A few years ago I played a rough round at Crystal Springs. When you drive out of the main resort parking lot, you pass through the front nine of the Wild Turkey course and on that day, after struggling mightily on the eponymous course--one of the most tricked-up tracks you'll ever see--Wild Turkey looked so inviting, so broad and expansive. My interest was piqued and ever since I've hoped to come back and play it someday.
Problem is, it's normally a little out of my price range. However thanks to recent aeration, some reasonable deals were offered. I'm not exactly playing with a ton of confidence lately so I figured the sub-standard greens wouldn't really bother me or make much difference to my indifferent scoring.
You know a golf course is classy when they give you free range balls with your round.
The opening hole. Wild Turkey is divided into two topographically distinct stages: "Ridge" and "Basin". The course begins somewhere in the middle of the ridge, wends down to the basin for roughly the first one-third of the round, climbs back up the ridge for the middle, and back down to the basin for the finale.
Crystal Springs boasts an excellent halfway house, that sells above-average hot dogs and imported beers.
There was hardly anyone on the course on this sunny Saturday. To get here from Manhattan is about an hour and half drive, well worth it when you consider a) how quiet and uncrowded it is, and 2) that's about how long it takes for me to get to most NYC courses via public transit.
On the 4th hole, I missed the green wide. I hit a nice chip to two feet and was flabbergasted when a trio of lodgers watching from up on the balcony applauded. I really hope they noticed not just the nice chip, but that I'd saved a par on this long, difficult par 4.
The "ridge" stage of the course is mountainous yet still very open-feeling.
Driving back down the mountain towards the back nine and the "Basin" side of the course.
Like at many of these alpine courses, many holes are separated by long-ass drives wending through resort and time-share lodging. Such courses are distinctly of the modern era in that they're realistically only playable by means of horseless carriage. You could walk a place like this, but then you'd be hiking.
#10 offers an eye-popping, almost-aerial view of the town of Hardyston. (Or is it Hamburg? They are kind of loosey-goosey about town designations around here.)
#11, a par 5, is essentially a shelf cut into the mountainside. Everything wants to flow back down to the left. Both my tee shot and layup were pushed way to the right, but ended up in the fairway.
These are the gaudy basin panoramas you see while driving out of the property, the kind that first attracted me to Wild Turkey.
#17, about as broad and open-skied a par 5 as I've ever seen.
The home hole wends back up the steep mountainside and towards the main clubhouse, behind and left of the green.
I had a very nice time here. It is a sweet course, big and spacious without being boring, visually soothing and a stiff but fair challenge to one's golf skills. An ideal refuge in which to tranquilize one's world- and city-weary golf soul. If tee-time pricing allows for it, I'll be back before long.