By Cathy Higgins | Oct. 5, 2018
Golfing enthusiasts have a new place to tee up with the opening of Michlifen Golf and Country Club in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
Situated in Ifrane, this Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is Nicklaus Design’s first golf course Morocco. The 18-hole facility wraps around picturesque mountain landscapes and lush forest land, enhancing and protecting the local environment.
Ifrane, also known as “Little Switzerland” for its alpine features, sits between Fez and Meknes at an altitude of 5,400 feet. The surrounding mountains are draped with evergreen and cedar forests and provide a stunning display of landscape for the golf course.
“The golf course has tremendous balance and variety to it,” Nicklaus said. “You go from playing across open areas to playing around rock outcroppings to playing through wooded forests with mature trees, and then you end each nine of the course with spectacular, breathtaking views over the valleys.”
With the combination of high elevation and cooler climate, Nicklaus Design and the agronomic team chose cool-season grasses for the Michlifen course. Distinctly unique for Morocco, Creeping Bentgrass covers the tee and green complexes, while the sand-capped fairways and roughs are predominately Kentucky Bluegrass. Additionally, Fescue and native grasses were incorporated for the outer rough areas.
“With a cold and wet climate during the winter, the sand capping of fairways and roughs was very important,” said Senior Nicklaus Design Associate Dirk Bouts. “These extra measures enable the course to tolerate extended play into the fall and allow for golf to start earlier in the spring.”
In designing the 18-hole course, Nicklaus Design was tasked with integrating it with the existing terrain of Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains.
“Preserving as much of the natural features at Michlifen was most certainly a daunting task,” Bouts said. “However, with the proper equipment and staff, we were able to work with it and shape the golf course as desired by Jack. As much as possible, Jack prefers not to disturb what Mother Nature provides us – he wants the course to blend naturally into the environment.”
Toro installed a state-of-the-art irrigation system throughout the course that only conserves water by only irrigates the areas requiring water. Local Moroccan construction companies were used in the project that started in 2014, while a team of shapers, finishers and other specialists from various countries were selected by the Nicklaus Design team. All materials used for the USGA-specification greens, tees, bunkers and fairways were sourced locally from the North African country.
This five-star resort also features a stylish chalet style hotel with a 3,500 m2 spa, and a wide range of activities including a fully-equipped fitness room, multi sports room, full service spa, swimming pool and tennis courts.
SOURCE: Nicklaus Design