Over the last few years Turner Hill has undergone an amazing resurgence. Although this development was the brainchild of Ted Raymond, it is the current membership of the club that finally turned his vision into a first class facility.
In 1898, Charles and Ann Rice commissioned William Rantoul to build them a grand mansion on a big hill in Ipswich. Located on a sprawling 300-plus acres, their new home soon became a place where the elite were entertained. In 1943, upon the passing of Mr. Rice, the property was purchased by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
In 1997, Ted Raymond bought the property with the intent of developing it into a golfing community. The economy went a bit sour right at the time he started the development, so the funds he needed to fully actualize his dream were just not forthcoming.
In 2007, the membership bought out Ted and poured money into the renovation of the old mansion and the rest of the property. The membership jumped from about 90 to 160 the next year. Presently it is at 260 and looking to expand to as many as 350.
The Hurdzan/Fry designed course is a wonderful golf challenge that features some daring elevation changes, deep fairway and greenside traps and greens that are kept fast enough to worry the best of putters. We visited the course a few days ago and found that even though the North Shore has been so dry this summer, the fairways and greens there have been kept in wonderful shape.
"It hasn't been easy," commented John Sadowski, the head groundskeeper. "We have been challenged by the lack of moisture. I have 12 guys out on the course right now just spraying water on some of the hot spots to keep the course in good playing condition."
The first hole starts you out with an immediate challenge. The drive has to be kept in a fairly narrow fairway that features traps on both sides with a bit of a disaster waiting for you if you yank it left. However, if you stay a bit right, you will be rewarded with a nice angle to the green.
The second hole is the number one rated hole on the course. It is a bit of a devil of a dogleg right with both an elevated tee and green. From the whites it plays at 550 yards. Your shot into the narrow and long two-tiered green has to fly over a bush-lined seep to get there.
The third hole is a short par-4 that could be a birdie opportunity. The fourth is a long, 192-yard par-3 with a narrow and long green. Tough.
The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth holes are all pretty runs that should be the spot on the course where you have a chance to make some hay. The ninth, however, is just plain hard. At 471 yards. you would think a par-5 should be easy. This baby is all uphill to an elevated green that is protected in the front on both sides by deep bunkers. The green behind is large but two-tiered.
The tenth is a 130-yard par-3 back toward the clubhouse that is an over-the-water visual delight. The eleventh features an intimidating tee shot over a valley and then a tough second shot up toward an elevated tee.
Number 12 is one of the prettiest and most unique holes on the course. The extremely elevated tee points down to a many tiered fairway from which you hit your second shot to a dogleg left large green. The two problems here are choosing which club to use off the tee and how to survive the ride down the steep and winding cart path.
The par-5 thirteenth requires right off the tee. The 14th is uphill to the green, stay left. The fifteenth is a different hole in that you hit your tee shot to a landing area. Then you have to clear a brush-lined stretch down to a fairly flat green. The sixteenth is a short par-4 birdie opportunity.
The two finishing holes are interesting golf holes. The seventeenth is only 397 yards but the second shot is over water right in front of the clubhouse. It is visually beautiful and a bit unnerving at the same time.
It is the eighteenth that is the most unusual. It is relatively rare to have your last hole a par-3. But they have saved up a beautiful test of golf for last. Although only 152-yards from the whites, the stroke is to a very narrow green from front to back.
In front is the water and in back are traps. If you hit it long into the trap, your sand shot back toward the water can be exciting. Hit it short and you are swimming. If the greenskeeper puts the hole on the narrow bulge on the right side, you better have your sweaty palms checked.
The club is still accepting memberships. For a family membership there is a $40,000 initiation fee. It costs $10,609 a year for dues with an $1,800 food and beverage minimum. There is a two-year option available as well as other options for single members.
You can also just join the Mansion Club as a social member with limited golfing privileges. The club is also available for private functions. Nonmembers can play as either accompanied or unaccompanied guests of a member. Call 978-356-7070 for more information.