This South Carolina gem will give most golfers about all they can handle
WEST COLUMBIA, South Carolina (May 14, 2019) – The Indian River Golf Club in is fashioned after a Scottish Highlands-style course. The golf course was built by golf course architect Lyndell Young and is part of the Indian River community, opened for play more than 26 years ago and is owned by Sunbelt Golf Development.
This 18-hole championship layout offers golfers four sets of tees and can play anywhere from 4,336 to 6,502 yards. With a course rating of 71.9 and a slope of 137 from the back (gold) tees, Indian River will give most golfers just about all they can handle. At 5,960 yards (69.4/130), the white tees will challenge most men and still let them leave with a little bit of dignity! Seniors will have a great time at 5,464 yards (66.2/109).
Indian River Golf Club is quite unique. As you make your way around the course, players experience in excess of 200 feet of elevation changes and beautiful views of Lake Frances. Mature oak and pine trees frame the boundaries on a number of holes and deviating the slightest off the fairway can quickly bring them into play. Golfers will find a lot of mounding on the fairways and their peripheries as well as around the greens. This can lead to the dreaded uneven lie and also make for some interesting up and downs.
Many of the fairway bunkers have large lips which limits how far you can advance the ball, making pars a lot tougher – even the bunkers around the green will be a challenge. But what sets Indian River Golf Club apart from other golf courses in the area are the greens, massive Tif-Eagle putting surfaces with lots of undulations, false fronts and a good deal of speed.
There are several memorable holes at Indian River Golf Club, starting with No. 1. The first hole is a short par 4 and immediately takes driver out of your hand, unless you can carry it over a creek about 225 yards out. Trying and failing can get you off on the wrong foot. Better to play a tee shot of about 200 yards and leave yourself a short iron or wedge approach shot, slightly uphill into a large, well undulated green.
The last three holes on the front side can make or break your round. The seventh is the course’s No. 1 handicap hole and also its most memorable. Play your tee shot out to the left of this 559-yard dogleg right. Long ball hitters could conceivably cut the corner of the dogleg and get home in two, but to me, the risk greatly outweighs the reward. Playing your layup shot out to the left around the tree line will set up a downhill approach shot into the green with a beautiful view of Lake Frances in the background. In the event you hit it over the green, there’s a bunker that should stop your ball from going into the lake.
No. 8 is an interesting par 3 that plays 135 yards over water with a deep bunker guarding the right and another guarding the left. There’s also more sand between the water and the green and a lot of mounding around the green. It’s a fun little hole. The par 4, ninth hole is carded at 364 yards and features the first significant carry over water, although it’s less than 150 yards from the white tees. The fairway bunker on the right can come in to play as can the one on the left and the woods further left if you push it too far. Your approach shot plays uphill to a green that you don’t want to miss left.
The back nine has its share of unforgettable holes as well. No. 12 is a 434-yard par 5 that doglegs right and offers an opportunity to go for the green in two with a good drive down the left side. Even more appealing, the second shot is played downhill to a green protected by a large bunker on the right that sits well below the putting surface. The green slopes significantly from back to front with a top shelf back right. In the event you have a right side pin placement, getting it close in two could be a tough task. With all of the mounding in the fairway, you could be playing from a tricky lie.
The 14th hole is ranked the toughest on the inward nine. At 410 yards from the white tees, it’s a long par 4 that doglegs to the right. You’ll need to play your tee shot down the left side, but anything pushed left of the fairway will most likely find some trees. The large fairway bunker on the right shouldn’t come into play for most golfers, however the trees that border the right side of the fairway have hindered the approach of many golf balls. The green is elevated with no bunkers around it; just a lot of mounding. Par or better here is an accomplishment.
Two of the final three holes are par 3s. No. 16 is a good looking 156-yard one-shotter that plays downhill to a very large green with water on the right and devilish bunkers on the left and in back. Hitting the green in regulation is the easy part. Putting across the ridge on the left side is when things start to get interesting. At 338 yards, the 17th is a short par 4 that begins with a totally blind tee shot. If you’re playing the course for the first time, as I was, you may have to guess at whether the hole goes to the left or right. Fortunately, I guessed right – literally!
The round at Indian River Golf Club ends with another challenging downhill par 3 that’s listed at 159 yards and plays over a creek. It also usually plays into the wind and a lot longer. The long, narrow green is fronted by a sand bunker on the right. A fitting end to a fun round of golf.
Indian River currently has more than 100 members, a number that has doubled in the past 18 months thanks to the much-improved course conditions and congenial staff. They also offer senior and military discounts.
The Indian River Golf Club is a course that will challenge any golfer, regardless of their ability. Course knowledge is everything out here as there are many blind shots. Knowing the greens and where to approach them is vital as well if you want to score well. It’s a course that relies on accuracy and distance control off the tee, accurate approach shots and a good short game. Miss a green and you can easily be chipping over 10 yards straight up a hill. If you don’t hit it hard enough, you may find it back at your feet.
Indian River is not a course that is easy to walk, although I saw several players do just that. One I spoke with had over 13,000 steps in on his Fitbit and was only on the 9th hole.
The Indian River community is growing, which in turn means the golf club will be growing too; 23 new homes are being built near the driving range. Because of some minor conditioning issues, greens fees at Indian River Golf Club are less than $30, regardless of when you play. As management continues to make changes and improvements to the course, these rates are only going to go up, so right now it is a tremendous value.