Top 10 Golf Courses of Egypt and Tunisia 2017
We revise our course rankings for the North African countries of Egypt and Tunisia
The press headlines for this country have not been very encouraging for visitors in recent months: “Egypt’s tourism industry is still reeling” and “Tourism awaiting recovery after a two-year decline” were just two of the articles to appear in the online versions of The Guardian and the Daily News Egypt newspapers.
Political instability, security concerns and a couple of highly suspicious airline crashes have all been major factors in keeping people away and the withdrawal of Russian, German and British tour operators from the two main Red Sea resorts resulted in visitor numbers falling dramatically last year.
People can still get to Sharm El-Sheik and Hurghada if they really want to by flying via Cairo, where air travel has continued uninterrupted, and the national carrier Egyptair is now flying a weekly service direct to Luxor from Heathrow airport, proving that tourism from the UK is still alive, even with drastically reduced numbers.
Thankfully, golf sector developments continue unabated. We’re aware of Tim Lobb’s New Giza project to the west of the capital in the satellite city of 6th October and this is due to open later this year. John Sanford has also told us his 18-hole layout at the new Hacienda Bay resort near El Alamein on the Mediterranean coast will be launched at the end of 2018.
There’s room for optimism then, even if it may take a little time for visitor numbers to reach the level they were at before the Arab Spring which swept through the region in early 2011. We know of only one golfing casualty since then – Taba Heights, near the border with Israel – so hopefully its closure marks the low point of a difficult period, with tourism now set to emerge stronger than ever before.
And so to our newly revised Top 10 chart for Egypt, where Greg Norman’s first North African design at the Allegria retains its position at the top of the listings. It was described by one reviewer recently as “an amazing facility (which) has raised the bar for golf in Egypt and transformed it from a round of golf to a real experience” and we think it will take something rather special to knock it off the top spot.
There’s little movement either up or down in the remaining chart positions, with the new entry of Palm Hills (A & C) at number 8 the only real item of note. A collaboration between John Sanford and Nicklaus Design, this two-year-old 27-hole design is set out on a 275-acre site within a large commercial and residential development, less than half an hour’s drive from the Great Pyramid of Giza.
|2||Katameya Dunes (Lakes)||No change|
|3||Cascades at Soma Bay||Up 1|
|4||Katameya Heights||Up 2|
|5||Mirage City||No change|
|6||Sokhna (B & C)||Up 2|
|8||Palm Hills (A & C)||New entry|
|9||Madinat Makadi||Up 1|
|10||Stella Di Mare||Down 1|
To view further details of our newly revised Egypt Top 10 rankings click the link.
Like Egypt, Tunisian tourism has suffered very badly from security issues within the country. “After Islamist Attacks, Tunisia’s Tourism Struggles” was a recent headline on the Reuters website, referring to what’s happened since the deadly shooting of foreign visitors in March 2015 at the Bardo national museum in Tunis and on the beach at Sousse three months later.
Tour operators have since suspended charter flights and cruise operators have stopped sailing into Tunisian ports, causing European visitor numbers to plummet more than 50%. The hotel where the second deadly incident took place is one of more than two hundred that remain closed, which is a real blow to the local economy and the many thousands of jobs that rely on tourism.
Because nearly all of the Sousse victims were British citizens, arrivals from the UK are a tiny fraction of what they were two years ago. Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office warns against all but essential travel to Tunisia – a state of emergency is still in place within the country – and this edict is enough to deter even independent travellers who might otherwise choose to take a scheduled flight to Tunis or go via one of the French low-cost carriers that still fly into Hammamet, Monastir and Djerba.
It’s a very sad and sorry state of affairs because there’s so much so see and do in a very hospitable country that’s renowned for welcoming visitors. The golf product is also of a very high standard – most of the courses (eight of the top ten, in fact) were designed by the respected American architect Ron Fream when he worked with Golfplan during the late 1980s and early 1990s – as we discovered on a Press Trip to Tunisia four years ago.
Back to today though and our newly refreshed Top 10 chart for Tunisia sees Yasmine Valley in Hammamet hold onto the top spot. The course has been described as “a thrilling rollercoaster ride that twists and turns, rises and falls every inch of the way from the opening tee shot to the final putt… a very good course that will surprise and entertain in equal measure” and we think it’s well worth its status as our national number one.
There’s not too much happening with the other chart positions but mention must be made of Flamingo Monastir, which re-enters our Top 10 at number 5, having dropped out of the listings when both the course and the clubhouse were closed for refurbishment a couple of years ago. It’s another Ron Fream layout, featuring a tricky short par four (called “Bunkers”) at the 275-metre 16th where, as its name suggests, four strategically-positioned sand traps lie in wait for big hitters who try to go for the green with their tee shot.
|1||Yasmine Valley||No change|
|2||Citrus (La Foret)||No change|
|4||El Kantaoui (Panorama)||Up 1|
|5||Flamingo Monastir||New entry|
|6||Citrus (Les Oliviers)||No change|
|7||Residence Tunis||Down 4|
|8||El Kantaoui (Sea)||No change|
|10||Oasis Tozeur||Down 3|
To view further details of the newly updated Tunisia Top 10 rankings click the link.
If you’d like to comment on either of these modified African charts then you can contact us via the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page. We encourage feedback – good and bad – so please feel free to let us know what your thoughts are.