Course Reviews: Temenos Golf Course, Anguilla, BWI

Looking back the 18th hole with the double green of the 2nd and 10th holes in the background.

Picture a green golf oasis with bold white bunkering and a backdrop of the Caribbean with salt air breezes and distant mountains beyond.  Add in charmingly friendly folks, and you will discover as I have – the tiny island nation of Anguilla in the British Virgin Islands.  The Greg Norman-designed Temenos Golf Course costing $50 million forms the golfing attraction of what is even a bigger attraction, Anguilla.  If you are yearning for peaceful solitude for either romance or quiet relaxation, this island is a real find!

Anguilla is only sixteen miles long and barely three miles at its widest point, and with less than 12,000 inhabitants, and one golf course hardly qualifies as a golfing destination.  That said, here is a place all us golfers will want to play.  It is always a delight to find a genuinely good golf course in an unlikely place, and Temenos fits that description.

The landscape is basically flat and since the rainfall is low, vegetation is mainly small trees and brush.  Yes, water, wind, and sand forms the challenge here at Temenos that ranks with the best golf courses in the Caribbean.  As you stand on the first tee box and gaze down the ample fairway that gently descends forty feet on this 390-yard opener with the mountains of nearby St. Maarten across the expanse of the blue Caribbean, you know you should relax and enjoy this special experience.

Designer Greg Norman who feels that this is one of his better designs has fashioned a layout that is very playable.  The novice has very few forced carries while the more advanced player playing from the tips at over 7,000 yards will find that, apart from the par-fives, birdies can be a challenge.  While Norman has offered wide expansive fairways and open avenues into the interesting green sites, there is penal bunkering and some tricky greens to defend par.

Temenos is designed to be played in the wind with wide fairways.  That said, Norman has many false fronts and greens that spill off into collection areas so scoring is more challenging that would appear at first glance.  Miss your shots to the wrong side or be wild off the tee and you invite a bad score.  Water is featured on 13 holes and stretching to more than 7,000 yards, most players would be advised to play a shorter tee.

There are a number of memorable holes and the first is a great way to start your round.  Dropping down toward the green, it is the epitome of a great starting hole, visually engaging, but not too tough.  The game is on at the 190-yard second as you hit right toward the ocean just beyond the green.  This hole incidentally shares a double-green with the par-five tenth, another of the more memorable holes.  If I had to pick a favorite, there are several that would come to mind.  The course finishes with a crescendo with water coming into play on the last three, but it was the little, drivable 327-yard 7th that really attracted my attention.  There are some huge bunkers, but it is particularly the deep cavernous one fronting the middle of the shallow plateau putting surface that got my attention.  Playing downwind, it is exquisitely tantalizing, but even a par is no guarantee here.  Reportedly former President Bill Clinton drove the green on a recent visit and then sunk his putt for an eagle-two!

While the golf course closed temporarily, it has reopened under the loving care of Superintendent Erin Stevens, who has studied and worked with some of the top maintenance experts in America.  He has brought that expertise to return the golf course to the good conditions that any American golf would delight in playing.  When you add the friendly expertise of Director of Golf Paul Veneziano the facility has a winning combination.  A modern clubhouse, spacious practice range with a short-game facility, modern golf carts and rental clubs combined with friendly service all assure you’ll enjoy your round.  Golf and other fees are rather expensive in Anguilla as a round will cost $230 before 2 p.m. and $130 afterward.

Fagan Rating – B. Temenos is well above an average golf course and is among the better ones in the Caribbean despite its relatively flat terrain.  While it does not merit a special trip, one would be remiss not to play it while visiting.  It may be overpriced at $230 compared to its American counterparts, but the golf experience will nonetheless delight.

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