From 2013-15, Davidson’s River Run Country Club served as one of four hosts for the PGA’s Web.com Tour Finals, in which golfers can earn a PGA Tour card for the following season.
River Run’s fair but challenging layout and pristine conditions resulted in mostly positive feedback. However, if anything was lacking according to the players, assistant golf professional Chris Blackham said it was the practice facility.
The club sought to address that issue. And after multiple improvements from 2015-16, most notably a new short-game practice area, it’s easy to say it has, enhancing a course that’s consistently ranked as one of the state’s best.
“We wanted to have an area that was unlike anything else, to my knowledge, in the Carolinas in terms of a short-game practice facility,” Blackham said. “It’s just something different.”
The short-game practice facility, which opened in July 2016, features three greens that can be used as a pitching and chipping area for shots ranging between 10-80 yards. On the weekends, River Run converts the facility into a par-3 course.
The opening of the short-game practice facility came just a few months after the unveiling of The Davidson College Golf House, an indoor state-of-the-art golf practice facility at River Run.
In addition to the Davidson men’s golf team, River Run’s golf professional staff uses the Golf House for lessons. Those might come in handy if you choose to test your skills on this challenging layout.
River Run, a par-72, measures 7,317 yards from the championship tees, from which it boast a course rating of 75.9 and a slope rating of 141, according to the U.S. Golf Association.
“For maybe a lot of golf courses around town, you’ve got what I would call gimme holes, where you can hit the ball not really solid and still make par on those holes,” Blackham said. “I think the unique thing about River Run is you’ve got 18 holes on this golf course where one bad shot is going to make you make more than par.”
The course’s Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens, which Blackham said River Run converted to almost five years ago, also influence it’s difficulty.
River Run’s greens are fast, but not quite as quick as others in the Charlotte area because of their severe undulations. According to Blackham, more than 50 percent of the holes have multiple-tiered greens, which can lead to some three putts.
“It does make it difficult,” said Blackham of River Run’s undulating greens. “But I also think it’s unique and it’s what stands out. It’s something that you don’t see everywhere, and I think it makes it a different challenge.”
Off the course, River Run has also made a number of changes in recent years. Upgrades to the locker rooms in both the tennis and fitness facilities, the resurfacing of nine clay tennis courts and a new outdoor patio overlooking the 18th green are among those improvements.
Blackham said the only other change on the horizon for the course is the resurfacing of the cart paths, which could occur over the next year.
“It doesn’t necessarily have the views of say a Trump National (in Mooresville) or something like that, but it’s a better golf course, for sure,” Blackham said. “It’s a real test of golf, and I think that’s what separates it from a lot of golf courses.”
River Run offers five separate membership categories – a full golf membership, young professional membership, clubhouse membership, swim/fitness membership and a sports membership.
A full breakdown of membership options and benefits can be found here.