As an emerging golfing region, North Africa is increasingly receiving the attention of the global golf development community. With growing investment from both domestic and international sources, the region is an important case study for the integration of the golf industry with national economic, environmental and social concerns.
Recognising the importance of these issues for the growth of the game in this part of the world, The R&A recently attended a new forum, ‘Golf in North Africa – Setting the New Standards’, which was held in Marrakech from 9-10 November 2011. Organised jointly by Tim Lobb, Golf Course Architect - Thomson Perrett & Lobb, Adam Lawrence, Editor – Golf Course Architecture and Andy Brown, Corporate Accounts Manager – Toro, the event attracted approximately 60 delegates from diverse geographical and professional backgrounds. Attendees included Royal Moroccan Golf Federation representatives, turf management professionals, irrigation consultants, golf course architects, golf developers and agents from golf investment groups.
“The aim of holding this event was, essentially, to provide a staging ground for meaningful discussions around the future of the golf industry in North Africa”, commented Tim Lobb. “Morocco has been an epicentre of new golf developments in recent years, with a further 11 courses currently under construction to add to the 25 already in play. In this respect, Marrakech was a perfect venue to host an international conference for examining what the growth of the game can contribute to North Africa as a whole”.
Over the course of the event, delegates had the opportunity to visit both existing courses and new developments still under construction, with on-site tours and analysis being offered by project managers and industry representatives. Field visits were supplemented by multiple panel discussions covering topics including masterplanning and golf course design, the intricacies of building and maintaining golf courses in North Africa, managing golf course operations and the impacts of global golf tourism. Discussions on sustainability and the economic, environmental and social benefits of well-managed golf courses featured as a prominent theme throughout the conference.
A topic of particularly high relevance to the future of golf in North Africa is water management. With temperatures capable of reaching above 45 degrees Centigrade in high summer, irrigation pressure is the primary issue facing the future sustainability of the game. The golf development community in Marrakech is leading a pioneering new water management programme by which all of the city’s waste water is now collected and treated to be used as irrigation water for golf courses. The project has been primarily funded by the golf development community, in a process whereby a contribution of 2.7 million Euros entitles developers to an annual supply of treated irrigation water. Since the city of Marrakech had no waste water treatment programme in place before this new initiative, the enterprise has brought with it considerable social benefits.
“Water management is undoubtedly the main issue facing the future sustainability of golf facilities around the world”, remarked Steve Isaac, The R&A’s Director of Golf Course Management. “Combined with on-going commitments to reduce total water requirements through improving management approaches, it is also very important that golf courses work to source the water they do use in more responsible manners. The example from Marrakech proves testament to the many benefits that can be derived from effective water recycling programmes”.
A full feature article on the water management programme being implemented in Marrakech will be available from this website in due course.