Royal Dar Es Salam in Rabat. Jim McCann.