No one would confuse Tom Jackson’s work with that of some of golf course architecture’s luminaries like Tom Fazio, Pete Dye or Tom Doak—he built his Myrtle Beach golf courses in an era when the urgency of building another relatively user-friendly golf course somewhat outweighed any directives to make that golf course particularly special. No matter—River Club is very pleasant anyway. Child of the 80s though it is, it is less visually bombastic than some of its contemporaries, Jackson keeping the shaping a little closer to the ground. The bunkers are large and plentiful but among the shallower you will find along the Grand Strand. In fact, you could theoretically putt out of a number of them.
This does not mean the golf course is a total pushover, though. Yes, it makes a great first course after you arrive for your vacation, but it will keep you and your group interested if placed in the middle of your itinerary. The course succeeds on the strength of some of its shorter holes relative to par. Take the par five sixth, for example. At only 496 yards from the tips and 477 from the middle tees, it is eminently reachable for a good percentage of players who will take it on. The way is fraught with peril, a heroic second shot needing to clear a pond that abuts the green, but if pulled off, eagle will be a distinct possibility. The same risk-reward situation endures at the closing hole as well, a dogleg-left par five with a peninsular fairway. Players who choose to shorten the hole can do so by some 50 yards with a well-aimed tee shot, setting up as little as a mid-iron—once again over water—to a shallow putting surface. Fun!
As mentioned above, one can almost always expect to find River Club in very good-to-excellent condition, as the broad putting surfaces with their Champion Bermuda grass tend to roll fast and smooth. Be nice to your putter and she may supply you with a couple more birdies than you’re used to as a result.
Unfortunately, River Club must be dinged for its quite Spartan practice facilities. There is no driving range and the putting and chipping greens are diminutive when compared to those of some of the course’s neighbors. But you’re there for the golf course, right?
River Club is one of the banner-carrying members of Myrtle Beach’s middle class of golf courses. If you are planning a South Strand trip and want to mix in a more modest course with the Caledonias and True Blues of the world, River Club is a very good candidate.