The 19th hole is a little different in Tunisia.
Swap a beer or wine for mint tea and a “hookah” (arab smoking pipe) and you have a relaxing end to a day’s golf.
This North African country is a great winter golf destination offering year round warm weather and a friendly welcome.
Five star luxury at four star prices
Golf in sight of camels and flamingo’s
Haggling in the Souk
Hubbly Bubbly at the 19th hole
Tunisia? North Africa? Golf?
An unusual combination at first glance, but, dig a little deeper and you’ll find Tunisia has everything you need for a golf break in the sun.
This North African country, sandwiched between Algeria and Libya, is not among the world’s best known golf destinations but it boasts 12 courses and is reachable within a 3 hour flight from mainland Europe.
Tunisia has always been popular for mainstream tourism.
Camel Rides and Souks
The camel-rides, souks, sandy beaches and year-round sunshine have always attracted the British, Scandinavians, Germans and Italians.
In recent times, it’s golf the Tunisian Tourism authorities have been keen to promote.
For golfers living in northern Europe, Tunisia is the ideal place for a winter golf break.
Playing golf amongst the camels and overlooking clear blue ocean provides a break from cold, windy and wet conditions or even courses closed because of snow.
The popular protests and social uprisings of 2011 are fresh in the country’s memory and Global Golfer would advise anyone considering a golf break in North Africa to check with the foreign office of their home government for advice on whether it is safe to travel.
Before the uprisings we found playing golf in Tunisia to be as safe as it is teeing up on Portugal’s Algarve.
French is a second language behind Arabic in Tunisia, for reasons colonial and historic, but English is widely spoken.
Among the minarets and Mosques of Tunisia, alcohol flows freely and people live in progressive tolerance, more European democracy than African dictatorship.
There are few differences between our society and theirs, bar the dinar – a closed currency which you can’t remove from the country – and their great penchant for haggling.
North Africa’s Golf Coast
Most of Tunisia’s 12 golf courses are situated by the Mediterranean in the popular Tourist resorts of Port El Kantaoui, Monastir and Hammamet.
You’re likely to fly into Tunis-Carthage Airport, and so if you’re spending a day or two in the Capital Tunis, why not visit the country’s oldest golf course, Golf de Carthage, at La Soukra.
Built in 1927, this is one of Africa’s oldest courses.
Today, it’s a little scruffy but still a charming place to enjoy a morning round.
The fairways wind between 100-year-old eucalyptus tree’s and olive groves and there is plenty of tree trouble.
A surprising feature of the club is that at night, the clubhouse bar doubles as a disco, complete with DJ and turntables playing the European dance music.
Port El Kantaoui – Rolls Royce of golf in Tunisia
The two courses at Port El Kantaoui are more likely to attract the serious golfer.
Six miles north of Sousse, the country’s third largest city and a favourite of the British, Port El Kantaoui was built in 1979 and soon after saw the development of two 18-hole courses under American architect Ronald Fream.
The Panorama course is regarded as its Championship course while the Sea Course is a gentler alternative.
The European Tour used to make a regular stop in Tunisia with El Kantaoui as the preferred venue.
The club employs a rotation policy, allowing higher and lower handicaps to play a different course each day, speeding up play and sharing the quality holes fairly.
The Panorama is called that for a good reason.
It has the better views, like that from the elevated tee at the 555m 18th hole, down towards the Meditteranean Sea, which could distract you from the drive over the Olive trees.
At Palm Links at Monastir, some 90-minutes from Hammamet, you’ll find Tunisia’s answer to links golf.
Close to Sousse, this reclaimed marshland is now a likeable quirky course set next to a racetrack.
Golf among wild Flamingo’s
Among its attractions are wild mounding, humps, bumps and a colony of wild flamingo’s, not to forget its signature hole, the par-four 14th played alongside the ocean and guarded by waste bunkers.
The best golf though, is to be found at Golf Citrus at Hammamet, around an hour from Tunis.
This 36-hole golf complex was superbly run and its marshals had golfers hitting tee-times the way soldiers about turn on the drill square.
Its two courses, Les Oliviers and La Foret, are tough by any standards.
Next door to Citrus Golf is the Yasmine Golf Course, a gentler proposition with twin lakes and frequently tiered greens.
The Marshal here arrived in a buggy at the 9th and presented my playing partner and I with a flask of English Breakfast tea, and a selection of arab cakes, a demonstration of hospitality not unusual at Tunisia’s golf courses.
The warm welcome and hospitality makes up for the fact that the courses are not as well conditioned as those in Portugal or Spain.
Hubbly Bubbly at the 19th hole
As the guests of an Arab host, they are extremely keen to ensure you have a pleasant stay in Tunisia.
No matter how you’ve played, there’ll always be mint tea and the “Arab Hooka,” (smoking pipe) to wile away the hours at the 19th.
WHERE TO PLAY
Citrus Golf Club
Yasmine Golf Club
Monastir Palm Links
Golf El Kantaoui
Golf de Carthage
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Karthago El Ksar
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Tunisia enjoys year round sunshine, with the lowest average temperature of 12 degrees C from December to March and reaching 27 degrees C in July and August.
Tunisian Dinar (TD)
source : http://www.globalgolfermag.com/golfinafrica/africas-algarve/