By Ruben Lowman
River Hills Golf & Country Club will be briefly closing pretty soon for an extensive renovation of the golf course that will see its greens given new life and its bunkers getting stronger foundations.
The course, a longtime locals’ favorite, will close on June 20, before expecting to re-open the following day, as they can continue to make additional major improvements to the club that has already seen a recently remodeled clubhouse and restaurant.
“What we want to do as a company is continue to improve our product and invest in our golf courses to make them better and keep them the best of Myrtle Beach,” Founders Group International President Steve Mays said.
The course, which has a nearly 7,000-yard layout, will have its greens re-grassed and its bunkers will have improvements made to them that will allow them to be able to withstand stronger weather, such as heavy rains and strong winds, Mays said.
He said that TifEagle ultradwarf Bermudagrass, a hearty strain of grass that has performed exceedingly well in Myrtle Beach’s subtropical climate, will be installed on the course’s greens, with additional drainage being made to help with water runoff.
Another major component of the River Hills renovations will see the greens increased in size back to what they were when the course was first built over three decades ago. Mays said that, as a result of a fair bit of fairway encroachment that has occurred over the years, the greens will see their current size nearly doubled to restore them to their original size.
The bunkers will be reshaped, with some being deceased in size, with Capillary Concrete to be used to form the foundations, Mays said. He said they will be focusing on bunkers on the periphery of play.
“Every bunker on the course will be renovated and have a Capillary Concrete bunker liner installed, eliminating washout and drastically improving drainage, both factors that will significantly enhance playability,” Mays said. “Premium bunker sand will also be installed.”
The alterations to the bunkers will allow the club to keep a much more consistent surface throughout the year, despite whatever rain the club may face. Mays said that rains hit bunkers harder as they age and the drainage ages in them. He said using Capillary Concrete allows them to avoid situations where you might get a collection of pooled water in the bunker after a downpour of rain, as it strengthens the structural integrity and mitigates any impact the stormwater may have.
River Hills was designed in 1988 and 1989 before opening to rave reviews by world-renowned golf architect Tom Jackson, who will also take part in the renovations this summer. The club also saw an extensive $2 million renovation project carried out in 2003 by then-owner Benjy Hardee in order to make the course “friendlier.”
The Little River club is a part of Founders Group International (FGI), which purchased it in 2014 and owns 21 courses throughout the Myrtle Beach area. Local FGI courses include River Hills, as well as Long Bay Golf Club, Aberdeen Golf Club and Colonial Charters Golf Club, all located on Highway 9 in Longs.