River Club golf course sits toward the gentler end of the spectrum, with a very comfortable aesthetic and fun mix of holes that are no pushover as a whole but will nonetheless refrain from demoralizing the player. As such, it makes an ideal first course for any Myrtle Beach golf vacation or, equally, a nice mid-trip palate cleanser between two of its more strenuous neighbors.
Designed by Tom Jackson, architect of dozens of courses throughout the Carolinas and beyond, River Club is an exhibition in soft contouring and shaping. Whereas many area courses brandish steep slopes and swales, sharply-cut bunkers and wild greens, River Club’s more rounded features cling close to the ground. This is not to say, of course, that it is a boring golf course. Not in the slightest—Golf Digest gives River Club 4 ½ stars on its “Places To Play” listing and two of its holes—the par 3 14th and the par 5 18th—are featured in the book The 100 Greatest Holes Along the Grand Strand, published by The Sun News.
The 14th is a beguiling one-shotter that plays 186 yards from the Black tee, 149 yards from the middle White tee and 122 from the forward Red tee. The green is situated on an island but it is not a prototypical “island green” in the sense that with a significant buffer of fairway, rough and a clutch of bunkers guarding its left side, it is far from the case that any shot that misses the putting surface suffers a watery fate.
In fact, water is much more prominent a strategic factor on River Club’s closing hole, a par five that 518, 493 and 369 yards from its respective tee boxes. The hole forms the shape of the number ‘3,’ with the middle arm formed by a peninsula of fairway that juts into the lake guarding the hole’s left side. Challenging that extra fairway instead of playing around the side of the lake makes the hole potentially 50 yards shorter, leaving a mid- or long-iron approach over yet more of the lake between the successful golfer and an eagle putt. It is a potentially thrilling way to close out a relaxing round at River Club.
River Club’s three main sets of tees may make it seem like there is little choice for a range of golfers, but yardages on all its holes are spaced out perfectly, meaning that the majority of players—from mid-single digits to about 20-handicappers—will have a good time and a fair match from the middle White tees, which measure 6,240 yards and carry a rating and slope of 70.2 and 129. The longer Black tees stretch the course to a still-modest 6,677 yards, carrying a 72.4 rating and 137 slope. In other words, River Club sits in a very comfortable key for all players who visit, which makes it one of the most popular golf courses on the southern part of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.