A new golf course, Golf de Saïdia Teelal, opened for play in Morocco this summer. It was designed by French professional golfer-turned architect Nicolas Joakimides.
The 18-hole layout is the second course in the resort of Saïdia, which is in the north-east of the country, near the border with Algeria. The first course was designed by Spanish architect Francisco Segalés.
In contrast to Segalés’ ‘American-style’ design, Joakamides has been inspired by links golf, suitable for the sandy site that plays close to the beach. He describes the course as having “a wild look with plenty of bare sand, beach grass, broom and blow-out bunkers.”
Morocco-based company Valtech began the construction process in January 2016 with bush clearing. Joakimides himself spent April to October 2016 shaping tees, bunkers and greens, with the seeding of greens completed in 2017, and the grassing of tees and fairways in 2018.
The course opened for guest and member play in May 2018 and there was a soft opening event this month for an amateur team tournament. The official opening will be held in 2019.
“Teelal really plays as a links course but without the drawbacks of original links golf, which are – not from my point of view, but for a lot of people – bad weather, blind shots, five-minute searches in the rough, lost balls and endless length for shorter hitters,” said Joakimides.
Joakimides said the playability of the course is enhanced by the absence of water hazards and rough, plus a limit to the number of bunkers and 60-yard-wide fairways. There is plenty of short grass around the greens, no forced carries and the slopes help average shots.
“It is the easiest course in the world to walk!” said Joakimides. “The land is gently undulating and the distance between green and next tee is very short. I wanted players to be able to reach par fours and fives in regulation and have birdie putts. It’s a walking-only policy and it plays fast because of all these characteristics combined.
“It is a fun course – the second and third holes are drivable par fours. Holes nine, eleven and fifteen are all reachable par fives. Creativity and variety are favoured with uneven lies, undulating greens and the everyday gentle breeze. Five elevated greens play a part too.
“My favourite greens are the punchbowl type – they are great fun! I especially like greens at holes two, seven, nine and seventeen. This course is really about playing with the slopes to get your ball closer.”
Joakimides said that strategy plays an important role. The course has bunkers in the line of play, a split fairway on hole twelve, and fairways that require players to hit to one side in order to be in position for an easier shot to the green.
The architect has also designed a Himalayas-style putting course – named Atlas, after Morocco’s mountain range.
“The practice area and the first five holes are coastal in nature as they run alongside Saïdia beach. Holes six to ten and fifteen to eighteen wander to and from the clubhouse while eleven to fourteen loop through areas where there are homes.” said Joakimides.
Read more: for more images of the course, including the full routing map and some additional information.
“I did my best to deliver a beautiful, friendly and exciting course, favouring creativity and strategy,” said Joakimides. “I really hope to design a third course here in Saïdia.”