6,375 yards, 125 slope from the Blues
Course: Among the 422 courses such as Raven’s Claw and Bella Vista is Turtle Creek, a farm land course (since it was literally a farm converted into a course). The long-time owners of the property, the Waltz family, originally opened a par 3 and miniature golf course adjacent to their cattle farm. Eventually, they made plans for an eighteen hole course, which consisted of designs starting in the 1980’s and eventually building the course, opening in 1997. Ed Beidel completed the design of the course started by Hassenplug Associates. Beidel has some what of a local presence, as he was also involved with the design of Five Ponds and Highlands of Donegal. The mini golf golf course and par 3 are still there, as well as a driving range that can be reached by golf cart.
The Turtle has a good reputation locally and a lot of guys love playing here. It has been a few years since the last time I played TC, mainly because I enjoyed a few other places a lot more and couldn’t justify the green fee I faced even when I was considering playing here. I never really shared the enthusiasm that a lot of others had for the course. It wasn’t that I disliked it; it just felt like to me the course was trying to take on too many personalities. Was it links style? Parkland? Target golf? I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I finally got back to the Turtle recently and realized that the answer is, all of the above. The course gives you a little bit of everything even if there’s no defined theme throughout. I also realized what makes this place so popular. It’s just a fun course to play where most everyone can have a good time without being punished too much. For those that play a couple times a month or season, isn’t it better to play some where like this instead of getting murdered at the more difficult courses? For many, the answer is yes. Although it’s a fine art for a course that’s more playable to also remain interesting and put up a little bit of a fight, Turtle Creek certainly achieves that balance. Add in the fact that I believe green fees are a little lower than a few years ago, and this place has a pretty big local following.
The First is a 373 yard par 4. The tee shot is a forced carry over a ravine to a fairway that’s uphill to the green. The green has some pretty decent undulation and there are some mounds around the green to deflect errant approach shots.
The Second is a 504 yard par 5. It’s straightaway with bunkers and mounds scattered along each side to challenge any mis hit shots. The green is fairly large as well. Definitely a good hole for a birdie.
The Third is the first and shortest par 3 at 136 yards. There’s water to the left of the green and bunkers/mounds/rough on the right. Hitting on the green or short are the only safe options here. It’s a good starting one shotter and a nice chance at birdie.
The Fourth is a 353 yard par 4. The fairway is generous for the tee shot, but things tighten up near the green and sunken bunkers surrounding the green except the front.
The Fifth parallels the Fourth and goes back the opposite direction as a 402 par 4. The hole dog legs to the left a little to a diagonal green protected by bunkers on the left and front right. Just like the Fourth, your approach shot must be pretty good or you’ll likely be dealing with a tough up and down out of rough along with some tricky side hill lies due to the mounds surrounding most of the greens.
The Sixth is a 426 yard par 4. Some how, it’s the number one handicapped hole, but it’s tough for me to agree. The tee shot is blind, as there’s a ridge where the fairway descends downhill, so you can’t see where your tee shot goes. Just hit it straight. There are bunkers to the sides of the ridge to collect errant tee shots. The green is fairly wide, but there are large bunkers on either side.
At this point in the round, I was playing pretty well. I was driving it great, which was setting me up for some nice approach shots, which led to a lot of birdie putts. There wasn’t much strategy required, but I was having fun and enjoying myself. It was interesting comparing my shots to the last time I was here a few years ago, no more so than the Seventh and Eighth. When I last played here, I played those holes terribly. I remember thinking that I should be killing them because they fit my eye, ball flight and favorite distances, so I was glad to come back and see if there was any improvement. There was, as I was able to manage pars on both. A vindication, or avenging, of sorts.
The Seventh is a 349 par 4 that’s pretty much straight away. There’s a bunker on the right of the fairway that comes in play from the tee and the green is wide but shallow. The bunkers are pretty well placed on this hole, as I saw a lot of shots from my foursome from them.
The Eighth is my favorite hole of the front nine, as a 516 yard par 5. The tee shot is over a ravine to a fairway that runs right almost perpendicularly to the tee box, then climbs uphill and left to the green. Water runs along the front left of the green and left of the fairway as well. The fairway is also canted towards the right, so a draw works much better here to get to the green. It’s a good hole and I just wish there were more like this here.
The Ninth is a 191 par 3. There’s water on the left, but it only comes into play if you really mis hit. Otherwise, the hole goads you into hitting right away from the trouble to the front of the green, but most pin positions are further to the left, challenging you to carry trouble to get closer to the pin.
The front nine has some fun holes, but also a few that felt on the bland side. The par 3’s were good and there was variety on club selection, both of which usually make for an enjoyable round. Ranking them, I’d go 8, 1, 6, 3, 9, 7, 2, 4, 5.
You’re back at the clubhouse for the turn and they have a nice outdoor bar that sells food and drinks. Once you’re all stocked up, the Tenth is the shortest par 4 at 293 yards. It’s a severe dog leg right, where a mid iron is best off the tee to get around the turn and get a look at the green. If you have a power fade, you could likely reach the green, but you’ll have to get the ball flight pretty accurate since there’s very little room to the right of the green.
The Eleventh is a 178 yard par 3. The green is elevated and there is water to the right of the hole. The green runs from left to right and is fairly large. Honestly, this could be mistaken for a reverse Redan hole. It would have to be longer and the green would have to be tightened up though. It can be considered a “reverse Redan lite” hole.
The Twelfth is a 325 yard par 4. This is probably the most narrow fairway on the course and it’s very much like the Tenth, as it dog legs hard to the left, making driver too much unless you have a real nice draw. The green is some what elevated and is protected by a deep bunker on the left front. Going up the right side is probably best.
The Thirteenth is a 478 yard par 5. Other than a bunker on the left side of the fairway in tee landing territory, the fairway is mellow enough until you get to the approach shot, which needs to carry a creek and avoid the water to the left and right front of the green.
The Fourteenth is a 348 yard par 4. It’s a dog leg right, with cross bunkers at the turn and the green surrounded by mounds and a bunker short left of the green. It’s another hole where it’s rather easy to find one of the bunkers. I actually liked this hole because it sets you a little off kilter and makes you hit some quality shots to score well.
The Fifteenth is the last par 3 at 154 yards. It’s a well protected short one shotter, with bunkers essentially surrounding the green. It certainly is a nice break before taking on the last three holes, which are some of the longest on the course.
The Sixteenth is a 385 yard par 4. The hole turns slightly left. There is a bunker on the right again in tee landing area, while water that you can’t really see from the tee is across on the left and goes all the way up to the front of the green.
The Seventeenth is a 412 yard par 4. There’s water and bunkers along the right side of the fairway while a good amount of bunkers are around the green. This is another hole that I liked the look of. It didn’t hurt that I holed out from 50 yards out. That doesn’t happen very often.
The Eighteenth is a 552 yard par 5. It’s a big finishing hole. It’s a double dog leg, turning left from the tee and then right. The fairway then juts downhill to some water, so you likely have a forced carry approach shot over the water from the raised fairway. After a bad tee shot, I was able to get into long iron territory for my approach. A lay up seemed excessively conservative, but I really had to hit it pure to get it over the water and close to the pin. I stupidly went for it and ended up in the water. Alas, the lack of many photos of the hole. I was too busy kicking myself.
The back nine was more interesting than the front. The terrain was relatively flat until the Eighteenth, yet there was enough going on so you didn’t feel like you were playing in an open field. Some of the holes felt repetitive, but there were some that stuck out. I’d rank them 17, 18, 12, 16, 14, 10, 13, 15, 11.
Generally, the course is very playable while providing enough interest to keep a lot of people happy. The conditions were very nice and everything is well run. The cart girl came around enough and there was water all along the course, which has become particularly important now that we’re reaching the high point of summer. For the most part, the course was a little repetitive to me and while I liked some of the holes, there are a lot more that didn’t really stick out. I’m glad to see that the green fees are a bit lower as well. I see Turtle Creek as a well maintained, playable course that could be a good scoring round for better players while keeping it fun for recreational players. That’s a good formula for an enjoyable round and although this probably won’t be in my regular rotation, I can see how it is for many others.
Gripes: They don’t have a lightning warning siren. There was a good chance of thunder storms when we were starting our round, so I asked if there was any sirens and was told that we were on our own. Yeah I know I’m ultimately responsible for making the call, but you’re supposed to seek shelter if lightning is within 30 miles, which is a little difficult to do by just relying on what you see and hear. It’s a significant investment for any course to get the right detection system, but I think it’s worthwhile. Too many views of power lines for my liking as well.
Bar/grill: Actually a pretty good set up. The outdoor area is covered and has lots of cushy couches and chairs and the inside bar has a large tv and is pretty big. One of my more favorite places for a few post round beers.
Clubhouse: Adequate with some Wilson sets for sale. You don’t see that everyday.
Practice area: You have the range over at Waltz farm and the putting green near the First tee. No short game area.
Getting there: Route 422 off the Limerick exit.