Morocco's King Hassan II Trophy officially added to the 2010 European Tour schedule
Reports from the European Tour this week reveal two tournaments are being added to their 2010 Race to Dubai schedule, while three existing events will be dropped.
But one of the new events that caught my eye is by no means a new tournament: The King Hassan II Trophy in Morocco’s capital city of Rabat.
Morocco’s largest sporting event, it was founded by the late King Hassan II along with the assistance American golf legend Billy Casper 35 years ago in order to help spread golf to new places. Since then, it’s been a tournament that’s slid somewhat under the radar with a small field, usually of about two dozen golfers, plus a similar field on the women’s side, competing for the Princess Lalla Cup, which next year will move to the Mohammedia Royal Golf Club outside Casablanca and will be staged on the Ladies European Tour the same week.
I attended the event last year, which welcomed Ernie Els to Morocco for the first time. He drew a lot of the headlines and took home the trophy, while Laura Davies won the women’s competition. Next year, it will be moved to March and will be included in the Race to Dubai end-of-year cash grab, so more top names will be sure to come to the country (many of whom for the first time). The event has always been held in high esteem in Morocco, and its safe to say that with the new European Tour designation, the country will spare no expense attracting the top names in the sport to Morocco, all of whom are sure to be given the regal treatment.
The golf club, Royal Dar es Salam Golf Club, has 45 holes, and the headlining Red Course is very good. I liken it to that of the best lowcountry-style courses in Myrtle Beach, only it’s about half the cost, and caddies cost practically nothing. Rabat isn’t the first golf destination you’d think of in Morocco. For that, you want to head to Marrakech or perhaps coastal Agadir. Rabat is more traditional Muslim in most spots, and women aren’t even allowed in a lot of bars, as my party found out one night out on the town.
But the country has jumped on board into golf, to help build business and develop a growing middle class. The Moroccan National Tourist Office has launched a five-year golf initiative to the grow the game and build new golf resorts and facilities throughout the country. To date, it’s not even close in quantity to nearby Andalucia just across the Mediterranean Sea in the south of Spain, but Morocco offers an entirely different kind of golf and culture vacation, one I hope to check out a little more beyond Rabat sometime.
Here’s a photo gallery of Rabat and the action on the golf course:
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