Much like one might expect every art gallery in Paris to be world class so would be the same sentiments golfing in Augusta, Georgia. This is painfully obvious as when you inform people you are bound for Augusta, Georgia to play golf their eyes almost pop out of their heads thinking you’re about to play Augusta National. Let me tell you that there is much more to golfing in Augusta than the revered grounds of the home of the Masters golf tournament and The River Golf Club is certainly one of them.
Not only is it apparent that coming here to golf will be extremely rewarding with having a wonderful host, family friend Joey Tobias a native Augustan it also includes a history lesson. It might not be that unreasonable to think that North Augusta is just the area of Augusta, Georgia that is just a bit, well north. So, when booking our review at The River Club I automatically thought this would be day one of 3 days golfing in Georgia. As we made the short 10 minute’s drive from Joeys home in the Pointweste area of Augusta, Joey pointed out as we crossed the Savannah river we were now back in South Carolina where we had just driven from that morning. Note to self, when researching golf courses as they say in the south “ dag gummit y’all get the state correct will ya”.
Under a brilliant sunny sky and an ideal temperature of 70F we cruised slowly down the entrance drive passing three large houses all with golf bags, shoes and other golf paraphernalia on the verandas. I asked Joey rather incredulously who would own such beautiful houses this close to the course? The answer was the golf course actually, as these three very attractive looking homes we’re actually the rentable cottages which can accommodate eight golfers per unit. The group of up to 24 golfers can make this their home base for the length of their golf holiday and if the interior of them mirrors the actual golf course it would be a very desirable place to plunk your head down at night. Go to http://www.rivergolfclub.com/gallery/ and this will show you how incredible they are.
Director of Golf Chris Verdery who was my direct contact on the day is also the man to talk to about your cottage stay and needs. After discussing the merits of staying in the cottages and checking with Eric at the pro shop counter Chris sent us on our way to enjoy what would be 18 holes of impeccable golf, well let’s just say the facility is impeccable, the golf had its moments too.
The Jim Fazio design is to say the least very well laid out. I like to call courses like this in the south traditional designs, with no place for tricky, gimmicky holes it rewards well-placed shots and puts to demand on putting. There is a certain point you reach when building a golf course and maintaining it that’s almost impossible to improve upon, this would be an apt way to describe the greens. That was apparent before we even teed off, as not only one but two practice putting greens situated very close to the clubhouse were quick and as smooth as glass. The greens were probably running at about 11 on the stimp meter and were in a word, perfect. They held incoming approach shots very nicely but also required accurate placement or you could just wave at your ball as it kept rolling and rolling and rolling. It is in stellar condition, this can be attributed to the dedicated team of Greenskeepers headed up by Superintendent Patrick Murphy. Three quarters of the play that it sees comes from a very solid membership of approximately 350 golfers. The other 25% are daily green fee players which would include those fortunate ones that choose the cottages as their home base.
Off the tee there was this continuity in having a nice wide landing area framed by beautiful, thick foliage running down either side of the fairway. I’m not exactly sure what one would say is just the right amount of bunkering but it’s quite possible one more bunker would have been too many or one less bunker to be not enough. When I play a golf course like The River Golf Club I’m never too upset if I’m in a bunker as the sand quality here was like blasting your ball out of fluffy icing sugar. Unless you happen to roll into someone’s divot from a previous shot it wasn’t possible to also have a poor lie on the fairways. On this day luckily we didn’t see a gator and gladly no snakes but there is enough water on the course to make you dial in “accurate” when playing a number of the holes. It’s a fantastic blend of features that make great golf courses, water hazards, tasty bunkers, flat tee boxes, amazing greens and lush fairways. All of this set into a slightly rolling and meandering lay out of trees and native grasses. What a track, as we say back home in Canada.
After 22 years at the helm Director of Golf Chris Verdery was accurate in expressing that there really isn’t one singular signature hole and I would agree that perhaps the final four holes is the signature section of this remarkable golf course. From your first steps up onto the veranda of the traditional wooden plantation style clubhouse to your final putt and in between warming up at the smartly maintained practice facility and playing the 18 incredible holes, welcome to a southern paradise.
www.rivergolfclub.com (803) 202 0110