Top is the near island green at the tough par 3, 7th hole and above is the par 5, 6th.
The well designed 3rd green
Looking back down the 13th hole Tough par 3, 17th hole
Palm treats in Marrakech
The moment you pull up outside the Royal Palm Hotel you know you are in for a treat. The philosophy of high standards and attention to detail has been taken forward into this Cabell B Robinson-designed course – I have never seen so many people working on a course since I played the Green Monkey in Barbados.
With the stunning snow-capped Atlas Mountains looking down on nearly every shot, adding another element to this perfectly manicured course, prepare yourself for a soul-soothing round of golf. No matter how badly or well you play, there are not too many better-positioned tracks in the world.
I heard someone say that they thought there was a resort course there, but this is far from being such a course. I think what they meant was that the fairways are wide and there isn’t much chance of you losing too many golf balls, at least not on the holes that don’t have water…
The course opens up with an easy par 4, measuring 448-yards from the black tees down to 332-yards from the reds, with a wide fairway to aim at, but there are out of bounds on the right and one of the many beautifully shaped waste areas running along the left.
But the course comes into its own on the risk-and-reward 357-yard par 4 3rd that has water running down the right and bunkers in the landing area on the left and right. Positioning is key here – or you could just pull out the big dog and go for it.
This is followed by two solid par 4s and a par 5 with water all the way down the left-hand side. Then you come to the course’s signature hole, the par 3 7th hole, which is stroke index one on the scorecard. And at 240-yards, with water all the way down the left to a semi-island green, you can see why. The hole looks stunning and lives up to its stroke index one billing.
I do feel the back nine is the stronger nine and if you play off the back tees you will have a carry over water on the par 4 10th hole. The 11th tee shot plays through two dune-like hills, and if you get a good tee shot away you could well catch the slope, gaining you some extra yards to have a go at the green and setting up an eagle chance on this par 5.
My favourite hole on the course is the tough par 4, 15th. However, before you get there you have another challenging par 3 at the 12th, which plays a lot shorter than you think to the double green that’s shared with the 8th. The 13th is all about placement of the tee shot, with a waste bunker running along the right and then across the fairway 40 yards shot of the green. The 14th is a risk-and-reward driveable par 4.
The drive at the 15th is all-important to give yourself a look at the green. The fairway runs down into a valley, then back up again to a green that is protected on the right by a bunker which runs round to the back of the green. It’s a tough but fair hole and part of a very strong finish to the course.
There is a bit of a walk to the 16th, and this tough par 5 runs around a lake – only the longest hitters will be making this green in two. The tee shot is very intimidating and placement is again key, because you want to put yourself in a position where the water doesn’t come into play again on your second shot.
The par 3 17th is another tough hole, played downhill with water on the right, while the 18th gives you another great birdie chance if you put the ball in the right position.
I think you’ll love everything about the Royal Palm, a course that will test all abilities. And with its wonderful practice facilities and awe-inspiring mountains, this is another stunning track in what is fast becoming a great golf destination.
The 1st hole at Royal Palm Golf Club. All photography
© Peter Corden