Renovation at Myrtle Beach's River Oaks Golf Plantation breathes new life into the Grand Strand

By Chris King, Contributor

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The birth certificate says River Oaks Golf Plantation is 23 years old. Anyone who has been to the course during the last month will tell you the 27-hole facility is the closest thing the Grand Strand has to a new golf course.

River Oaks Golf Plantation - greens
The greens at River Oaks are in superb condition, rolling fast and true, Chris King writes.
River Oaks Golf Plantation - greensRiver Oaks Golf Plantation - driverRiver Oaks Golf Plantation - Fox course - No. 6River Oaks Golf Plantation - Otter course - No. 5
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Fox/Otter at River Oaks Golf Plantation

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River Oaks Golf Plantation stretches across more than 800 scenic acres along the Intracoastal Waterway. The Plantation offers 27 holes that are divided into three nines, each named after the some of the wildlife that call the course home. The Fox/Otter Course begins with the shortest of the three nines and finishes with the longest.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 6791 yards | Book online | ... details »

Bear/Fox at River Oaks Golf Plantation

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River Oaks Golf Plantation boasts three different nine-hole courses: the Bear, Fox, and Otter. Carefully carved from a former nature preserve, the courses sprawl across a scenic stretch of the Intracoastal with a convenient location that is just minutes from downtown Myrtle Beach. The Bear/Fox golf course provides a challenging test with a front nine where water comes into play on almost every hole, including an almost-island green on the par-3 fourth.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 6778 yards | Book online | ... details »

Otter/Bear at River Oaks Golf Plantation

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River Oaks Golf Plantation in Myrtle Beach is home to 27 holes of championship golf. The course sprawls across a former nature preserve that sits just outside the Myrtle Beach city limits. River Oaks' Otter/Bear combination is the longest course of the three available options.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 6877 yards | Book online | ... details »

Located less than 10 minutes from Myrtle Beach International Airport, River Oaks has always enjoyed the benefit of a great location, but under previous management, the design fell into disrepair, struggling mightily with course conditions.

But those issues are a thing of the past.

Signature Golf Group took over management of River Oaks Golf Plantation a year ago and the ownership group made a financial commitment to restoring the golf course. River Oaks has undergone a $2 million renovation project and the results -- as those who have seen the before-and-after efforts can attest -- are stunning.

Architect Craig Schreiner, who spearheaded the renovation of Pine Lakes Country Club, led the effort at River Oaks. He oversaw a project that included the installation of new Champions bermuda greens, the removal of more than 2,500 trees, new cart paths, and new bunkers and drainage, among other things.

The greens at River Oaks, which celebrated its grand reopening Oct. 21, are in superb condition, rolling fast and true. Players spend more time on the greens than any other part of a golf course, but that's not the only aspect of River Oaks that has enjoyed an upgrade.

Grip it and rip it at River Oaks Golf Plantation

For people who weren't previously familiar with the layout, the impact of the tree removal won't be as noticeable, but it's no less significant. Previously, River Oaks was perceived to be a tight golf course that, in many instances, discouraged players from using a driver. That's no longer the case.

The impact of the tree removal is perhaps most apparent on the first hole of the Fox nine. Previously the 536-yard par 5 offered little leeway off the tee, but with the removal of scores of pine trees, mostly along the right side, the first hole on the Fox is open off the tee, allowing players to swing away.

The tree removal had the greatest impact on the Fox nine, eliminating the shade that made it difficult to grow grass in spots, and giving golfers more latitude off the tee, particularly on holes 4, 5 and 6, doglegs that were previously claustrophobic.

River Oaks also installed new cart paths and bunkers throughout the Fox and Otter nines. With a planned clubhouse expansion and renovation in the next 18 months, River Oaks management will continue to improve the facility.

On the course, players who return to River Oaks will find three nine-hole layouts that offer different experiences.

Chris KingChris King, Contributor

Chris King, owner of Kingfish Communications, a PR and content marketing firm that specializes in helping golf destinations and courses, has spent the last 20 years covering golf and college athletics. His love of the game is matched only by the unreliability of his swing, which helps him evaluate golf courses through the eyes of the average player. King currently resides in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which affords him ample opportunity to improve. Follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Kingfish.

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