LET Executive Director Alexandra Armas signs the agreement

The Ladies European Tour (LET) and Hassan Trophy Society today announced that they have signed a three year agreement to add the Princess Lalla Meryem Cup to the LET schedule.

The event, which was founded in 1993 under the patronage of Her Royal Highness the Princess Lalla Meryem, will be upgraded to a full field Ladies European Tour event featuring 126 players and with a prize fund of €275,000.

In order to give the Lalla Meryem Cup the opportunity to be more exposed, the tournament will be staged at Royal Golf Mohammedia in Morocco, from 18-20th March 2010. And to continue the tradition of the Hassan II Trophy, both events will be played the same week with the special feature of a combined prize giving ceremony presided by His Royal Highness the Prince Moulay Rachid for ladies and men.

This event represents a unique format throughout the world: two professional tournaments organised for same week, in the same place.

“We are extremely excited to be returning to Morocco, a beautiful country with tremendous golf facilities,” said Alexandra Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour. “I am positive that our players will love the fabulous golf course and the first class hospitality that Morocco has to offer. I am also certain that the members will put on a wonderful performance for all golf fans.”

The Princess Lalla Meryem Cup has traditionally been played on a smaller scale alongside the prestigious Hassan II Golf Trophy, created by His Majesty Late King Hassan II, at Royal Golf Dar es Salam, with a field of approximately 12 players.

Over the last 15 years it has attracted some of the leading names in women’s golf, such as Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson.

Golf was first introduced to Morocco at the beginning of the 20th century and the country has become an international meeting point for professionals and amateurs alike. The Hassan II Golf Trophy was created by His Majesty Late King Hassan II and the tradition has been continued by the Royal Family.

His Royal Highness the Prince Moulay Rachid, commented: “Hassan II Golf Trophy remains at the summit of international golf events, and this new partnership will maintain the past standards of sporting perfection, whilst projecting a prestigious image of Morocco around the world and amongst golf professionals.”

A five year policy named “Plan Azur” has been put into operation by the Moroccan National Tourist Office, with the aim of increasing the number of golf courses and golfers in Morocco. New resorts are being developed across the country to complement the already immensely popular destinations of Marrakech and Agadir.

One such destination is Saïdia on the Mediterranean coast, near Oujda. There are four other major new resorts on the Atlantic coast, namely Lixus, near Larache, which features two 18-hole golf courses, El Jadida and Taghazout, north of Agadir, which both features three golf courses, each with 18 holes.

The new golf courses opening in 2009 include the Jack Nicklaus designed Samanah Country Club in Marrakech and the Gary Player designed Mogador Golf Club in Essaouira and Mazagan Golf Club in El Jadida. The year 2010 will see the opening of 13 new 18-hole golf courses, with the prospect of attracting 175,000 golfers to Morocco per year.

The last time an official Ladies European Tour event was held in Morocco was in 2000, when Australian Alison Munt won the Marrakech Palmeraie Open at Palmeraie Golf Palace. England’s Trish Johnson was the 1999 event champion, while Sophie Gustafson won the tournament the previous year.

Past winners of the Princess Lalla Meryem Cup:

1993 Marie-Laure de Lorenzi (FRA)
1994 Gillian Stewart (ENG)
1995 Amaia Arruti (ESP)
1996 Lora Fairclough (ENG)
1997 Diane Barnard (ENG)
1998 Sophie Gustafson (SWE)
1999 Lora Fairclough (ENG)
2000 Elisabeth Esterl (GER)
2001 Marine Monnet (FRA)
2002 Johanna Head (ENG)
2003 Johanna Head (ENG)
2005 Ana Belen Sanchez (ESP)
2006 Sophie Sandolo (ITA)
2007 Gwladys Nocera (FRA)
2008 Laura Davies (ENG)