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Blog // Travel
August 19, 2005

Kiawah Course Review I: Turtle Point

Turtle Point was the second course I played on Kiawah and the least enjoyable. It might have been because luck had me sharing a cart with the most obnoxious cigar-chewing right-wing politics thumping golf-hacker I have ever met. Then again it might have been because the layour of the course is in many ways the […]

Turtle Point was the second course I played on Kiawah and the least enjoyable. It might have been because luck had me sharing a cart with the most obnoxious cigar-chewing right-wing politics thumping golf-hacker I have ever met. Then again it might have been because the layour of the course is in many ways the antithesis of what I believe good golf architecture is all about.

First of all, to me golf is a walking game. However, Turtle is only navigable by cart. Although the course is only 7061 yards from the back markers, it feels so much longer in terms of driving (often crossing roads, weaving in and out of houses). To some extent you experience this on most of Kiawah’s courses (other than Ocean), but here it is extreme. This cart reliance to me changes the experience of the game and not in a good way (especially when the person you are sharing the cart with wants to stop at every opportunity to buy beer and cigars and chat-up the cart girls).

Beyond that, Turtle lacks any real design integrity. People tell me Jack Nicklaus designs can be something of an aquired taste; well Turtle tastes pretty bad to me. After playing 12 meandering parkland holes of increasing monotony (wow ANOTHER dogleg approaching a hole guarded by a finger of water and an overhanging tree), you reach three small beachside holes that look like they have been carved out of the front lawns of the nearby beachfront mansions. If you manage not to lose a ball in amongst the beach towels and parked bycycles you then return to the parkland for what must be two of the most boring finishing holes in golf. I’m sure I almost fell asleep on the 18th tee as I thought to myself “OK, controlled tee shot, then short iron over a finger of water avoiding the overhanging tree…”

The other thing that stood out for me in the layout was the way it penalised not just wayward hitting, but long hitting. There are very few holes that reward drives beyond 300 yards from the back and most solid midhandicap golfers, if they chose to play from the blue tees, may as well leave their driver at home. Nicklaus’ views on the effect of technology are well known, but in this course they manifest a cookie-cutter approach to the game. Many of the holes can only be played with one tactic, which takes a lot of the creativity out of the game.

Turtle point is home to Kiawah’s Golf Academy, has a very good hitting and is home to an excellent grill and resturant. Those are the only real reasons to visit the course.

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