Situated on the southeastern side of the Cap Bon peninsula, Hammamet was the first Tunisian tourist destination established by the government in its plan to attract overseas visitors. Golfers visiting this coastal resort are well catered for with 54 holes in play at two locations.
Each of the three Hammamet layouts were designed by American Ron Fream – the most prolific course architect in Tunisia since the 1970s – and there are 18 holes on site at Yasmine, with two courses – Les Oliviers and La Forêt – laid out here at the Citrus golf complex.
Les Oliviers is quite a forgiving track, characterised by wide fairways that allow golfers to open their shoulders on the tee at most of the holes. La Forêt, on the other hand, is more strategic and demanding with many of the fairways doglegging through pine groves laid out on hilly terrain.
A feature hole on the outward half is the par three 6th; an exciting short hole that requires a do-or-die tee shot across a gully to a plateau green on the other side. On the back nine, the signature hole at the par five 12th sweeps majestically downhill to a green surrounded on three sides by cactus-laden waste areas.The Citrus facility, which also boasts a 9-hole compact course for beginners, is owned by several local hotels that offer preferential green fee rates to residents.
I played the excellent Yasmine Valley layout the day before I tackled the 18 holes at La Forêt so this course had quite a lot to live up to. Happily, it delivered comfortably, even though a meaty slope rating of 143 from the back markers marks it out as something of a tough test.
The two short holes on the front nine are very good; the 4th plays slightly uphill to a putting surface which slopes sharply from back to front whilst the green of the 6th sits on the other side of a very intimidating ravine that’s covered in dense foliage. The par four 8th is another scary hole where the approach has to carry across a large irrigation pond to the front and right of the green.
Both par threes on the back nine at 11 and 14 were a bit of a letdown but the slight tinge of disappointment at these short holes was more than made up for by a pair of wonderful par fives at 12 and 17; the former plunging down to a green circled by large cactus plants, the latter dropping through trees into a tight playing corridor to the green.
The water carry from the elevated tee on the 18th was a thrilling way to end the round and I walked off the home green moments later slightly battered with a very modest stableford points score but happy nonetheless to have added another excellent Ron Fream design to my list of Tunisian courses that I’ve now played.