The River Club is most aptly named, as water—whether a natural stream, freshwater lake or a man-made pond—comes into play on 14 of the Tom Jackson Signature design’s 18 holes. Another ubiquitous feature: sand, with bunkers numbering in the triple digits before recent renovations.
The course, which opened in 1985, plays 6,677 from the back tees, so length is not an intimidating factor. But as the abundance of water and sand suggest, a plethora of other challenges remain. Golfers must pay special attention to club selection as they navigate the wetlands and maritime forests that have led some reviewers to call this course, constructed on a former rice plantation, the prettiest on the Grand Strand.
As one reviewer from January put it on area golf website mbn.com: “If you’re hitting the ball in play, it’s not that difficult, but if you’re straying, the water gods will enjoy the sacrifice.”
On the 186-yard, par-3 14th hole, a nearly island green features bunkers between the water and the sharply sloping putting surface. The River Club may well save its most memorable hole for last, with a 518-yard, par-5 18th that puts some in mind of Pebble Beach. Reachable in two, the spacious green is protected by water—which also runs the whole left side of the finishing hole—in front and peppered with bunkers in the back. Jackson, a student of George W. Cobb and Robert Trent Jones, has designed 75 courses, including the Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg, considered one of South Carolina’s top 20 courses.
The semi-private River Club, rated 4½ stars by Golf Digest and tabbed in the magazine’s 2006 list of “Top Places to Play,” is widely regarded as one of the most challenging of his seven Grand Strand layouts. Part of the award-winning Waccamaw Golf Trail and the elite 22-course Prime Time Signature grouping, The River Club offers discounts on package bookings, and children play free with every paid adult.