I had the great pleasure of playing The Heather course at Boyne Highlands in northern Michigan today. There wind there today would make Scotland proud, and it had its way with my game but I still loved the Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout.
The Heather Course features some of the most amazing, biggest green-side bunkers I’ve ever seen. Okay, they are the biggest I’ve ever seen.
Robert Trent Jones’s courses have such a great flow to them, including the Heather. The conditions were also very wet, with heavy rains the night before. The pond below was flowing onto the fairway.
I’ve got to head out to the next stop here in northern Michigan. Stay tuned for my full review of the Heather soon.
In an 18 hour period I played 36 holes on two golf different golf courses that were the same golf course. Sound confusing? I played the Red and Black courses which comprise Forest Dunes’ “The Loop.”
The Loop is a new course which was designed by golf architecture genius Tom Doak. It is one of three courses at Forest Dunes, in northern Michigan. The Loops is an 18 hole, par-70 course which plays one direction one day, and the opposite direction the next.
This reversible course quite a feat of engineering and creativity on the part of Doak, and I anticipate more and more golf courses will be doing this in the future. Two courses, same acreage.
I’m still mentally processing my rounds on the Loop for a future full blown review after I return from this current World Tour event in Michigan. Stay tuned. If you have questions about The Loop and/or Forest Dunes, let me know.
Forest Dunes is a golf resort in northern Michigan you should definitely put on your golf bucket list. There are four courses on the property, if you count The Loop, which is a reversible course by Tom Doak. Yesterday morning I had the thill of taking on the Forest Dunes Weiskopf course and oh what a beauty she is. I would have made a blog post about this Tour stop sooner, but the resort is quite remote and there’s not much connectivity there. Plus, I spent most of my time there golfing, eating, and sleeping in between.
I can’t quite recall if I’ve played a Weiskopf course before this one, but I must take my HOG hat off and salute Tom for such a fantastic design. Tired and a bit jet lagged I still managed it around in 80 without losing a ball, and there are massive forest areas everywhere one can do that.
The greens were spectacular and terrifyingly fast. It took quite a bit of skill, patience and green reading to navigate them.
I’ll be posting a full review of the Forest Dunes Weiskopf course here in the near future. I’m still in northern Michigan on a golf press trip which will last another five days or so which isn’t giving me much time to write or process images. Stay tuned. Until then enjoy some Forest Dunes photos.
Above: dew sweeping.
Below: panorama showing the 19th hole. Yes there is a 19th hole.
On my recent trip to Morocco I had the opportunity to stay at some truly special and unique places, and I’m excited to share those places and experiences. Today’s review/share is of the Villa Mandarine, in Rabat Morocco.
Before I cover the Villa itself, let’s get some geography information. Rabat is the capitol of Morocco. It is located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, about one hour northeast of Casablanca.
The city’s population is roughly 580,000. I’ll cover nearby attractions and activities later.
Villa Mandarine Overview
Villa Mandarine is a small, secluded oasis minutes from all the action in Rabat. It’s practically in a residential area, hidden behind a wall around the edge of the property, which is traditional in much Moroccan architecture.
Inside the grounds is a practical rain forest of vegetation, immaculately maintained. The three-acre estate features 700 orange trees and tons of flowers.
Small trails wind around and lead to sitting areas, sculptures, activities, and of course the villas themselves.
There are 31 villas and 5 suites at Villa Mandarine. Each villa has a large main room, entry, large bathroom and fantastic terrace overlooking the grounds.
The quarters are very warm and welcoming, as are the hotel lobby, restaurants, and bar. The luxury rooms are so inviting and relaxing, it’s hard to decide whether to stay in or venture out to the terrace, or the grounds to soak in the mellow vibe.
If you can’t relax here, there’s probably no hope for you.
Along with the beautiful and serene gardens, guests can lounge at the swimming pool and hot tub.
If you fancy a game of ping pong, you’re covered. I had a great match with fellow golf blogger and golf buddy John Duval, from IntoTheGrain.com.
Food & Beverage
The restaurant at Villa Mandarine is fantastic. I enjoyed several meals there, featuring traditional moroccan dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are selections for every possible palette, including a kids menu. Lunch out on the terrace was particularly great, between the excellent food and the fabulous environment.
Villa Mandarine’s bar/lounge is great. Every possible drink is served and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. I could kick myself… well I have actually been kicking myself, for not enjoying some of the Cuban cigars there.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
There is some fantastic golf nearby, at Dar Es Salaam Golf Club. Dar Es Salaam is an award winning Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design, lined with mature trees and featuring some tremendous golf holes.
In the city of Rabat one can find fantastic shopping and dining at the Medina. Be sure to rock the Kasbah. For sightseeing I recommend visiting the historic Hasaan Tower, and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V. Don’t forget to visit the Royal Palace.
Mausoleum of Mohammad V, Rabat Morocco
Last but not least, Rabat is on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the beaches and you’ll see why Morocco is a well known secret haven for surfing huge waves.
A visit to Morocco should be on everyone’s bucket list. The sights, tastes, sounds, golf, and experiences will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. Villa Mandarine fits right into that formula, providing a tremendous, welcoming, and comfortable home base.
On my recent golf trip to Morocco I had the fabulous opportunity to stay at the 5-Star Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in El Jadida, Morocco. Mazagan Beach & Golf is a very large resort with hotel, casino, spa, huge pool, beach on the Atlantic Ocean, and a Gary Player design golf course.
Location Location Location
What a tremendous location Mazagan Beach & Golf occupies. It’s basically and oceanside paradise lined with palm trees. The huge grounds are immaculately maintained and full of fantastic designs and creative landscapes.
The resort’s architecture reflects traditional Moroccan traditions but still has a modern and clean look and feel.
Below notice the open door? That’s my room.
My room, lower right
Below is the view from inside the room, looking out to the pool area.
Turning around from the view out to the pool, this is the room.
Food and Beverage
My group enjoyed some traditional Moroccan food in the MORJANA Restaurant. The Lebanese/Moroccan food and Moroccan wine was fantastic.
Lamb, chicken, beef kebobs
Triangles with filo dough on the outside. Inside is either meat or cheese
The restaurant featured a musician playing a stringed instrument I’m not familiar with. Looked like a bouzouki but it wasn’t. Then after that we were treated to a belly dancer who was fantastic.
John (GolfBlogger.com) enjoys the show
John (above) enjoyed watching the belly dancer, but yours truly was the one she picked to dance. Never before have such awful dance moves (mine, not the belly dancer’s) been on display in the content of Africa. I guarantee it.
I had NO idea how many knots I had in my back. It was a great thing that I was able to get a massage while at Mazagan. The masseuse was incredible. She found, and resolved knots in places I didn’t know existed. It really helped out my endurance and flexibility for the rest of the golf trip.
While working out some knots the masseuse, who spoke nearly zero english asked, “you work on computer?” She could tell. I responded, “world famous golf blogger. If I’m not on the golf course I’m at the computer penning Blogitzer Prize winning golf blog posts.” Actually, I just said yes.
I did not test my luck at the casino, though I did take a quick look in. Very nice. My bank account thanked me for my self-control.
I’ll be posting a review of the Gary Player designed Mazagan Golf Club soon. The course runs along Mazagan beach. Huge breakers crash in on the shore. Huge. Now I know why some friends of mine take the trip to Morocco to surf.
The course is very fun to play, and not so difficult that it demoralizes you.
Think outside of North America.
Casablanca, Morocco is a 6.5 hour flight from JFK Airport in New York. From there it’s not a long drive to Mazagan. Rather than traveling in the USA or to Mexico for your next golf trip, you could be in fabulous Morocco enjoying a 5-Star resort, great food, beach, surfing, gaming, lodging, and golf at Mazagan.