When it debuted in 2001, the Roger Rulewich-designed Wild Turkey course at Crystal Springs Golf Resort was the last of four 18-hole layouts to appear on the western edges of this massive 90-hole golf complex.
Wild Turkey is aptly named because the course provides a wide array of interesting holes. Designed by Roger Rulewich, a long time number two man under the late Robert Trent Jones, Sr., -- Wild Turkey is part of the massive 90-hole that is Crystal Springs. Rulewich understood that creating a layout with sufficient width would be a must given the wide range of handicap levels that would be playing golf at the resort. The scale of the property is truly enormous. The 1st hole starts from an elevated tee and the vistas provided really get the golf blood flowing.
Many of the features at Wild Turkey are quite large -- the greens generally are massive with bunkers showing a similar disposition. Wild Turkey is not hemmed in by housing and the intersection of golf and Mother Nature is clearly on display. Rulewich used a well-conceived routing to include the super dangerous par-3 7th hole which demands nothing less than a superbly hit approach over a pond that if ever drained could easily open a driving range with balls to spare. After that hole Rulewich goes in the opposite direction with two quality holes -- the long par-5 8th and the well done mid-length par-4 at the 9th.
There's considerable ground movement at Wild Turkey but matters would be even more compelling if the turf were kept closer to a firm and fast setting. The holes on the flatter land are sufficient but never get the golf juices flowing as those holes which are on the more rolling land. Interestingly, the ending hole parallels the opener but heads uphill all the way. Generally, uphill holes that go straight up can be dull but that's not the case here. The approach is well done with a green that accepts only the best of plays.
Wild Turkey served as a fine follow-up to what Rulewich created with the resort's flagship course -- Ballyowen. To his credit, Rulewich has created a design that has enough quality holes to more than compensate for those that are less so.
by M. James Ward