The small market town of Turriff (pronounced “Turra” by the locals) lies close to the flowing waters of the River Deveron, with a population of around six thousand people. The golf club was established back in 1896 when founding members, led by G. M. Fraser, set out a course on the river terrace, one and a half miles to the west of the town centre.
Nowadays, this pleasant parkland course plays to a par of 70, measuring a touch over 6,100 yards. The lack of length is largely due to Turriff having only a couple of par fives on the scorecard – one on each nine at holes 6 and 12 – with the second of these three-shot holes only extended in recent years from a long par four.The four par threes are all excellent short holes, starting with the 141-yard 4th (“Wee Devil”) and ending with the 132-yard 17th (“Short”). The 446-yard 7th is now the longest par four on the course and it’s also regarded as the toughest, with out of bounds down the left of the fairway and around the back of the green adding to its difficulty.
Local rule number 8 on the scorecard refers to OVERHEAD POWER LINES at holes 3, 8 and 14-16 (where golfers must replay their shot if their ball strikes the poles, lines or supporting cables) and this instruction gives a little indication of how charming this little track is with a local electricity line running through five of the holes.
I suppose if the course was located in a bigger town, the club would have had the power supply diverted or put underground by now. Instead, as a wee rural club in the heart of Aberdeenshire, the members just learn to live with what they’ve got, which just adds to its attraction in my eyes.
There’s a lot of good golf to be played at Turrif with holes routed along, then up and down the hillside overlooking the narrow floodplain of the river before holes 12 to 16 then return to the riverside.
I know the severe storms at the end of last December in Aberdeenshire abnormally affected the levels of the Deveron and all of the fairways beside the river were under water for a time. Despite that, they’ve made a remarkable recovery and you’d never now know there had been any problems.
The first of the par threes at the 142-yard 4th is a cracker, played to an elevated green surrounded by four bunkers but the three other short holes on the card were a bit of a disappointment in comparison - two of them (at the 10th and 17th) face uphill, right enough, and it’s never easy to make such holes appear attractive.
The downhill par five 6th was easily the best hole on the card for me, played straight downhill to a sand-protected green that sits immediately behind a burn. It’s a great chance to pick up a birdie but the hole’s also fraught with plenty of danger around the green site.
Turrif was a bit of a surprise as it’s nicely routed and in great condition, the ideal place for a society away day. With a SSS of two under the par and a yardage of just under 5,800 yards from the yellow tees, it certainly won’t beat you to a pulp.