Al Maaden Golf

Words by: Alex Ames
Photography by:Douglas Guillot & Ollie Allison

Where can you ski in the morning, golf in the afternoon and buy a Cobra at night for £6.50? Not a driver or a beer, but an actual serpent, replete with spitting features and detachable jaw. We’re in Morocco. A world away from the dreary streets of London, to photograph our Spring Summer 2024 campaign. We passed on the Cobra purchase.

Why Morocco? Well, the country makes a strong case for Africa’s best golf destination. During winter, pale golfers arrive in their thousands from cold, grey Europe to warm up their bones and swing in the hot sun. In Marrakech alone Assoufid, Al Maaden, Royal Palm, Savannah Golf Club, Montgomery and many many more make up a delectable menu of courses well worth the 3 and a half hour, £60 flight from the UK. Even if it is with Easy Jet.

The course we’re on is one of a kind. Al Maaden’s gigantic rectangular pools pay homage to the famous Menara gardens of Marrakech, apparently “opening the sport to a modern and artistic universe.” 12 monumental art works adorn various holes of Al Maaden, custom-made sculptures that tower over the tee boxes. Towering over them are the monolithic Atlas Mountains baking in the African sun, As a simple band of travelling Brits we are awe struck, and sunburnt.

Golf was brought to Morocco in 1914 under French rule but lay dormant until 1971 when King Hassan II became one of the most powerful men ever to get the bug. Such is the will of a king that Morocco immediately began to invest heavily in golf courses and tournaments. King Hassan even built a reputation for furthering diplomatic relations on the golf course. Over 100 years on from the first swing, Morocco rivals veteran European destinations such as Portugal and Spain with 30 premiere courses. The sport is part of the very fabric of the country.

When importing the game, Moroccans added local luxuries and as a result there are few places in the world where the game is more beautiful. Cavernous stone clubhouses and infinity pools abound. But unlike some other countries, the Moroccans combine luxury with accessibility. Children from less fortunate families are encouraged to take up the sport and groups like the Mogador Golf Academy in Essaouira exist to ensure that in Morocco, like Scotland, golf is a game for everyone.