The Nicklaus course at Colleton River Plantation made its debut in 1993, six years before the longer, tougher Pete Dye layout was unveiled, with both 18-hole layouts set out on a peninsula that separates the Colleton and Chechessee rivers. The Nicklaus course offers the usual Lowcountry mix of wooded and swamp-laden holes, as well as featuring a closing stretch of holes that occupy a more open landscape.
It may be shorter than its sibling but the course can still be stretched to just over 7,100 yards, with only a couple of the par fours measuring less than 400 yards from the tips. The 166-yard 4th is a very photogenic short par three, playing to an island green out in the marshes which is completely surrounded by water at high tide. Golfers should also bring their driver across the bridge to the green as the tee boxes for the 5th hole are also located on the island.
On the inward half, the links-style final five holes are very impressive, starting with the short par five 14th, which emerges from the woods then doglegs sharply to the right, over a very large fairway bunker to the green. The 189-yard 17th is a lovely par three, its green perched on the river, whilst the 454-yard closing hole flirts with marshland all along the right side as it bends towards the home green.
The Nicklaus design at Colleton River is a first-rate design in the Palmetto State. Challenging but never overbearing. There's also an array of shots that draw your interest and a clever routing that provides a range of settings that keeps you fully engaged throughout.
Curiously, for whatever reason, Nicklaus has a hard time in creating a superior par-4 less than 350 yards and you won't such a hole here.
Given the desire to sell real estate -- one might rightly believe housing can be a nuisance -- as it often can be because of bottom line bean counters. Quite the contrary here -- the housing is tucked far enough away where the golf takes rightful center stage in a number of instances.
Fergal outlined a number of the holes, and I will add a few comments that left a clear impression with me. The inward half does not get the attention that you receive from the outward half., There's a good combination of holes and you have two stellar results at the par-3 4th and the par-4 cape-hole 9th respectively.
The back nine starts the crescendo with a strong par--5 -- really like the position of the cross bunkers which play a major role especially when tee shot is not placed accordingly.
The par-4 11th gets little attention, but the key is attaining a left side position to open up the approach, which is beautifully situated and strenuously defended,
However, there's a bit of a letdown with holes 13-15. Players get the opportunity to take advantage of scoring opportunities before you reach the final stretch.
The ending can make a solid argument in being among the best closing run of holes in SC. The 16th is riveting -- you stand on the tee and the sound you hear is your knees banging against one another. The hole swings left and the intersection with the lowlands is done well by Nicklaus. The hole fits the space provided and fortunately there isn't the heavy-handed artifice that would rob the hole of the majesty it richly demonstrates.
The penultimate hole is wonderfully positioned -- a diagonal green protected by water and sand. Place the pin in the deep right corner and you had best have a vintage high Nicklaus fade in your shotmaking repertoire.
The closer rates among the best 18th holes that Jack has created. The drive is rigorously challenged, and the intimidation factor is alive and well because the deeper you go off the tee the higher the accuracy quotient is called upon. There's also a lengthy sand bunker along the right side that is well-crafted and fits naturally.
The green hugs that same right side and it takes a supremely gifted player to fit an approach when the pin is located anywhere in the back third of the green.
In my experience it's very hard to find an exceptionally designed course where housing is involved to such a large degree. Often times, the compromises that occur place has the golf taking it on the chin. That did not happen here.
The Nicklaus course at Colleton is ever close to a five-golf ball assessment for me but the stretch of holes I previously mentioned on the back nine and a few on the front cause just enough of an anchor to weigh it down.
Nonetheless, a very strong case can be made that the Nicklaus course merits placement among the top ten in the Palmetto State. Given the hurdles that one faces, both from a business side in selling real estate and the environmental requirements encountered the net result is a layout that is well worth checking out if the opportunity presents itself.
The Nicklaus is definitely one of his softer designs, its clear that the course was meant to be a more member friendly course as compared to the Dye. Its still a solid and testing course, with a decent number of quality holes. The finish through the dunes is exceptional, with the double dogleg par 5 14th taking the cake. 16 is another awesome hole with a teebox placed almost on the porch of the clubhouse, making it a nerve-racking shot through the dunes. I definitely prefer the Dye, as its definitely the better course. However, the Nicklaus is a solid second option. Also, if you have a few minutes before or after playing, I highly recommend the 6 hole par three course next to the range.
Throughout the back nine, the holes that interact with the marsh or the ocean are on the highlight reel. The par 3 12th over the marsh measures 200 yards from the back tees and it’s no easy task to hit the green. An important feature to compliment Jack on is the bunkering on this course. The par 5s have impressive cross bunkers and the par 3s have carefully placed bunkers to give “perspective” in the line of sight across the horizon. The climax, and most celebrated aspect, of this course are holes 14 to 18 which play through attractive sand dunes and waste areas that bring you out to the ocean. The topology and surrounding landscape completely changes on the turn of a dime, which really keeps your interest in the evolving property. Previously you were playing in tree lined areas, or hitting over marsh-land, and now the course takes on a third personality along the ocean’s edge. The par 3 17th along the water is very special and really shows how impressive the routing is to take advantage of such natural features. It’s worth noting that the 9th hole is a wonderful Cape style par 4, and from this green, you get a glimpse of the final stretch on the back nine along the ocean. This panoramic view certainly whets your appetite by letting you know that there’s something special ahead. It’s an enjoyable course with lots of fun shots, and a wonderful contrast to the Dye course, which only adds to the overall top notch experience at the Colleton River Club. Those visiting the Hilton Head area should jump at the opportunity to play both courses.
I'm a member here and I think your review is right there. Yes, it's easier on the golfer than the Dye and is a favourite amongst visitors, one former Euro Tour Pro telling me that it is lovely to play three different looks holes, pine woods, marshland and (faux) dunes. Scenic, challenging and fun in three words.