Review: English Turn Golf and Country Club

Course Name: English Turn Golf and Country Club

Designer: Jack Nicklaus (1988)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

History: English Turn Golf and Country Club was built in 1988 by Jack Nicklaus as a private course to host a PGA Tour event. The USF&G Classic (current day Zurich Classic) was held here sixteen times between 1989 and 2006 before TPC of Louisiana became the venue. English Turn is the home course of the Tulane Green Wave. The now semi-private course is considered one of the better courses in Louisiana, earning the following accolade:

  • #5 Best Public Course in Louisiana – Golfweek (2018)

Conditions: 8/10, English Turn is always in great shape with speedy Bermuda greens, well-manicured fairways, and numerous well-kept bunkers.

Value: 5/10, At one point English Turn was fully private, but is now open to the public. At $100 for a cart and eighteen, this course offers average value.

Scorecard:

Tee             Par         Yardage         Rating           Slope

Gold          72           7078                75.0               142

Blue          72           6449                71.9               134

White       72           5955                 69.7               124

Red            72          5376                 72.0               127

Hole Descriptions: English Turn is in many ways your typical “Florida” golf course characterized by flat terrain, Bermuda grass, plentiful bunkers, water hazards, and fairways lined by residential areas. Truthfully, I find courses like this visually appealing but lacking the charm and variety found in the classics of the Northeast. With that being said, English Turn is one of the better “Florida” courses I’ve played, always in great shape and offering a fair bit of variety. This is truly a PGA Tour-caliber challenge, with small, undulating greens and water coming into play on all eighteen holes. Make sure to bring enough balls!

Like most Nicklaus courses, English Turn commences with a “warm-up hole” before the carnage. The opener plays as a 362 yard par 4 with water down the left and a narrow fairway lined by bunkers on the left at 235 yards and mounds of rough on the right. This small, shallow green is set diagonally and gives the best angle to those who hit their drives longer. The biggest danger on this hole is two giant bunkers short right of the green. At 517 yards, the par 5 2nd provides another decent scoring opportunity. With water lining the entire left side and a minor forced carry over water, this hole features a narrow fairway lined by bunkers on the right at 230 yards and one spanning almost 250 yards down the left similar to the 18th at Blackwolf Run. This slender green is surrounded by tight lies and several bunkers. The 3rd is the first par 3 at 145 yards. With water lining left and long, this shallow green is also guarded by a moat of bunkers.

The 4th hole is one of the most memorable at English Turn. At just 301 yards, this reachable par 4 features a progressively narrowing landing area between 165 and 240 yards. At about 250 yards, this fairway slims to almost nothing, with a carry over water to an archipelago green jutting out into the water. Nicklaus channels his inner Pete Dye here with sleek railroad ties surrounding this tiny target green. I’m not sure this hole is truly reachable unless you can play a big draw in from the right. At 412 yards, the straightaway 5th is one of the longer par fours at English Turn but also one of the most open. This fairway is guarded only by rough and mounding and the true defense on this hole comes on the approach to a narrow back-to-front two-tiered green guarded by three bunkers on either side. The 6th is another fun par 5 at 526 yards. Playing straightaway from an elevated teebox, this hole is fairly open except for a bunker on the right at 230 yards and one in the middle of the fairway at 190 yards. While this bunker shouldn’t be in play, I have an issue with Nicklaus placing a bunker here and find it to be a recurring theme on his courses. This is a true risk/reward three-shotter with a lay-up that progressively narrows to almost nothing and water on the right for the final 140 yards. This shallow green lies just over the water with a bunker short and tight fairway long.

While I think Nicklaus often overbunkers his courses, I do think he did a great job on the 7th, a long 423 yard par 4. Just like at the 2nd, a lengthy bunker runs down the entire left side of the hole and effectively protects balls from the water hazard. This hole is a slight dogleg right and trees line the entire righthand side. This approach plays to green guarded by a bunker on the right and two bunkers well short that appear much closer to the green than they actually are. The 8th is another short par 3 at 146 yards. Featuring a downhill (or as downhill as it gets at sea-level) teeshot, this hole’s green is extremely shallow and juts out into a water hazard.  In addition to the water, this green is also surrounded by bunkers with the only acceptable bailout being short right. The 9th is an interesting short par 4 and one that combines features from several other holes at English Turn. At 341 yards, this slight dogleg left features another long bunker and water down the left and another water hazard on the right at 250 yards that constricts the fairway to almost nothing. Those who bail out right will most likely be blocked out by trees and I don’t recommend hitting anything more than 3 wood off this tee. Like the 6th, this shallow green juts back out over water with bunkers short and long. This is just pure, unadulterated “target golf.”

The back nine starts off with another target golf inspired hole in the 382 yard par 4 10th. This fairway snakes around a giant mound of bunkers that occlude the right fairway at 230 yards, catching many well-struck drives. This shallow green juts out behind water on the left and again requires a carry on your approach. The 11th is a short but tricky 494 yard par 5. After a draw over water for the first 180 yards, this fairway then turns left with a giant waste bunker down the left for almost its entire length. I really enjoyed the lay-up on this hole, as Nicklaus impressively laid out church pew-style bunkers that split the fairway into left and right portions for the final 150 yards. This green is actually quite elevated and provides a good respite from the primarily flat terrain. I thought the par threes as a whole are on the weak side and this is especially true for the short 134 yard 12th. Tucked into the far corner of the property, this awkward short hole features a narrow green with a horizontal hump in the middle guarded by bunkers on either side and water to the right.

At 360 yards, the medium-length 13th is another intriguing par 4 that requires thought on this elevated teebox. While water and trees line far right, the major danger here is the grass mounds and bunkers right of this narrow fairway. Given that this green is perhaps the most shallow on a course with extremely small greens, hitting the fairway is imperative if you want to hold it. The 14th is a challenging dogleg left 427 yard par 4 with a generous fairway lined by six tiny bunkers on the right between 195 and 295 yards. Finding these is almost an automatic lay-up to a narrow back-to-front two-tiered green guarded on either side by deep bunkers. At 505 yards, the par 5 15th is the signature hole at English Turn and easily the most memorable for its TPC Sawgrass-inspired island green. This short three-shotter features water down the entire right side of a narrow fairway and a set of large bunkers on the left at 220 yards. Those who successfully find this fairway may have a chance to reach this green in two, but doing so requires a heroic shot to the aforementioned island green. If you decide to play conservatively and lay-up, you’ll have at minimum a 70 yard carry over water. This green is larger than most and is guarded by a bunker short and moat-like one long.

IMG_2201
The island green at 15

The closing stretch offers up some of the best holes at English Turn, beginning with one of my favorites – 16. This is a 360 yard par 4 that plays to an undulating fairway lined by bunkers on the left at 250 yards and a massive bunker on the right running from 190 yards all the way to the green. I really like the giant crossbunker just short of this shallow green that forces the golfer to attack this green aerially. At 193 yards, the 17th is the finest par 3 at English Turn with a heavily undulating triangular green guarded by bunkers and water left and long. Houses just left of the water would have made great viewing spots when the PGA Tour played here. The closing hole is the hardest hole at English Turn as a strong 418 yard par 4. This is a terrifying hole in numerous ways, but it begins with a teeshot to a tight fairway lined with water and a lengthy bunker left that runs all the way to the green. While the right is more open, beware of a series of five bunkers ranging between 190 and 245 yards. This approach plays over water to another very shallow green jutting to the left. Those who successfully carry the water will have to contend with bunkers that surround this green. This hole played as one of the 5 toughest holes on the PGA Tour and is famous for David Frost’s hole-out sandshot to beat Greg Norman in the 1990 USF&G Classic.

General Comments: The practice facilities at English Turn are majestic, with a 350 yard grass range, massive putting green, and even a chipping green with a bunker. Pace of play has been extremely good every time I’ve played. You definitely get a “private course” feel here with a cozy clubhouse and epic entrance.

Verdict: English Turn and Country Club is among the finest golfing options in New Orleans and is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the Crescent City. There’s a real “private course” feel here with strong practice facilities, a great clubhouse, and fantastic conditioning. The course itself is stereotypical Nicklaus with numerous bunkers and lots of water providing quite the challenge.


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