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The Royal Air Maroc Golf Day

 

Dominic Pedler reports on the club competition which next year will see the leading pairs qualify for a spectacular trip to Marrakesh.

There were no palm trees or mirages at The Hertfordshire last week - and the only sandy vistas were in the bunkers - but the early October sunshine was suitably Moroccan for the final of this year's Royal Air Maroc Golf Trophy.

The leading two mixed pairs from a dozen participating clubs around the south-east had qualified for this 18-hole stableford foursomes event. And along with the chance to play this stately parkland gem at Broxbourne, the winners were guaranteed automatic entry into next year's UK final, when at least eight pairs will qualify for the Grand Final in Marrakesh.

With a score of 38 points, N. McAnally & Mrs M. Livingston from Ashford GC, in Middlesex, won the day sponsored by Morocco's leading airline, in conjunction with the Moroccan Tourist Board and promoted by Golf Today. A Grand Final was originally scheduled to have taken place in Morocco, this November, but temporarily fell foul of the R&A's technicalities on amateur status which limit such sumptuous prizes to the geographic boundaries of Europe.

Of course, being barely 30-minutes flying time beyond the Costa del Sol, Morocco has been rapidly gaining a reputation as an honorary European golf destination in its own right. And, with the PGA Tour already happy to rewrite the continental boundaries, the R&A is now set to follow suit in the new millennium.

"We are delighted that the R&A will be changing the rules to include Morocco on the list of destinations where amateur golfers can enjoy all-expenses-paid prize trips without question," Royal Air Maroc, Chief Charafe Lamriki told Golf Today at the official dinner at The Hertfordshire.

"Our country is only 3 1/2 hours flying time from the UK - the same distance as many locations within the continent of Europe!" But for golfers who miss out on the airline's benevolence in the competition, the latest tourism push confirms the country's impressive golfing status. 16 courses spanning Marrakesh, Tangier, Casablanca, Rabat and the coastal resort of Agadir, are drawing golfers - along with the promise of weather to match the Canaries and a unique local flavour.

"The Royal Air Maroc Trophy helps to raise the awareness among UK golfers of the great golf in Morocco," continues Lamriki. "We believe the country has fantastic facilities and it is soon to become even more accessible," he adds, referring to his airline's new route. On 31st October, Royal Air Maroc launches the twice-weekly Stansted-to-Marrakesh flight taking golfers to a variety of courses including the lavish Palmeraie Golf Palace & Resort, the site for next year's Grand Final.

Royal Air Maroc expects some British 25 golf clubs to enter next year's competition. Meanwhile, following their showing at The Hertfordshire, those competitors with a guaranteed passport into next year's UK final include:- Mr N McAnally & Mrs M Livingston (Ashford GC): 38 pts Mr Barry Drew & Mrs Angela Reece (Moatlands GC): 33 pts Mr & Mrs Torkington (Essex GC): 33 pts

For more details on the Royal Air Maroc Trophy (and golf in Morocco generally) contact: Royal Air Maroc: 0171 439 8854 The Moroccan Tourist Board: 0171 020 7437 0073 Destination Golf: 0181 891 5151