Marrakesh – 23-28 April 2018
The first course played was Noria, sadly in rather cool and grey conditions and as a first introduction to Moroccan golf it was a surprise we were not playing in blazing sunshine. As always, the tour comprises five rounds, with the best four to count towards the Foster Plate.
A very wide range of stableford scores ranging from 20 to 36 against an average of 30.29 evidenced some inexperience of the fast greens and different conditions but nothing fazed John Ambery and Jan Rommer who both shot 36 points, John taking the honours on a countback. Close behind were Alex Heath and Vice Captain Allan Kerr, both on 34.
With John Ambery taking a two shot cut and Jan Rommer one shot into the second day at Assoufid the scoring was quite a lot lower on this challenging course, with some long carries over stony patches of desert and very quick greens. The wether intervened with heavy downpours that flooded the greens and made bow waves in front of the buggies. No-one managed to score 30 points, but Steven Spencer took the day with 29 on a countback from David Ratcliffe and Frits Beek, who narrowly missed being cut a shot on a close countback. The average score was 25.71 and at the close the leader was Jan Rommer on 65 points with Frits Beek lying second on 62. Close behind on 61 were John Ambery and Martin Abbott.
The third day took us to Ourika in, at last, some sunshine and rising temperatures, which showed in slightly improved scoring. The average for the day was 26.80. The day went to Alex Heath with 32 points, from Frits Beek, also on 32, on a count back. Close behind were The Captain, Edward Sawbridge, Martin Abbott and Brian Woodbridge, all scoring 31. The field was beginning to look a little strung out now and at the close of the third day the leaders on 93 points were Jan Rommer and Frits Beek, with Martin Abbott on 92 and Alex Heath and Brian Woodbridge on 90.
With two rounds left, the party went to Samanah, a Rob Draisey suggestion and a very good one. The weather stayed fine again and the day’s average score was 27.14. Once again fast greens and some rocky ravines and hard fairways took their toll of some of the party. John Ambery had little trouble and ran out a clear winner with 33 points, which together with his victory on the first day saw his handicap cut from 13 to 9 for the last day. runner up was Jon’s old sparring partner, Jan Rommer with 32 points, with only Alex Heath managing to get to 30 points. At the close of the fourth day the outright leader was Jan Rommer on 125 from Frits Beek and Alex Heath on 120, Martin Abbott on 119, Brian Woodbridge on 118 and the Captain on 114.
The final day saw the party back at Assoufid with everything to play for. Jan Rommer elected not to play the final round and risked everything on his 5 point lead. To erode that lead, taking into account their lowest scores to be discarded, was a big challenge but both Alex Heath and John Ambery made a valiant attempt. A late rally by the Vice Captain, Allan Kerr with a 34 was not enough either. Jan took home the Foster Plate with 125 points from John Ambery on 122 and Alex Heath on 121, the Captain, Martin Abbott and Frits Beek all lying on 120.
The party is indebted to local resident and Captain of Assoufid, Egbert Veldman, for helping sort out all problems on the ground and for his excellent company as he joined the party as a non-competitor. Thanks also go to the captain, Edward Sawbridge, for organising a thoroughly enjoyable tour, including excellent restaurants and a visit to the Souk that almost saw the Vice Captain returning with or on a magic carpet.