Turnberry – Short, but Mighty Indeed
I have borrowed Turnberry’s own description, “call it short, but mighty” as it is most apt. This short course is located in Brampton, Ontario and is the sister course to Eagles Nest (my review of Eagles Nest is here) which is located further east in Maple (Vaughan). Playing on what was the last nice late fall weekend this past November, I was able to enjoy a sunshine filled and relaxed round on what was one of the more challenging shorter courses I have ever experienced. Challenging and fun. There is nothing that is cookie cutter about this course and it is a course I hope to get back to and experience again.
If you have played Eagles Nest then you will understand the strong similarities in look, condition and challenge. But perhaps most notable is the fact that Turnberry is a par 56. Yes, there are 16 par 3’s and these are sandwiched around two par 4’s – the first hole and the 18th. The par 4’s are not exactly short (443 yards and 392) so make sure you pack all 14 clubs.
My first impression was that this course is extremely well maintained. For late season the tee decks were in fantastic shape, albeit well used after an extended stretch of mild fall weather. However, they were flat, tightly mown and framed each hole exceptionally well. The greens were terrific, just as good as Eagles Nest and the best of any short course I have experienced. Players and staff certainly care for the course as while the tee boxes reflected the normal wear of par 3 play, the greens had very few ball marks. An elevated tee on both holes one and two help the player ease into the round with some confidence standing over the ball.
The first of the 16 consecutive par 3’s may be one of the toughest however. A giant shared green (the second shares a green with hole 8) with several undulations means that simply hitting the green is not enough to secure par. And with trouble short and right this hole will demand your attention. But one could say that is one of the real strengths of Turnberry, this is no pushover of a short course.
The 4th hole is reminiscent of the ‘postage stamp’ green at Royal Troon. The 7th is only 102 yards but the 11th is more than twice that long and is a somewhat blind tee shot, as the green is tucked behind a knoll. The 13th sees a unique green feature, a Biarritz green. The 16th is a gorgeous hole with a long sliver of a green situated just beyond a large pond. The course offers an excellent hole by hole description on its website
Mounding, fescue, excellent bunkering and demanding greens will force players to bring strong ball striking and an excellent short game to score well here.
I loved the diversity of golf holes and the layout is exceptional. Having played both Eagles Nest and Turnberry there is no denying they’re outstanding courses. Eagles Nest is a worthy of its position on many top course ranking lists. But I think Turnberry is worthy of its own due as an exceptional course in the GTA. While it fills an important place as a shorter course it doesn’t do this as the price of quality, challenge and exceptional experience.
Aura – 8.5 out of 10 – The relationship between Eagles Nest and Turnberry allows for some strong marketing efforts between the two. Turnberry has made a strong name for itself and this course lived up to the hype. The website is terrific and showcases the course very well.
Value (cost / experience) –7.5 out of 10. Peak summer rates of $47 are not cheap but there are so many opportunities to explore value options. In the shoulder seasons, if you’re a cold weather player they market all day play for $20 if the weather is under 6c (an excellent marketing move, in my opinion). I play in that weather regularly. Safe to say there are options to play this course at a strong value rate.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 8.5 out of 10. I actually give Turnberry the nod here over its sister course. The diversity of golf holes, exceptional condition and a terrific layout which has players feel they are part of a more expansive layout then it really is creates a sense of quality that you notice as soon as you arrive and appreciate walking up to the clubhouse from 18.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – It was my last round of 2016 and it felt great to end the season experiencing a course of this quality and uniqueness. I loved it and look forward to coming back. – 9 out of 10
Highlight (what is great about the course) – The clubhouse is clean, spacious and inviting. The view down over the course is inviting. I loved the feeling I got on the first and second tee looking over the entire golf hole and feeling like the course belonged to me.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – Perhaps a third par 4 somewhere in the middle of the round would break up the stretch of 16 par 3’s nicely, but really I am just splitting hairs. I am not a fan of the Biarritz green design feature so if pressed to change anything that would be it.
Just So You Know – At the The Toronto Golf and Travel Show these courses offer excellent opening season specials, providing excellent value and access to two great courses. If you’re attending the show in the future make a point of exploring their offers.