US Virgin Islands Golf

By Jim & Barbara Nicol

This group of islands consists basically of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. It is 1,000 miles from Miami, a bit over 1,500 miles from New York, and 18 degrees north of the equator. Be aware: driving is on the left side and the roads are mountainous and extremely narrow.

The history of the area follows a familiar pattern. Discovered by Christopher Columbus, then becoming a virtual shopping mall for privateers and pirates, and later coming under the influence of Denmark, the islands were finally purchased by the United States in 1917.

St. Thomas and St. Croix have golf courses; St. John does not. The Mahogany Run Golf course is probably as well known as any in the world. George and Tom Fazio used one of the most beautiful locations in the Caribbean for this course. The valleys, hills and rugged coastline of St. Thomas turn this into one of the most spectacular golf layouts you may ever find. Playing to a modest yardage of 6,022/5,609/4,873, it pars at 70. The yardage is the only "modest" part of this course. Cut from solid forest, running in some cases beside steep drop-offs to the sea, it is as tight, treelined and as difficult as you could conjure up in your wildest dreams. There is no room for error. Your shot is either straight or you're dead. The course is extremely well-trapped, and the sand bunkers can, on occasion, save you from sheer disaster. As a resting place for your ball, they are infinitely preferred over the water hazards that influence play on 10 holes. The shifting, buffeting and almost constant wind is also very much a factor.

The course offers any golfer a "Devil's Triangle Award" - provided they complete play on holes 13 through 15 without incurring a penalty stroke. I do not think that is achievable by a mortal, much less the average hacker. There is a regularly scheduled beverage cart on the course. After you have played the "triangle" it is often referred to as the "survival wagon."

Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort are recommended places to stay on St. Thomas. Both are excellent destination - resorts and have a reciprocal arrangement with the course.