The first thing you notice on Otter Course at River Oaks Golf Plantation is the sunshine and space, lots more glorious space to spray the golf ball without being in the woods.
River Oaks, just 18 months removed from installing new Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda grass on the Otter and Fox nines, launched a renovation project that has brought a new look to the 27-hole facility. The Otter nine was the first beneficiary of the overhaul, which is being aided by Craig Schreiner, who received rave reviews for his work at Pine Lakes.
The Otter Course closed in June and reopened in mid-September with new irrigation heads, new drainage and new cart paths throughout. As noteworthy as what was added is what River Oaks subtracted. The Otter had 36 bunkers prior to the renovation but emerged with 17. The course also has 1,500 fewer trees.
The reduction in trees had the greatest impact on players, even more than the new traps. What was once a narrow layout chocked full of pine trees is now a much more open and, crazy as it may sound, bright course. The loss of many soaring pine trees allows the morning sun to hit the course shortly after it peeks over the nearby Atlantic horizon.
The Otter’s routing is unchanged but the increased room makes it feel like a different course, and the additional sunlight enhances its visual appeal and conditioning, particularly around the greens.
“Everybody loves it,” Scott Clayton, River Oaks’ head pro, said of the new Otter. “It’s much prettier, it’s wide open, and the greens have never been better.”
Initially River Oaks planned to renovate one nine hole course per year, but based on the reception the work on the Otter received, the course owners, in consultation with Signature Golf, opted to expedite the work schedule on the Fox Course.
As soon as the Otter nine reopened, the Fox Course’s upgrade began. The renovation on the Fox, which should reopen by the first of the year, is similar to the work that occurred at the Otter. New irrigation and drainage are being installed, traps have been reduced from 38 to 19, new carts paths are being installed and more than 1,000 trees will be cut down.
“The Otter turned out so good, and we had such a positive response, we went ahead and pushed this,” Clayton said. “Next year in the spring, we will have two renovated nines.”
The work won’t end with the Otter. River Oaks is planning to upgrade its clubhouse, adding additional seating and enhancing the menu, among other things.
The Bear Course will also undergo a renovation, though a date for that work hasn’t been set.
One certainty is that golfers playing River Oaks will arrive at a course that has enjoyed a substantial upgrade, in both playability and conditioning, since the beginning of last summer.
Save The Dates: The 2010 World Amateur Handicap Championship, the world’s largest single site golf tournament, will again be held the week before Labor Day, taking place August 30 through September 3. The 72-hole event attracts more than 3,000 golfers from all 50 states and more than 25 foreign countries to Myrtle Beach.
The tournament, entering its 27th year in 2010, is played on more than 50 Myrtle Beach area courses.
The World Am is a 72-hole tournament that is open to all golfers – young and old, male and female – with a verifiable handicap. Players are separated by age and gender – there are six different divisions – and placed in tightly grouped flights based on the game’s most comprehensive and accurate handicap system.
Each flight, which includes approximately 48 players, plays a different Myrtle Beach area course everyday and after four rounds, all flight winners and ties advance to the World Championship Playoff at the famed Dunes Golf & Beach Club.
While competition is an integral component of the event, it’s far from the only attraction. Each night players gather at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to enjoy the World’s Largest 19th Hole, the event’s social hub. The World’s Largest 19th Hole provides three hours of free food from the area’s finest restaurants, free top shelf drinks, live entertainment and a golf expo that features instructional clinics from the game’s leading names.