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WHERE A GOLF NUT IS KING
Dan Jenkins
September 28, 1970
Morocco's monarch plays with equipment that's personally inscribed, imports former Masters champion Claude Harmon as his personal pro and plays many of his rounds on a sporty course with a tee built atop a 1,200-year-old wall of the royal palace
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September 28, 1970

Where A Golf Nut Is King

Morocco's monarch plays with equipment that's personally inscribed, imports former Masters champion Claude Harmon as his personal pro and plays many of his rounds on a sporty course with a tee built atop a 1,200-year-old wall of the royal palace

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Jaidi spoke good English and good everything else, so the heat was off. Jaidi's job was largely that of entertaining Claude and seeing that he got where the king wanted him to be each day. His job was also to bargain for Claude in the Casbahs and try to prevent him from buying every brass tray and Moroccan carpet in existence.

"Claude, you can't cure the economic ills of our country singlehanded," Jaidi would say.

"Don't you understand?" Claude would reply. "I love your country, Monsieur Jaidi."

Fez is cradled by hills, but it crawls up the sides of some of them, its old fading cream structures and brown ruins ringed by rich green beauty. For all of its age, you can do things in Fez you wouldn't dare do or try to do in, let us say, Mexico or Spain—like eat anything, drink the tap water and get one-day dry cleaning. It is simply a remarkably pretty, enchanting and friendly city with all different kinds of lofty balconies and dark dungeons to dine and drink in and gardens to stroll in.

The Casbah or medina—or old city, as they call it—is twice the size of any other in Morocco and twice blessed with atmosphere. Deep in the Casbah of Fez one can wander into a doorway, be led through damp corridors of carpet and leather to the antique jewelry room, there to be offered a chair, a glass of hot mint tea, a plate of cakes—and a pipe. Two puffs and you buy the whole store.

Frankly, despite all of Claude's stories I didn't really know what to expect from His Majesty. And when the day came that I would be invited to accompany Claude inside the palace walls at Fez and there to stroll nine holes with him—as Trent Jones had done six times—I was a little nervous.

"I hope there's some atmosphere around," I said to Claude. "I mean, it would be kind of nifty to see a king play golf around some ruins or something."

Claude said, "How does twelve hundred years old grab you?"

Inside the burnt-orange walls of the palace at Fez there was, sure enough, a nine-hole golf course. It had grass that was green. It had smooth putting surfaces with pins. Rough. Water hazards. A couple of par-5s. And all around it were these 20- to 50-foot walls, looking as though they had always been there, as if Idriss II, or somebody, had known a long time before the Scots about the rut iron.

On days when Hassan plays golf, a lot of people turn up. Mostly, they are aides and servants and simply close friends. Claude, Jaidi and I got there a few minutes ahead of His Majesty, and I got to notice a great deal of hustling about by everyone. A couple of Harley-Davidson carts were driven out, one carrying three sets of clubs, all belonging to King Hassan, the other carrying refreshments.

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