Golf has soared in popularity in the Middle East and North Africa, from Algeria to Qatar. But one country in the region has a sizable head start: Morocco.
The sport has been here since the British exported it in the early years of the 20th century. But it gained momentum in the midcentury, thanks to King Hassan II — ruler from 1961 to 1999 — who was golf-crazy and saw the sport as a tool to help his country enter a market-based economy.
The king built several courses crafted by some of the world’s top designers, and in 1971 created a golf tournament now called Trophée Hassan II, a permanent part of the European Tour.
The country now has more than 40 highly regarded courses, and both their number and popularity are growing fast. It doesn’t hurt that golf is at the center of Morocco’s latest tourism push, and that Prince Moulay Rachid, Hassan II’s son and the younger brother of King Mohammed VI, is an avid golfer. Or that the weather is sunny more than 300 days a year.
Al Maaden Golf Resort, which opened in 2008, a few minutes south of the winding streets of Marrakesh. (Many of the city’s newer courses are clustered south of its center, in an area that’s less traditional.)
These types of homes, more prevalent in recent years, are more squared off, pared down, large-windowed and free-flowing. But outside they often emulate the burnt orange, clay-like surfaces of traditional Moroccan homes — usually a mixture of troweled concrete, lime and earth — and their fluid connections between inside and out. And inside they contain handmade craft and abstract detail, like filigreed screens, bright fabrics and geometric ceramic tiles, whose abstract patterns work well for both traditional and modern settings.
“The craftsmanship you get is very specific,” said David Schneuwly, another French transplant. Mr. Schneuwly founded Villanovo, a company that rents villas around the country, and elsewhere around the world. (About 20 percent of his Moroccan listings go to golf vacationers, he said.) “It shows in the details of the mashrabiya [projecting wood latticework windows] and the subtle variations in color and line.”