The Robert Trent Jones Snr designed course, par 72 and set in 77 magnificent hectares, is not as easy as suspect, after playing the relatively straightforward first two holes, the players taking part in the French PGA Pro-Am Championship found, to their cost. Their scores here are higher here than on the other local courses - appearances can be deceptive.
The greens are very firm and undulating; do not overclub and listen to your caddy's advice as regards slopes. The rough is not too punishing and the trees, mainly palms, are not too close together but there is a great deal of water and reeds, with seven lakes coming into play!
The 9th is the toughest hole on the course; a dogleg to the right, with water all down the right from tee to green. The highlight of your round however, and the "bete noire" of many, is sure to be the par 3 17th, only stroke index 8, but where you must carry over a lake while avoiding another one on the right and two bunkers left of the green.
Also outstanding are the long par 4 dogleg right 5th, a hard, well-protected hole, and the very tricky 10th with out of bounds left, practice ground and water right, plus bunkers left and the green protected by three more bunkers. You cannot afford to relax after negotiating the 9th!
Opinions vary about the long par 5 12th, shaped like a Z, but it is a good hole tactically with a large bunker protecting the middle of the fairway and trees on the right after the bunker - try and stay left!
The easiest hole is the 11th, pleasant respite after the difficulties of the 9th and 10th. You'll have a touch of deja vu as it is very similar to the 8th, both short par 3s with a bunker in front. However the 8th, St. Andrews fashion, shares its green with the 10th. The main Palmeraie course is different from the 9 hole extension which is much harder and longer. As a matter of fact, the new nine-hole course is much more difficult and used for tournaments in combination with the harder back nine of the present course. It features four large lakes coming into play on six holes, but multiple tee boxes make it playable by everybody; opened since late 2008.
The air here is deliciously pure, the course being situated nearly 1500 feet above sea level. People from other Moroccan towns come here for their holiday, from Casablanca, for example, which has a more humid climate. There is no strict dress code at La Palmeraie, no formality, no big machinery tending the course, but instead an army of friendly people who will always offer a smile and a greeting. There is a sense of relaxation and a feeling of peace after visiting the busy Medina; all you have to do is enjoy your round in beautiful surroundings amongst cypress, palms, olives and apricot trees and admire the distant Atlas Mountains, the highest range in North Africa.
The Clubhouse is a wonderful authentic building inspired by the local spirit. Right in the middle of the course, in order to help players relaxing after the first nine hole part. It has a very cosy and peaceful club-bar, a Moroccan gastronomic restaurant "El Kermoussa", terraces and locker rooms. Along its 6205 meters, players will appreciate the contrast between the ochre hills that remind you that Desert is meters away and the seven lakes and thousand palm trees surrounding the course. An underground parking with 100 car slots is made for the players, and also a wide storage for Buggies and caddies.
The Golf Academy "Palmeraie Golf Institute" is a significant added value: the staff's efficiency, several formation programs offered, and the availability of the professionals makes it a must-see school for those who want to learn how to play or those who want to improve their level, or simply those who simply want to have fun.
Palmeraie Golf Club, a real golfers' paradise!
- Robert Trent Jones Sr