Tamarina opened for play at the end of 2006 and is proving to be a very popular golf course. Carved into the rugged savannah that lies between the mountain and the sea on the south-west coast of Mauritius, the course lies at the foot of Mount Rempart, which resembles a mini-Matterhorn and can be seen from almost every hole. With fairways framed by seas of native grasses, including purple pampas grass, lemongrass, red grass, citronelle and vetiver, the layout is spectacularly beautiful – never more so than at Tamarina’s signature 13th hole, a 176 metre par three that drops over 30 metres from tee to green.
With great views from the tee of Tamarin Bay and the River Rempart wrapping itself around the left-hand side of the green, plus deep bunkers left and back of the target, this is a great, photogenic short hole that is also a serious challenge.
However it’s just one of many tremendous holes at Tamarina that start with the 526 metre par five 3rd where two creeks cross the fairway, the first having to be carried with your tee shot whilst the second waits to catch the drive of the true long hitter (think John Daly long) or the second shots of mere mortal golfers. Having safely negotiated both creeks, the hole is still dangerous as the fairway then narrows significantly and two deep fairway bunkers, plus brutal rough, wait to catch any wild approach shots to the long, narrow green that has Mount Rempart as a backdrop.
The rough here is typical of most holes at Tamarina and, though the fairways are quite wide and inviting, miss them and you’re looking at a lost ball or, if you’re lucky enough to find it, then nothing more than a simple wedge back onto the fairway from the punishingly thick rough. Strategic use of sand and water and large, undulating greens add to the test.
The 5th, another par five of 510 metres, is also a tremendous hole, as are all the par fives at Tamarina. It’s one of several risk/reward holes created by Wright that test not only a golfer’s skill and judgement but also his true knowledge of his own ability, as they invariably involve long carries over disaster areas that will tempt the macho golfer but will bring catastrophe to the score cards of anyone coming up short.
At Tamarina’s 5th the risk/reward comes in the second shot for, having safely carried the Rempart River and its banks with your drive, you then face a choice of going for the green, which requires a carry of more than 200 metres over thick rough and three deep bunkers in front of the green, or taking the more conservative three shot route that requires hitting your second shot down to a generous fairway in a valley by the river and then your third shot back uphill to a green.
The challenge continues at Tamarina’s 6th – a par three of 182 metres that needs a bold long iron or five wood across a deep valley that holds the Rempart River to a well-bunkered green – and at the 7th, a 426 metre par four that is stroke index one on the scorecard, a ruggedly beautiful hole that plays straight back up to the Rempart Mountain with the Rempart River running all along the right-hand side of the fairway. This is a hole that will test the best, even on a windless day, and will take a precision long iron second to a small green if par is to be secured.
Tamarina’s risk/reward par fives return at the 11th, a 496 metre beauty that is aptly named ‘Snake Eyes’ on the scorecard. Standing on the tee, the reason for the hole’s name quickly becomes apparent as there is a choice of two paths for you to take with your tee shot. The shorter route and the only chance of reaching the green in two requires a drive that flies 242 metres in the air to carry a pair of deep bunkers (the Snake Eyes) down the right-hand side of the hole. Although that’s a long carry, standing on the tee, it looks oh-so tempting and it’s difficult to resist the challenge. Needless to say, this challenge has already wrecked many a scorecard and, unless you’re a really big hitter, you’d be well-advised to take the longer route down the left of the hole from where the 11th becomes a true dog-leg right three shotter that is still fraught with danger as the green is guarded by a lake on the left, a stream in front and some free-standing tall trees in front of the stream that all need to be safely negotiated before you have a chance at birdie or par.
The 483 metre 16th is the last of the par fives and also the last of the risk/reward holes that offers you the choice of going for the green with your second shot, requiring a faded fairway wood into the prevailing wind, or laying up down the left-hand side on to an island fairway between two streams, which then leaves you a wedge into a heavily bunkered green for your third shot.
These are just some of the holes that make Tamarina a great and challenging course: one that could easily host a major tournament some time in the future, either on the European, African or maybe even the Asian PGA tours.