Story by Ian Guerin
June 2018 PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. | Time has been good to River Club. And the people who strive to keep it that way have done their part, too. The Tom Jackson Signature Course, originally opened in 1985, is still seeing the benefits of a 2001 massive greens project that shelled the surfaces to USGA standards. What it has meant is an ability for the course’s staff to concentrate on fine-tuning - not ensuing major renovations.
“There’s no exact answer,” said Head Golf Professional and General Manager Tom VanHoogen. “The guys out there on maintenance have done a great job. River Club seems to always transition really well. So it’s not surprising that we’re doing well now. From tee to green, even the roughs have come back really strong.”
At River Club, tee boxes, fairways, greens and even the frequent afterthought of the boundaries are playing at a high level. During the spring rush, that means top-notch conditions. During the summer, it equates to focusing on the outlier areas and beautification so that it’s right there where players hope it is for the fall.
Come Autumn of 2018, it will be no different for the member of the famed Waccamaw Golf Trail.
“The course was in amazing shape.” Winston-Salem, N.C., resident and frequent Myrtle Beach-area visitor Chad Kiger said after a recent round. “I wouldn’t hesitate to book here again knowing the condition it is in right now. It’s a true testament to the groundskeepers to have greens that rolled as well as they did. Overall, I was just super impressed with the condition of the course.”
That quality look will indeed roll right on through as the seasons change. And they will marry themselves to the project Jackson originally set out to design in the mid-1980s.
Water is present on 14 of the 18 holes. Greens are often protected by that wet stuff, either in form of streams in front of the target areas jutting to the left or right, bending around oversized ponds. With all that going on, the clean looks and playability of the turf is key. It keeps playability at a maximum from all of the tees, including the summer additions of forward youth boxes. For the adults in your group, River Club will play no longer than 6,677 yards from the tips or 6,240 from the whites. Regardless, those trouble spots that start to appear at a large number of courses after high-traffic times - especially after strenuous winters - are difficult to find here. “Playability and condition-wise, this is one of the best ones down here,” VanHoogen said. “There are ones with bigger names, but enjoyability, this is one of the best.”