Review: English Turn Golf and Country Club

Course Name: English Turn Golf and Country Club

Designer: Jack Nicklaus (1988)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

History: Designed in 1988 as a private course for the USF&G Classic (Zurich now), English Turn is now semi-private while nearby TPC Louisiana has hosted the PGA Tour since 2007.

Conditions: 8/10, the course was in great shape and manicured very well. The greens were a bit slow the last time I played, but are usually fast.

Value: 6/10, this course is semi-private, meaning it has members as well as unaccompanied guests playing. The guest fee is $100, which is a bit steep, but understandable given the practice facilities and history of the course.

Scorecard:

Tee             Par         Yardage         Rating           Slope

Gold          72           7078                75.0               142

Blue          72           6484                71.9                134

White       72           5955                 69.7               124

Red            72          5376                 72.1                126

Best Score: 87 (Blue Tees), 5/13/2016 with Dad

Front 9 Best: 44 (Blue Tees), 5/13/2016 with Dad

Back 9 Best: 43 (Blue Tees), 5/13/2016 with Dad

Hole Highlights: While the course has residential property attached, houses never come into play. This is unique of courses in the area. English Turn is also famous for having water come into play on every single hole. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, there is indeed tons of water in play. On hole 2, a medium-length par 5, water stretches down the entire left hand side of the hole. Poorly struck balls lucky enough to stay dry likely will find a giant bunker on the left hand side that stretches over 150 yards long. As with all Nicklaus courses, bunkering is plentiful. The fourth hole is one of the highlight holes. Only 300 yards from the Blue tees, the hole requires a drive of 180 yards to carry water. Channeling his inner Pete Dye, Nicklaus then makes the approach shot again carry water (and railroad ties) to a tiny green jutting out as a peninsula. Looking over the green you will see hundreds of balls who met their watery grave. Hole 6 is another par 5 that demonstrates several English Turn motifs. Bunkers litter the center of the fairway, but at least the fairway is wide. The trouble on this hole comes on your layup shot, as Nicklaus narrows the layup area to just over 15 yards. The green itself is incredibly shallow, as are many of the greens on this course. While I think Jack Nicklaus often overbunkers his courses, he did a great job on hole 7, a long par 4 playing well over 420 yards. Just like 2, a bunker protects the entire left hand side of the hole from the water hazard. There are no fairway bunkers, except for several about 40 yards short of the green. From the fairway, however, it appears as though these bunkers are greenside, offering a great optical illusion. I think that hole 9 is a rather weak finishing hole. A short par 4 that’s not reachable, this hole is a miniature version of the par 5 6th. A drive with less than driver is needed to safely land in a wide fairway. Longer drives are not recommended here because of the narrow shoot that forms at about 240 yards. Again this green is only about 10 yards deep, making hitting it in regulation extremely difficult.

Hole 10 starts off in classic Nicklaus fashion. Bunkers occlude the fairway at about 270 yards off the tee, making any well struck drive a hard earned par. I am not fond of random bunkering in the fairways. Strategic bunkering on lay-ups on par 5’s or wide fairways makes for great golf holes, but tiny bunkers that are just coin flips should not punish good drives. I also thought hole 12 was a weak hole. Just a wedge for most players, this tiny green is too sloped and tricked out. 13 has by far the skinniest green on the course, only about 5 yards deep. Unless you land it short (and left of the bunker), there is no way to keep approach shots on the putting surface. 15 is the signature hole on the course, a 500-yard reachable par 5 with an island green TPC Sawgrass style. Larger than most other greens on this course, this green is still very difficult to hit, especially with a long iron or wood in hand. In fact, the hole would be better of adding 50 yards, as drives of 200 yards and drives of 275 yards have the same distance in after a layup. Despite my issues with some holes on the back, holes 16-18 are actually great finishing holes with a lot of character. 16 is a long par 4 with a wild green and cross bunker directly before the green. 17 is the longest par 3 on a course with relatively short par 3’s. Houses line the left hand side water on this course, and would have made great viewing spots when the PGA Tour played here. 18 is an extremely difficult long par 4 at over 470 yards from the Championship tees. It on this hole where David Frost beat Greg Norman after holing out for birdie in the greenside bunker in the Final Round of the 1990 USF&G Classic.

General Comments: The practice facilities at this course are majestic; the range is over 350 yards long and provides unlimited balls off nicely manicured fairway. The putting green is massive and there is even a chipping green with a bunker. Pace of play has also been extremely good every time I’ve played. With that being said, Nicklaus’s courses are a little too tricked out design wise for me. Small greens, water everywhere, and sporadic bunkering make scoring well here a challenge.

Verdict: If you get an invite from a member, take it in a heartbeat. If you’re visiting New Orleans, I recommend this course over any others in the New Orleans proper. The conditions are good year-round and the practice facilities and clubhouse are top notch.

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