198. Kiawah Island Club (River)
Tom Fazio (1995)
Built half a decade before the club’s other 18, No. 148 Cassique, The River Course at Kiawah Island Club features an exquisite river setting. The course flows gently through forest and along lagoons the first six holes, then becomes truly great from seven to nine, with two holes playing around big Bass Pond and the ninth running along the marshy edge of the Kiawah River. The back nine repeats the rhythm, with play again beginning in forest and along ponds before a dunesy stretch scattered with live oaks and vast expanses of sand. The River Course concludes appropriately with 17 and 18 along the tidal wetlands of the Kiawah River. There’s nothing particularly original in the architecture of The River Course, as Fazio has done variations of these holes before. It some ways, it’s The Greatest Hits of Tom Fazio.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America's Second 100 Greatest, 2017 to current. Highest ranking: No. 175 (previous)
Panelist comments, Kiawah Island Club (River):
"The course becomes more and more special starting on the 7th hole. Lots of risk/reward is introduced -- especially on tee shots. Greens are generally very large with substantial undulations. To score well, course's challenge is putting shots on appropriate section of green."
"Bunkers of all kinds serve as punishment throughout the course. Some are more optical hazards than actual penalty spots, but fast and dry conditions allow for even well struck tee balls to find their way into waste bunkers or deep pot bunkers. Where bunkers are not, light rough can lead errant shots into any number of small (or larger) ponds through which the course weaves."
"The River Course is one of the more testing layouts in SC. Generally the course presents itself as a "modern" venue with a twist. While the course is pleasing to the eye the par 4's tend to be similar and the 5's not as challenging as one would look for in a championship course. For me the par 3's were the strength of the course. For the most part the course is well manicured but on balance not as good as one would expect of a top 100 course."
"The greatest defense of the course to this rater is the angle of attack required to approach many pins. Greens are angled in such a fashion that many shots require a non-straight approach to have hopes of holding the sloped and fast greens."
"All par 5s are all very different with lots of options to get to the green; the green complexes on these particular holes are challenging to hit shots close to and chip/pitch when off target."