Opened in 1966 by Bob and Paul Porter, the River Bend YMCA Golf Course in Shelby, NC is one of the few YMCA owned golf courses in the United States. Designed by Russell Breeden, River Bend is a beautiful 18 hole course surrounded by the mountains of western North Carolina. River Bend utilizes many of the existing features of the area to provide a natural and aesthetically appealing golf course. The course features fast (!), well-manicured Mini-Verde Bermudagrass greens and offers four sets of tees that allow players to encompass a full range of opportunities to enjoy the game.
Phil Wallace is the teaching professional with over 40 years of experience (and 1992 Carolinas PGA Teacher of the Year). The course offers VIP memberships for discounted rates and pre-paid rounds. Inquire in the pro shop.
This course is absolutely a must play just for the lightning fast, immaculate greens and the price. The value for your golfing dollar is off the chart here. Most weeks, you can book online for deals under rack rate and the rack rates are the lowest in the area. The Bermuda greens are typically perfect year-round and the fastest you'll find on a public course. I would rank them against the best private courses with Bermuda greens and I am not exaggerating. The layout is challenging but scorable if you can handle yourself around the greens and leave yourself uphill putts. Hole No. 5 is a short-iron par 3 over water, beautifully framed by the pond and three bunkers in the front and a landscaped hill with flowers behind it. The number 1 handicap hole is the short but uphill par 4 No. 8 hole. The tee shot is somewhat blind because of the elevation change and is guarded by water left and O.B. right. Your approach shot to the huge, shallow but wide putting surface will also be uphill, over a hazard to a perched green where balls that come up short will roll back down the hill possibly into the water. This course is in Shelby about 45 minutes to an hour from Charlotte but is easy to get to. I would suggest making a day of it and playing 36 here or with a second round at nearby Deer Brook, which is similar in price and condition. I can't say enough about this course. Go play it! I did for the first time in August 2023 and can't wait to go back.
My first time at River Bend in Shelby, NC and... WOW. I'll start with what I paid – $19!?! I got a Hot Deal on GolfPass but even the rack rate of $35 would have been a steal. Next: the greens. Immaculate. FAST. Challenging. Simply the best putting surfaces in public golf around Charlotte. Period. End of debate. These Mini-Verde Bermuda greens were so good I will put them up against the best *private* club greens I've played in Charlotte – the likes of Peninsula Club, Trump National and Rolling Hills. The layout is fun, challenging and diverse. Great mix of elevation changes, doglegs, water hazards, short and long holes. Hole No. 5 is reminiscent of Augusta's Amen Corner par 3 No. 12. It is a short-iron par 3 over water, beautifully framed by the pond and three bunkers in the front and a landscaped hill with flowers behind it. The number 1 handicap hole is the short but uphill par 4 No. 8 hole. The tee shot is somewhat blind because of the elevation change and is guarded by water left and O.B. right. Your approach shot to the huge, shallow but wide putting surface will also be uphill, over a hazard to a perched green where balls that come up short will roll back down the hill possibly into the water. The tees, fairways and bunkers (I wasn't actually in one) were all in very good shape, super lush all around. Off the fairway, lies were hit or miss and there were some areas clearly marked as GUR (e.g. right of fairway on No. 13), but that feels like a nitpick considering the greens. One other less appealing aspect of the course is all of the power lines throughout the course. They can even come into play on some holes. A member of my foursome hit a good tee shot on the par 5 6th hole that struck one of the lines and deflected down on the Red tee box. Of course he got to re-play the shot with no penalty but I've rarely ever seen that happen (e.g. Mooresville and Birkdale also have power lines in play). The driving range is sandwiched between holes 10 and 11 and it can affect the play of those two holes – i.e. don't go left off the tee on 10 or long on your approach to 11. The chipping and putting green was just as immaculate as the greens on the course. So it's perfect for getting your speed down before you play. Overall, this course is just an exceptional value. In fact, it's not really close to anything closer to Charlotte. If the 45-60 minute drive gives you pause, I would suggest finding a day when you can play 36. You could play here twice or play a second round at nearby Deer Brook, which is very similar in price and conditions. Look for River Bend to contend for a spot in my 2024 Top 10 list! Go play it!Read The Review
Best greens in the area. There’s not even a close second. Probably rolling 10-11 and smooth as silk. Make the trip!!Read The Review
RIverBend YMCA is one of the best, I have lived behind the #2 tee box for about five years now, but have played this course for the last 25 years. I think it's in the best shape now that it has ever been in. Phil (Wallace) and his staff have the course in top shape. If your in the area its worth a day to come out and give this course a play. You will come back. RTRead The Review