Out of the Shadows: Can You Conquer the 3 Best Holes at River Hills?

There is hardly a traveling golfer who isn’t familiar with Myrtle Beach and its abundance of courses, so it can seem counterintuitive to think of parts of the area as being underexposed, but it’s a reality.

Pawleys Island is home to Caledonia, Pawleys Plantation and True Blue, among others. In the heart of Myrtle Beach, Grande Dunes, Pines Lakes, Dunes Club and King’s North are household names, and Barefoot Resort anchors the North Myrtle Beach golf scene.

Travel north of Tidewater Golf Club though and there are scores of good layouts that lack the name recognition of some of their peers. Courses like River Hills Golf Club, for example.

A Tom Jackson design, River Hills is a good golf course. The layout provides a stern challenge, the rolling property features elevation change rare to the area, and the conditions are typically outstanding.

Located off Highway 17 in Little River, the course hides in plain sight, and it would be to the benefit of your next Myrtle Beach golf trip to find the property. After discussing the virtues of River Hills, here are the course’s three best holes, according to general manager Bobby McCullough.

● The par 4 fifth hole (401 yards from garnet tees/381 yards from orange tees) offers a memorable test. The dogleg left plays uphill, so the effective distance is greaterRiver Hills 5th Hole than the scorecard suggests. With sand flanking the right side of a tight-ish fairway, precision off the tee is must to increase your chances of success on a challenging approach. Mounding in front of the green means you have to fly the ball onto the course’s hardest putting surface to reach in regulation. (pictured right)

● McCullough loves the back nine par 5s, beginning with the 11th (548 yards garnet tees/512 yards orange tees). For all but the longest of hitters, this is a three-shot hole. A gentle dogleg left, No. 11 features as much undulation as any hole on the course, highlighted by a picturesque, uphill approach. Water runs from tee to green along the left side, increasing the danger. Stay right and make sure you hit enough club. (top photo)

● Everyone remembers the penultimate hole at River Hills. The par 5 (491 yards garnet tees/454 yards orange tees) 17th requires players to negotiate water twice on the dogleg left. Water snakes along the left side before bisecting the fairway approximately 320 yards from the tee. River Hills is a target golf course, never more so than on No. 17, where precision is required on those nervy first two shots. A pair of bunkers defend the front of the green, so avoid leaving the approach short and a rewarding par could await. (pictured right)

River Hills isn’t one of America’s top 100 public layouts, but it’s a good golf course, even if you don’t hear a lot about it.

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