Tunisia – where good golf’s a lot closer than you might think

18 August 2022 Respond to this article

Tunisia – where good golf’s a lot closer than you might think

We return to Africa for our latest resort article. Situated between Algeria and Libya on the north coast of the continent, Tunisia offers golf facilities of a high standard, with layouts strung out between the capital city of Tunis in the north and the island of Djerba in the south.

Golf in the country dates back to the original course at Golf de Carthage in La Soukra which was founded almost a hundred years ago but it wasn’t until the government decided to embark on a golf course construction plan in the late 1970s that the sport’s profile was raised, primarily as a means of attracting visiting tourists.

Golfplan’s Ron Fream was the architect behind many of these new build projects and most of the courses featured below were designed by him. Unfortunately, the country doesn’t always market golf as well as it might which is a real shame as we know from first-hand experience just how good the product is.

Most European tourists to the country come from France and Germany (Paris is a 2-hour flight away from Tunis and Munich is only 2.5 hours) but more than a quarter of a million passengers also fly annually from the UK to the capital or one of the coastal cities, with journey times from London under three hours.

The good golf that's in Tunisia is really a lot closer than you might think…

Residence Tunis

Residence Tunis

The first resort we’re profiling is the Residence Tunis in the upmarket seaside town of Gammarth which includes a 161-bedroom (and 9 suites) hotel with spa and wellness centre incorporating indoor and outdoor pools and a sauna. The hotel’s El Dar restaurant offers an authentic taste of Tunisia while L’Olivier serves up a wider range of Mediterranean cuisine.

The course is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design from 2008 – the only new golfing layout to appear in Tunisia in the new millennium – and its links-style holes are set out as returning nines, with the outward half routed round a residential development and the inward half occupying open ground next to a salt lake that connects to the Mediterranean.

Yasmine Valley

Yasmine Valley

An hour’s drive south of Tunis lies the seaside tourist destination of Hammamet and for golfers who choose to bin the beach in favour of the fairways there are three 18-hole layouts located on either side of the A-1 motorway. The first of these is Yasmine Valley which has the Steigenberger Marhaba Palace and TUI BLUE Oceana Suites as two of its partner hotels.

The golf course is laid out around a large practice area and short Academy setup close to the clubhouse. Plans for another 9-hole circuit from Nicklaus Design have been in place for ages but those holes remain on the drawing board. For now, visiting golfers enjoy an 18-hole “thrilling roller coaster ride that twists and turns” across a surprisingly hilly property.

Citrus

Citrus Golf Club

On the other side of the main road sits the La Forêt and Les Oliviers 18-hole courses at Citrus Golf Club. Two of the accommodation providers most closely associated with the club are the 370-bedroomed 4-star SENTIDO Phenicia and 5-star The Sindbad (offering 145 rooms and 9 suites) and residents of these nearby hotels are afforded discounted green fees.

Extending to 200 acres of maintained grass, the two 18-hole courses at Citrus celebrate thirty years of operation this year and they’re complemented by a 9-hole executive short course which – along with an extensive practice area – makes this the best training centre in the country. And, after practice or play, restaurant bar Tangerine is the perfect place to relax overlooking the complex.

El Kantaoui

El Kantoui

Another hour-long drive on the main drag south brings us to the coastal tourist centre of Port El Kantaoui near Sousse, where El Kantoui Golf was Tunisia’s first modern golf facility back in the 1970s. John Harris, Peter Thomson, Mike Wolveridge and Ron Fream were all involved in the initial venture to build an 18-hole which hosted the Tunisian Open in 1982, the European Tour’s first ever event outside Europe.

A decade later, when another eighteen holes were added, the original layout was called the Sea and the newer course named Panorama. The complex is surrounded by a number of hotels that collaborate with the golf club, including the Iberostar Diar El Andalous (379 guest rooms), the Seabel Alhambra (225 guest rooms), and the 322-bedroomed Marhaba Palace.

Flamingo

Flamingo

The Monastir peninsula is situated 25 kilometres south of Sousse, with the Flamingo Golf Course located on the outskirts of the town. Among the golf facility’s preferred partner hotels, there’s the 5-star Royal Thalassa (250 rooms & 7 suites) on the other side of the airport and the 4-star El Mouradi Skanes (505 rooms) situated a little bit closer to Sousse.

The Flamingo layout is set out across a dominating hill which overlooks the entire Monastir estuary, with hundreds of ancient olive trees giving definition to the holes. Water comes into play at a couple of holes and a number of fairways cross or skirt natural ravines on a very natural landscape that was largely preserved during course construction.

Djerba

Djerba

Our look at resort golf in Tunisia ends almost 400 kilometres south of Monastir on the island of Djerba, which is accessed by a short ferry crossing or via an old Roman causeway. Of course, most tourists will fly directly here to Djerba-Zarzis International airport near the main town of Houmt Souk.

The 27-hole complex at Djerba Golf Club is a mid-1990s Martin Hawtree design located close to the dozens of hotels that are strung out along the northeast coastline of the island. The nearest hotels to the course include the 4-star Djerba Golf Resort & Spa (with 275 rooms and suites) and the 5-star Yadis Djerba Golf Thalasso and Spa (with 332 rooms).

Jim McCann

Editor

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