Playing the Par 4, 14th ‘The Turtle’

Playing the turtle with Ian Callen Star Mail Golf reviewer.

By Ian Callen

The par 4, 14th in the opinion of the writer is the hardest hole on the RACV’s course, particularly if you struggle around the greens.

Last Thursday I found Stephen Oates and Rob Reed walking from the “key hole” onto the 14th tee block. Once upon a time, this was a place of golfing action as the tee makes up the “junction” intersection. This is where you find the par 4, 6th fairway running along side the 14th, the par 3, 4th in the gully behind and the tee blocks of the 5th and 7th further to the right.

On this occasion however, there was only one pair of golfers and a spectator; watching on as the duo turned to face their next challenge. Which, on this day to be honest, wasn’t looking too intimidating at all.

Perhaps, it was because it was such a beautiful sunny morning without a breath of wind. It had certainly covered up the torrential downpour the course received the night before. And if you hadn’t walked it… you’d never have known that it was absolutely saturated and all tributaries to the burns were in rapid flow.

Addressing his ball first was Stephen, a right-hander who plays off a 16 handicap which means he gets a shot under the stableford system; so a five would be a good result today.

Rob on the other hand, is a lefty off 21, so he gets an extra shot; a six would also be a good result and to start both execute quality drives leaving them within metres of each other. This placed them close enough to the 150 post to think about taking up the invitation to the green as it beckons.

Most golfers would say a good drive and an iron, should set up a birdie putt… at worst, two putts for par, so Steve and Rob had at least set themselves up. It all sounds easy doesn’t it, but then there are days when you face head on into a Mt. St. Leonard northerly… the trip up this fairway lined either side with trees can be an ever so challenging one.

On this day, as our two golfers walk the fairway deciding on their next shot; they would have to be considering every aspect of what the green they are approaching, known as the “turtle” will have in store for them.

This is a green comprised four flipper like bunkers, two to either side of a raised green creating a “turtle” like appearance with an narrow opening at the front.

Golfers have been known to go from one sand trap to another ruining many a round and the humiliation of it all.

Why? Behind the green, is a house on Ryans Road and golfers addressing their ball on approach tell tales of subconsciously being aware that eyes are upon them. The story is told of those behind the kitchen window rolling about the kitchen floor in laughter having witnessed the reaction of those who’ve wiped out here.

I’ll never know if Rob or Steve felt the eyes that day, but they declined the turtles open invitation. Instead Rob squirted his second out low and flat so that it skidded to a stop some 30 metre from the green. Stephen’s shot hit water and stopped dead 50 metre short. The plan was now clear enough… run their third up onto the putting surface to roll it as close as possible to the pin.

The pair were now very much closer and at the mercy of their audience. Were “the eyes” on them… Stephen duffed his chip dribbling it only 20 metres on whilst Rob over hit his and was very lucky not to run it over the back end of the green. Reed now had a 35 metre putt to save his authentic par and Oates… well he had to hole his fourth; which he very nearly did leaving a simple tap in… a great recovery under extraordinary pressure, I thought!

In the end both Rob and Steve walked away from the turtle, happy enough, but not before directing a salute towards the kitchen window each having taken two points from the turtle.

Next week the Par 5, 15th “Turning for Home”.