Tom Jackson has designed a number of spectacular courses along the Grand Strand and River Club is one of his finer and more challenging. The course opened in 1985 as one of the first "Plantation" style courses, which are defined by a layout that features wide, tree lined open fairways; large greens that are well protected; plenty of water hazards; and an abundance of sand traps. With a rating of 135 from the tips (which is short at 6677), River Club is no walk in the park thanks to dog legs, forced carries, plenty of water, and the well guarded greens.
River Club is generous off the tee box and gets tougher as you approach the greens. There are over 100 bunkers, water on 15 of 18 holes and some great risk reward opportunities. Golf Digest has rated River Club 4 1/2 stars. The sister courses are Willbrook Plantation, a Golf Digest Top 50 course for women, and Lichfiled Country Club which was build in 1958 and is the 4th oldest course in the area.
The front nine is the most scenic and it times can test you skills thanks to some tight fairways, well guarded greens with some large bunkers, and some fun water holes. #1 for example has a lake that follows along the left side with several small fingers encroaching into the fairway and then it crosses in front of the green. #6 is a great hole that turns left with a green set off to the right side of the fairway and in front of a lake – giving you a great risk reward shot if you want to try and carry the lake for a potential eagle – beware, there's not much room for error thanks to the water in front, trees on the right and large bunker covering the backside.
The back nine is pretty traditional and straightforward with flat tree lined fairways as it winds in and out and through a neighborhood. You will encounter some dog legs, a good risk reward opportunity on #15, some well protected greens, and plenty of water. #18 is a fantastic and very fun and challenging hole as it plays along the lake offering a good opportunities to take a risk by carrying the water twice for a possible eagle on this beautiful 518 yard par 5. Holes #14 & #18 are featured in the book "The 100 Greatest Holes along the Grand Strand" which is published by The Sun News
The bent grass greens were generally large, in great condition, about average speed, and true with gentle slope and minor undulation – putting didn't seem to be a problem when we played. When we played they were in near perfect condition. The bermuda fairways were also in very good condition and the rough was cut thin and very playable. Practice your sand shots before you head out because during your round you're going to encounter 100 bunkers of all shapes and sizes, but mostly huge. The good news is the sand is soft and very playable.
This is a course that is very fair, somewhat traditional and straightforward, gives you a few challenges to keep you on your game, will test your risk reward attitude, and gives you an opportunity to score well.