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 this awhile back with rental clubs that were not very good. So these clubs made a hard course even more difficult. The course seems to have pine trees (one local called them olive trees, another said they were cork), everywhere including in some of the fairways. It is a weird course due to all of the trees, variation in terrain, and some odd features. I felt the architect, Ron Fream, put every thing he could think of on this course. Several times you are standing on the tee wondering which direction to hit the tee shot and wondering whether the line you chose would be kind to you upon finding your ball.
Water comes into play on three holes, the third, the eighth, and the finishing hole.
This undulating course will all those trees also offers a few blind holes on the rolling, hilly fairways. It has a fair number of bunkers which protect fast greens, of which many have ridges or plateaus to them. As I said, Mr. Fream seemed to include everything in this course.
The holes I would highlight are:
The third hole has multiple tees so pick the one that suits you. It is a blind tee shot on this dogleg right, protected my a line of trees which must be cleared on the tee shot. The green is protected by a lateral water hazard on the right and a bunker behind to catch a shot that is too long. It is sort of a flaky hole.
The sixth hole, a mid length par three requires you to carry a deep ravine but you can't go long due to out of bounds behind the green.
The eighth hole is a sharp dogleg right where one must avoid the pond on the tee shot and a somewhat hidden pond behind the green.
The seventeenth is a longer par five with a tee shot to a narrow fairway. The dogleg left's landing area is hidden by trees. The second shot is another dogleg hidden by more trees. It is only on the third shot that I saw the green, which is very well bunkered. It is a weird hole, but once you know it, it can be played.
The finishing hole is a long par 4 and a difficult finish to this hard golf course. A long drive is required to clear the pond to get to the fairway and the green is protected by another pond and good bunkering. It is a tough finishing hole.
If you are on holiday it is worthwhile to have a round of golf here. I did not care for the course due to some of the blind shots, the number of trees, and perhaps I was a bit influenced by the rental clubs I was given.
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.