Turkey Creek Golf Club: Feast on this Sacramento Delight
LINCOLN - This beautiful piece of property used to partially serve as a turkey farm, supplying the main course for the annual Thanksgiving Day feast. Although now only an occasional wild turkey roams the area, the land is still considered a main course for many.
Relatively new to the Sacramento area, Turkey Creek Golf Club has quietly entered a once starving market. The scenic course not only provides a beautiful setting for golf, it offers a challenge to any level of golfer.
Course architect Brad Bell has a reputation for designing user-friendly golf courses. There are no gimmicks when he's making the blue prints. Unlike some designers, Bell shows some empathy for the average golfer. You won't get beat up at this location. And if you do, forget about blaming the course. Check the mirror first.
"The back nine is very beautiful, in fact, so is the entire course."
This is a second effort from the former Sacramento PGA tour player. Bell designed Teal Bend Golf Club off Garden Highway in Sacramento. It's tough to find any golfer who has an unkind word concerning Teal Bend. The same probably can be said concerning Turkey Creek, which resides in a more natural setting, yet won't have golfers tense due to tight fairways and impossible greens.
It's definitely a fair test of golf, which is exactly what Bell had in mind when he started tearing down 50-foot high mountains of dirt left over from the quarry days. "My design philosophy is anti-target golf," Bell said. "I wanted as many wide-open areas as I could and have greens that weren't too hard to figure out. I want to put the onus on the golfer to think."
Golfers will find Turkey Creek a serene location, a course where other golfers won't invade your space, especially on the isolated back nine where only the soothing sounds of nature can be heard on a quiet early morning or late afternoon.
Don't get too caught up in the atmosphere. If you're not ready to play a solid round, pars will turn to bogeys or perhaps much worse. The rolling terrain can be bothersome at times, and so can some of the water hazards and also the granite outcroppings. A quarry lake comes into play on No. 18, a beautiful finishing hole that requires considerable decision-making.
"This is a gorgeous piece of land, just naturally beautiful," said Ryan Jones, who frequents many of the Sacramento-area courses. "I think it is a very fair course. There is a lot of potential to get in trouble, but most of the time everything is straightforward. There are no gimmicks or hidden stuff."
It's not like another golf course was desperately needed in this area. In fact, some might suggest it wasn't needed at all. Walter Hix III of Roseville played the course in late May (1999) and said he'll be back. This is a man who knows a little something concerning golf courses. The head professional at Whitehawk Golf Course in Sacramento liked what he saw of Turkey Creek, located off Highway 193 in Lincoln, about a 40-minute drive from downtown Sacramento.
"I really like this golf course," Hix said. "It has playability and just a lot to offer. Golfers don't want to get beat up and they won't here. It's a golf course I think a lot of people won't get tired of playing."
Played from the tips (7,012 yards), Turkey Creek will challenge the low handicapper. It's certainly no easy task from the blue tees, which go a sizable 6,617 yards. The white tees can accommodate the high handicapper at 6,003 yards, while the women's tees are a bit modest 4,887 yards. The greens don't roll fast, but they do run true.
In keeping with the user-friendly philosophy, Turkey Creek ushers golfer on the course with an easy first hole. The big hitters can fly the fairway traps at No. 1 (all yardage references are from the blue tees). A more conservative play is heading right, where a good 3-wood for most leaves about 100 yards left.
Beware of the second hole, a par-4 going 351 yards. The front side of the green is a severe slope, which won't hold an approach. Looks are deceiving. It flattens out around 15 yards into the long green.
A water carry waits at No. 3 (171 yards). There is an old quarry on the left of this striking hole. Assuming your ball doesn't get wet, making par here is not that difficult.
A moderately sized par-5 (538 yards) arrives at No. 4. Big hitters should beware of water off the tee, about 270 yards away. A boulder and trees can block off the third shot, so stay left.
Two long par-4s are next, so getting off the tee is a must. The green at No. 6 is sloped, but don't be fooled, it's not as much as you would expect. Beware also at No. 9 (403 yards), where you have to get distance off the tee on the dogleg-right hole.
Groves of oak trees are everywhere on the backside, which gets going with a par-4 at No. 10 (416 yards) that is easier than it appears. A good drive to a downhill fairway will set you up in good shape. Water guards the green.
An uphill par-3 comes next. Make a smart choice with club selection, the hole can be longer than expected. The fairway runs a bit tight at No. 12, which measures 546 yards. The fairway drops down into a little valley, where a small green is located.
Your driver is probably not a wise selection at No. 13 (359 yards). Aim for the tree straight ahead, it's a safe landing spot. The signature hole arrives at No. 14 (152 yards). Club selection is crucial, considering the long, narrow green. Should be at least a club less for most golfers.
A short par-4 (344 yards) comes up next, followed by a par-5 at the 16th, which is very straight and wide, enough fairways that any level should have a decent shot at par here. That's not the case at No. 17, a par-4 that runs uphill and plays long. The 18th is a pretty finishing spot with a carry off the tee and a demanding second shot.
"The back nine is very beautiful, in fact, so is the entire course," said Turkey Creek head pro Kevin Williams. "The course isn't hilly and it isn't flat. It's a real special piece of land."
Costs at Turkey Creek run $45 prime time on Monday through Thursday. The price hikes to $65 on the weekends. Included are range balls and cart, which features the popular Pro Shot, a screen that shows exact yardage from any spot on the course.
Turkey Creek Golf Club
1525 Highway 193
Lincoln, CA. 95648
Phone: (916) 434-9100
Fax: (916) 434-9477
Head pro: Kevin Williams