Riverwood Golf Club is a private 18-hole golf course located in Port Charlotte, Florida. The course plays 7,004 from the back tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 74.8 with a slope rating of 144. Riverwood Golf Club opened in 1992 and was designed by Gene Bates; Mike Burton is the General Manager. Golf Digest has awarded Riverwood 4 1/2 stars as a result of its truly unique design.
Gene Bates was very thoughtful in designing the layout at Riverwood. Here you will find two totally different nines. The front nine winds through heavily wooded terrain, rich in stands of natural pine, while the back nine meanders through wetlands and salt marshes. Most players would say the front nine is much easier than the back although the lush landscape and native vegetation make each hole a challenge taking advantage of the course’s natural setting. As with most Florida courses, there is plenty of water to be avoided. You will also encounter many trees that seem to be planted in awkward places as well as mountains of sand built around the greens creating steep runoffs into trouble (i.e. trees and lakes). . The course constantly demands the golfer’s attention throughout the round. Several spectacular holes and first-class conditioning make Riverwood a course you will want to play over and over again.
The Golf Learning Center
One of the amenities that set Riverwood Golf Club apart from other Southwest Florida golf courses is The Golf Learning Center. Here you can play while you learn – and learn while you play. There is an area specifically designed for practicing approach, chip, and sand wedge shots, as well as a one and a half acre putting green. These separate areas enable golfers to practice the use of every club in their bag and enhance all aspects of their game.
Memorable Holes (All yardage is from the Black Tees)
Number 2: Par 4, 375 yards. The large lake and houses on the right side make the tee shot on this par 4 hole rather interesting. Initially the fairway is fairly narrow with tall palm trees on either side that will need to be cleared in order to have a clear approach shot. The water hazard on the right meanders into the fairway up near the green, demanding that the player choose the right club on approach. The water continues up the right hand side and goes all the way around the back of the green with nasty runoffs on the backside should you overshoot the green.
Number 5: Par 3, 171 yards. Number 5 is a picturesque par 3 with water all down the right side and sand between water and green. With trees on the left side, the only “bailout area” is short and left. The green is oblong in shape with a hogsback (hump) in the middle, causing the ball to roll, many times away from the hole. As far as scoring well on this hole, you are somewhat at the mercy of the greenskeeper; hope that he was in a good mood when he set the pin placement that day!
Number 8: Par 4, 435 yards. Number 8 is the toughest hole on the golf course, a par 4 with three lakes; two of them joined together up by the green. In order to be successful on this hole, you will need to hit your tee shot past large pine trees, and at the same time, avoid water on the right side. Your approach shot will be over a small creek to a green with water on the left (i.e. anything left is wet). The green is pretty flat and open in front allowing for a bump and run shot. Par uis a great score here, especially from the back tees.
Number 11: Par 4, 400 yards. This is a tough driving hole. In order to be successful on number eleven, you need to keep two things: an accurate drive and the right club on approach. There is water to avoid on the right side; however the optimal position off the tee is down the right side as trees on the left can block out an approach shot. A well placed approach shot to this large green with a large bunker on the left side. This is no easy par.
Number 12: Par 5, 549 yards. Number 12 is one of the most challenging holes on the back nine; mainly because of its sheer length. At 549 yards from the back tees, the average golfer is not going to be able to get on in two; with all of the trouble present, he may have trouble getting on in three or four. As you stand on the elevated tee and survey the lake that must be dealt with on both the first and second shot, you must set a strategy on how to play this hole. How much of the lake you decide to cut off from the tee is up to you; just be prepared to deal with the consequences of a bad decision. A good drive and a well placed second shot will leave an approach to a green that is hidden from the tee. Par is a good score on this hole.
Number 16: Par 3, 212 yards. You really only have two choices off the tee on number 16: hit the green or be playing three from the drop area. Playing at well over 200 yards from the back tees, this can prove to be a somewhat daunting task. The large green is relatively flat and can give up some birdies if you can reach it off the tee. Many players consider number 16 to be one of the toughest par 3s in southwest Florida.
Number 18: Par 4, 455 yards. Remember how I mentioned earlier that the front nine had a lot of pine trees to deal with and the back nine was more sea marsh and wetlands? Number 18 makes the transition back to the pines. The hole requires a solid “semi-blind” drive which avoids the long waste bunker on the right side and then a long iron or hybrid to a large, inviting green. Although this hole is a rather long par 4, it is quite possible to score well and finish on a positive note.
Last Word: Riverwood is a course I would definitely consider joining if I lived in the Port Charlotte area. The staff is great and very attentive to their members’ needs. The practice facilities are outstanding and offer the member the opportunity to work on every aspect of their game. There is also has an eighteen-hole putting course.
And then there is the golf course; one of, if not the best, in the area. It is definitely the tail of two nines; you can score well on the front nine and then be brought back to reality on the back. The course’s terrain is basically flat, however there are some small hills that can affect your lies. The large greens are undulating and very fast; but not too fast. Many of the holes require thought rather than the “grip it and rip it” mentality of many Florida courses.
During season (January 1st thru April 17th), Riverwood is for the most part a private club, however they do allow play on the ExecCard. During the summer, they also accept the Big Summer Golf Card.
For more information on Riverwood, or to become a member, visit them online at www.riverwoodgc.com or give them a call at (941) 764-6661. Riverwood is definitely a must play if you are within a two-hour radius.