We visited this Arnold Palmer design in Shallotte, NC on Thursday, May 27 and played 36 holes on a very challenging layout. From the back tees, this course is rated at 74.7/149 and thankfully we played them one set up. At 6,440 yards, Rivers Edge is not that long, but the firm fairways and windy conditions put solid ball striking at a premium and tested every ounce of our patience. Several of the holes are very scenic and run along the Shallotte River and when the tide is out, the site of thousands of golf balls donated in the mud flats gave even the best players in our group cause for hesitation.
Conditions were somewhat of a mixed bag, with several of the bentgrass greens infiltrated with spotty brown patches, which were either dormant grass (unlikely) or some type of disease. They were rolling fairly slow but were dry and bouncing hard, especially on the down wind shots. The tee boxes were a little scratchy in spots and the fairways hard and dry. The series of exposed holes by the river were reminiscent of conditions at a British Open.
- #9 is a 90 degree dogleg left par-5 that played into the wind on the first two shots and as you made the dogleg, were forced to contend with a strong right to left wind and a fairway and green that sloped hard right to left. Trying to keep the ball on the putting surface was almost comical. I made bogey in both rounds and felt I had conquered the world. Favor the right side of the fairway off the tee because a drive left of center will catch the hard turf and roll down into the marsh.
- #10 is a 330 yard par-4 that has more landing room than it looks like from the tee. I laid up with a 3-iron but could have easily hit 3WD and gained a shorter approach.
- #16 is a 386 yard par-4 that you must favor the left side on your tee shot or risk a hard bounce right and a lost ball in the river. Take your tee shot over the middle of the left fairway bunker for the best line in.
- #17 is a par-5 with an awkward approach because of the positioning of a tree right in front of the green. Only a left pin placement is actually accessible and seemed a bit unfair to us.
- #18 is a 360 yard par-4 where you have to decide how much marsh to carry on the tee shot. I found a well struck 3WD at the gazebo in the distance is a good line and left about a 100 yard shot in. My playing partner buried a driver in a bunker about 60 yards from the green (video below). Your choice.
Value (3.5 out of 5.0)
Greens fees are $100 to play at this time which seemed a bit high for the summer. Of course, ours was included in our package but we found the replay rate of $25 low in comparison to other courses of this caliber, and a very pleasant surprise. Range balls were complimentary. We ate lunch in the clubhouse and the entries were delicious and very reasonably priced. Treat yourself to the blackened fish sandwich if you are inclined. It was excellent.
Facilities (3.0 out of 5.0)
The clubhouse and grill were good sized with a medium to small pro shop. The driving range was in very good condition and you hit from all grass stations. The putting green was medium sized but you weren’t allowed to chip and I couldn’t find an alternate chipping / pitching area. The practice area was clearly meant for resort players who want a quick bucket to warm up before their game and not for protracted practice. My rating here would go higher with top notch course conditions because the layout of some of these holes is outstanding.
Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)
The bag drop off / cart attendant was very friendly and provided an excellent first face. He had your clubs loaded, your range balls in hand, and directions to wherever you wanted to go. The pro in the shop was very friendly and accommodating and I believe discounted us $10 off the normal replay rate, which was much appreciated. They got us off when we wanted to play in the afternoon without issue. The servers in the grill area were very friendly and brought our food and drinks promptly.
On this day, we played the black tees at 6,440 yards and I carded an 84 and an 83. Rivers Edge is a great layout and we had a lot of fun. I’d like to replay it when conditions are at their peak.