April saw the opening of the Casa Green Golf Club in Casablanca, Morocco.
Part of the Casa Green Town real estate development, the course has been developed by Compagnie Générale Immobilière (CGI) and is managed by Braemar Golf Maroc, a joint venture between CGI and Braemar Golf. The Casa Green Golf Club was designed by Jeremy Pern, and combines links-style fairways with dry water beds and desert style vegetation to provide a distinctly Moroccan flavour to the course.
The project was first conceptualised back in 2008, and the selected site was, according to Pern, ‘about as blank as it gets’. The site was comprised of undulating stony ground that lay a few inches deep above a soft layer of limestone. Far from ideal for a golf course, Pern had a different way of looking at the site than many would have.
“It rapidly became clear to me that an unusual opportunity for a very unique golf course layout had just presented itself,” said Pern. “By locating the clubhouse where it sits today and configuring the course around lakes in crux of the wave at the base of the valley, we would have an astounding view over 15 holes.”
Pern put particular importance on creating a strong landscape feature that could link up the many parts of the course and make for a memorable and challenging round. “From the very highest point on the site, in front of the fourth tees, right down to the lake in front of the ninth tees, we created a series of Oueds (dry water courses) of different depths and widths, snaking through or beside holes 4, 3, 2, 16, 15, 14, 17, and curling around the back of greens 8 and 11,” said Pern.
Pern also highlighted his three favourite holes on the course, saying the par-three ninth hole, par-four sixth hole and par-five seventeenth hole are particularly pleasing features to the course.
Pern describes the ninth as featuring “A very intimidating set up from the back tees, but a comfortable almost risk-free hole from the very forward tees the green side of the lake. The green itself is a huge 700 metres squared expanse of undulating, fine turf, but about 30 per cent is hidden behind a grassy knoll on the right side.” Strong bunker shaping distorts the length of the hole, according to Pern, and with the pin placed on the left side of the green, the chances of a par are fairly reduced.
The sixth hole runs 350 metres and features 11 scattered bunkers on either side of the fairway and to the front right of the green. Pern said: “At first glance the fairway landing area looks inviting enough, but it rapidly become obvious that the safer you play your tee shot, the further away you are from the green. Temptation lurks for the overconfident long hitters to play to the smaller fairway area behind the fearsome bunkering on the right side of the hole.”
And the 520 metre seventeenth hole, while not the longest par five, is among Pern’s favourites on the Casa Green course. The fairway is lined with cactus plants and an Oued lies to the right. The green’s lazy bumps and dip can prove tricky, but the biggest problem lies in the golfing decision of whether or not to attack the hole and cut a corner on the right hand side of the fairway, but Pern encourages erring on the side of caution, as the slightest error could see the finding of the three hidden bunkers and a ruined card.
“If you don’t attack the green with your second shot the risks are minimal and no real punishment lies in the green approach,” said Pern.
“But for those who attack the green from a long way off, be warned – the cost of a misfire and a subsequent reload may be considerably higher than you first reckoned,” warned Pern. “Perspectives and angles are tricky to accurately assess and the shadows and edges of the mounding exaggerate the dangers by drawing the eye away from the flag. The view is a busy one and concentration is needed.”
Braemar Golf’s managing director Keith Haslam told GCA progress with membership sales has been very positive at Casa Green and that the club will be semi-private.
“With the likes of Royal El Jadida and Mazagan, we’re starting to create another little hub of golf in Morocco. The country has a great culture, and is a gateway between Europe, Africa and the Arab culture,” said Haslam. “It is a place with huge potential, and its proximity to Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean means that the area is only likely to grow in golfing terms.”
It is hoped that Casa Green will advance Casablanca’s golfing reputation within Morocco. According to Haslam, 80 per cent of the Casa Green Town development properties have been purchased by Casablanca locals. “The project was domestically led and planned, designed and visioned to meet the needs of the local market in terms of providing a quality residential community environment,” said Haslam. “There has been a real aim of developing practice facilities, such as the academy and practice putting greens, as well as the magnificent clubhouse acting as a social hub for the community and those using the golf course. We want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to play golf. We have real desire to help grow the game of golf, as well providing the best facilities.”