River Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.6

Golf - Semi Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Pawleys Island, SC

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River Club Review

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. 


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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,240 70.0 128
White 5,807 68.3 119
Gold 6,677 72.2 135
Red 5,084 69.9 119

Course Information

Course Architect:
Tom Jackson
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Beware of water on 15 holes and the 100 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.6 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$85.00 to $130.00

Service was ok, the club house is a little dated but has all the basics, the practice facilites are good, and the pace of play was very slow when we played.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.