Just barely open
First out of the new courses on this trip is Palm Golf Marrakech Ourika. Situated just south of Marrakech, this is a sister course to Palm Golf Marrakech, formerly known as Palmeraie.
There’s nothing wrong with Palmeraie, but right from the start it was obvious that the ambition level here at Ourika is much higher than at the “older” Palmeraie, starting with gps-equipped golf carts (included in green fee) and a nice range with free range balls.
The course is quite long at almost 6700 meters from the back tees, but there are a five tee boxes to choose from. This, in combination with fairly wide fairways, makes the course playable by players of any skill level – provided that you swallow your pride and choose the right tee box. The course has not been sloped yet, but going by length you should be able to pick correctly. We choose the yellow tees at 5866 meters, and found the course quite playable.
As with most courses around Marrakech, the rough is dominated by waste areas. At Ourika, they were well maintained, and we had no trouble finding and playing the ball in the majority of cases. As the course matures and the trees come into play more the waste areas will most likely be more of a penalty than they are today.
Other than the waste areas, the course is well bunkered, and several of the holes have strategically placed water hazards, adding both difficulty and beauty to the course. Hole seven, picture above, is a good example, a long par five with an approach shot over/parallel to a long water hazard to an elevated green. A beautiful risk/reward setup. I took the risk, but unfortunately didn’t get the reward 🙁 Hole nine is another beautiful water hole, with the green right next to the lake that separates nine and eighteen.
On the back nine, you encounter a different type of water hazard; a water skiing arena. Right next to the tee boxes on hole eleven is a large artificial lake, with a tow cable setup for water skiing, all owned by the same company that owns the golf course. We didn’t have a chance to try it this time around, but it sure looked fun.
The rest of the back nine has a bit less water, until you get to the 18th hole, my favorite hole on the course. A par five dogleg left with a lake on the left side, it really invites you to go for the green on your second shot. I failed, but another player in our group succeeded, and it sure made his day. His eagle put stopped an inch short, otherwise we surely could have enjoyed free beer in the bar.
The greens are worth mentioning. The areas around the greens are well maintained with good runoff areas, and the greens themselves are undulated but not overly so. On the par threes they are well protected by bunkers, but on the others more sparsely bunkered, giving you the opportunity to choose a running game if you wish.
My impression of Palm Golf Ourika was very favorable. Once the course matures a bit I think it will be one of the nicest ones in the area.