In December I had the most amazing experience traveling to Morocco. Not only was I visiting Africa for the first time but I was bringing along my golf clubs to play in a very important tournament! Talk about a large mixture of emotions: nervous about being in Africa, anxious about playing in a big tournament, curious about how it would be in a predominantly Muslim country, excited to meet new people, sad to be missing out on all the pre-Christmas celebrations in Norway, and especially, feeling unsure about the outcome of the whole trip.

Overall, Morocco surprised me. I felt so safe, the food was delicious, the people were amazing and the golf courses were some of the best I have ever played. I spent one week in Casablanca and almost two weeks in Marrakech. The week was very exciting but nerve wracking too. I told myself that I had nothing to lose going into the event so why not just go have some fun. And fun is definitely what I had.

The first week was a struggle. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked, but it had been a while since I played in a tournament. You could say that I got the rust off of my game. The fairways were narrow and I was not hitting the ball perfectly straight off the tee so I was making myself work a little harder than necessary. But fortunately, I played well enough and qualified for the second week.

The second week was even more impressive. We played on two different courses which were both so much fun. One was wide open off the tee with sprawling fairways and no trees. The greens were the fastest I have ever come across, and I had to putt with a lot of caution. By the end of the round I was so mentally exhausted that I felt like I was hit by a bus. The other course was narrower and tree lined, but the greens were a lot less complicated. I loved how different these courses played. On one course you could “swing away” and try to really pummel the ball and the other course required a little more accuracy. The first course demanded respect on the greens and the second course wanted you to make it in the hole.

Over 5 rounds I was quite mentally exhausted. 90 holes is a lot of golf to play, not to mention the two or three practice rounds I completed prior to the tournament. I was very impressed with myself for holding it together. After the first two rounds I was positioned very well on the leader board and became excited. But you really need to keep it all in perspective. I was not even halfway done with the tournament after two rounds so I just needed to keep my head down and stay in the moment.

After it was all said and done I got to feel something that I have always fallen short of experiencing. I have played in a few tour schools prior to my trip to Morocco and none of them have ended well. I have missed getting my LPGA card by two strokes on two separate occasions. Imagine 90 holes of golf, about 360 strokes, and you come up two short.  Two short!! So this time not only did I get my card but I did it without a worry in the world on the very last hole. I made it by 11 strokes. My goal at the beginning of the week was to put myself in a position on the last hole so I could just enjoy it and not stress. And that is exactly what I did. I am so proud of my accomplishment, and I am so excited for the opportunity I have earned this year.

Morocco was good to me. I had an amazing time, met some incredible people and cannot wait to return to that country. So if anyone is thinking about taking a trip to northern Africa, I highly recommend you stop by in Marrakech, take a tour around the markets and try some real Moroccan couscous. You won’t be disappointed!

Until next time,
  Emily Talley
  Napa native, pro golfer, world traveler, Bandit fan