Unveiled in 2007, the course at Tamarina Golf, Spa & Beach Club was fashioned on the southwest savannah coast of Mauritius, inside the first residential golf estate to open on the island. Thankfully, even though many of the holes are laid out around properties, the houses are positioned a discreet distance from the fairways, allowing golfers to proceed round the course unhindered.
The course was constructed to USGA specification on a 107-acre site and it occupies a beautiful spot next to where the Rempart River reaches the Indian Ocean. The surrounding mountain range – which includes the three jagged peaks of Trois Mamelles – forms a very impressive backdrop to the golfing action.
Highlight holes at Tamarina include a couple of memorable par fives: On the front nine, the 5th (“Yemen”) calls for a demanding tee shot over the River Rempart and on the back nine, the risk/reward 11th (“Snake Eyes”) invites a shorter route over two bunkers in order to allow a simpler approach to the pin.
We received the following comments from golf course architect Rodney Wright:
"Tamarina was developed by Medine Sugar Estate, a leading diversified agri-businesses in Mauritius and it was the first Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) to be built in Mauritius. IRS projects provide a legal vehicle designed to allow foreigners to purchase and own property in Mauritius.
The course is the heart of a residential/golf/beach resort that lies between Mauritius’s iconic Mt. Rempart and Tamarin Bay, the famous surfing destination. The setting is dramatic, having the look and feel of an African bushveld and Tamarina gets its name from the multitude of Tamarind trees growing throughout this part of the island.
The design brief was to create a true championship golf course that could also be enjoyed by all levels of players and at 7,524 yards from the tips, the challenge is obvious. The secrets to accomplishing the enjoyment part are fairness, variety, the abundance of tee positions and memorability.
We were also to construct the best greens in Mauritius and these were built to the latest USGA recommendations, pioneering the use of “Champion” ultra-dwarf Bermuda grass putting surfaces.
Any golf course designer worth his salt will incorporate the natural features of a site into the golf design and at Tamarina, the site defined the course design! Aside from the large stands of mature trees, three predominant natural features dictated the course design:
Firstly, there’s Mount Rempart, an omnipresent landmark that dominates the landscape and is visible from practically everywhere, providing an unforgettable backdrop for much of the golf course, particularly on holes 3, 4, 6 and 7.
Secondly, the River Rempart cuts a dramatic deep gorge through the property and it cried out to be utilized as a golf course feature! Hole 5, 6 and 18 play across, alongside and up to the river gorge, respectively.
Thirdly, the Barachoise Estuary forms the stunning setting for the “signature” Par three hole 13, which features a twenty-five metre elevation drop from tee to green.The Tamarina course was a joy to design but the true beauty of Tamarina is the place itself. Enjoying a round of golf there is only part of the experience. From a golf course architect’s perspective, if I’ve captured the character of this unique setting within the golf course design, I’ve done my job."
I played Tamarina in July 2017 as I was staying in a hotel relatively nearby. It is a lovely course, and the setting is very striking, what with the river and the estuary and Mount Rempart. The mountain forms the backdrop to a number of holes – approaching the 3rd, you get the full impact of the mountain lying at the end of the fairway, almost, and it is watching over you on numerous other holes too.
The course is set out to be playable by good golfers as well as club hackers like me and my playing partner, a very charming Frenchman who the club had arranged for me to go out with. I play off 19 and he played off 21, and teeing off on the middle (members’) tees – there are five tees, ranging from pro to ladies – we weren’t overawed or overstretched, though there are a few longish holes if you are not a big hitter.
The signature hole, the par three 13th with its long drop to a green by the river estuary, is a stunner. The mountain stands ahead of you, the river to the left and a long snaking bunker waits for errant shots along the front and left of the green.
The greens were in excellent condition – not fast, but it had been raining – and the fairways were beautifully kept. There is a good driving range, and a pleasant club house with a rather attractive terrace. And, as usual in Mauritius, the staff are super-helpful, the buggy comes around with cold drinks just when you need one, and the clubs for hire were a nice set of nearly new Callaways. You could walk this course, by the way, but they rather recommend taking a buggy.
So, why not a top score? Well, the other course I have played in Mauritius is the Heritage course which ranks right up at the top of the best courses I have ever played, and the Tamarina course, though lovely, just isn’t as good – not as memorable, not as interesting, not even as challenging.
So certainly play Tamarina if you are in Mauritius – I don’t think you’ll regret it. But if you only have time for one round while you are there, I’d go for the Heritage every time and twice on Sundays.