May River Golf Club
South Carolina, USA pg. III

Fourteenth hole, 190/165 yards; This is the most photographed hole on the course, for obvious reasons as it parallels the May River. The temptation is great to take a small bag of balls and spend the day on the tee!

The course brushes up against the May River at the one shot fourteenth. Architecturally, the hole is the best of both worlds, being both visually dramatic while at the same time…

…providing plenty of short grass on the far side of the creek to help the lesser golfer. Please note though that the hazard is on a diagonal and does creep in close…

…along the right of the green.

Fifteenth hole, 535/485 yards; In the author’s mind, the quality of the two nines is nearly identical. However, as the back nine consists of three one, two and three shot holes, it is probably (only probably, mind you) the more fun of the two nines to play as a greater mix of events likely occurs. This hole in particular is a most attractive half par hole, thanks to the built up five foot ridge and the accompanying Spectacle bunkers twenty yards short of the green. The sight of one’s approach from 230 yards ball just carrying the crest of the ridge leaves the golfer full of anticipation to the point where he almost feels like running up the fairway to see if he has ashort eagle putt. Providing the golfer with the opportunity to make up lost ground is something not always found in earlier Nicklaus designs – May River is the all better for the give and take between architect and player.

The presentation of May River by Chris Johnson and his crew is in keeping with its rustic Lowcountry setting.

Some of the hit and hope fun of links golf is captured with this modified version of a punchbowl green complex. Be it his second or third shot, the golfer is eager to crest the ridge to see how close his ball lies.

Sixteenth hole, 435/400 yards; Hopefully, the golfer strides to the tee after just conquering the fifteenth. What does he see? A hole in keeping with its peaceful Lowcountry surrounds. There are no water hazards or dramatic landforms to set off warning bells. Why not get greedy? Let’s hit the ball close and get another birdie. What can go wrong?

Even as seen from as close as sixty yards, the sixteenth green appears innocuous. However, the height of the caddie tells of the deep grass hollow along the right. The front quarter of the green is only nine paces across and falls away on both sides. Recovery from either side to this forward hole location is vexing. Regardless of the hole location, the prudent approach on this sleeper is for the middle of the green.

Seventeenth hole, 235/215 yards; As highlighted in countless course profiles found within this web site (The Old Course at St. Andrews, The Jockey Club, Yeamans Hall, etc.), having the harder of the last two holes be the penultimate one is a great way to conclude the round. In that manner, the golfer is more likely to finish on an up note, one that leaves him keen to return. Such is the case here with the seventeenth perhaps the toughest target to hit in regulation on the course. The green is among the smaller ones and the left bunker is the deepest greenside bunker on the course at over six feet. The left and right sides of the putting surface are high, so recovering to a short sided hole location is next to impossible. Playing for the front edge of the green often works in the golfer’s favor.

The screws are tightened at the long one shot seventeenth. The sable palms in the background were all there, providing a most handsome backdrop.

A high soft bunker shot is required if one misses the seventeenth green to the left.

Eighteenth hole, 570/550 yards; Well devised playing angles greet the golfer on the tee one last time. Drive long left near the water and the golfer has the best/only chance of reaching this left to right angled green. Steer too cautiously to the right and a live oak interfers with one’s second shot. Prudently, the live oak was limbed-up to allow a low recovery. One final central bunker complicates matters, perfectly located 110 yards from the green.

One of the last bunkers built on the course was this central bunker 110 yards from the Home green. Play to the right of it and the water by the green is very much in play and in plain view. Play out left of the bunker and…

…the golfer enjoys a better angle down the length of the green with the water less in play/view.

The May River Golf Club is found within the 20,000 acres that comprises the Palmetto Bluff Resort. The Nicklaus design team delivered a great golf course with timeless playing qualities as a cornerstone from which this development will grow. Now it is up to Crescent to make the most of the opportunity. Their land plan looks attractive with the homes slated to be well back from the golf course, hidden underneath the canopy of trees. Hopefully, homes will never be built behind the greens or tees and thus ruin the sight lines – this is too good of a golf course to allow that to happen. Further good news is that Coore & Crenshaw may begin construction on a potential second course about eight miles from the Nicklaus one in the 2017 timeframe.

Just as nearby Harbour Town came to symbolize a return to thoughtful golf, May River will always stand very high within the galaxy of Nicklaus designs for striking the perfect balance between challenge and fun. Jack Nicklaus is sixty-seven as of this writing. Just like his win in 1986 in Georgia, it is wonderful to see that he is saving some of his best for last.

May River Golf Club is a private club though guests of the nearby Inn at Palmetto Bluff (www.palmettobluffresort.com) are allowed certain playing privileges. The baby alligator keeps a close eye on play at the third.

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is the first luxury property on the east coast for Auberge Resorts (www.aubergeresorts.com). Actually there are no rooms in the Inn itself and guests stay…

…at one of the fifty cottages and cottage suites that line the bluff or in one of the forty nine village homes.

This view from near the Inn shows why it is called Palmetto Bluff. The Grace, a sixty foot antique motor yacht, heads past the sand bar with bathers and out toward Calibogue Sound. A thirty minute complimentary water taxi service is provided from the Inn to Harbour Town and its famous red and white lighthouse.

The End