About an hour's drive north of Charlotte, River Oaks Golf Club is set in a pristine wildlife area marked by a rolling topography, heavy tree cover and meandering streams. Renovations on the old course layout were extensive and the new championship layout takes full advantage of nature's splendor. It promises to be an enjoyable, scenic Stateville golf adventure with plenty of golf risk and reward for all levels of play. It features Bentgrass greens and Bermuda fairways. The course is about 10 minutes from Rock Barn, making it a cool 36-hole day pairing.
In August 2006, golf course architect Ed Carton directed a multi-million dollar tee to green renovation of the golf course. It reopened for play in May 2007. The course was formerly known as Buffalo Shoals and NC National. Prime season memberships (April-September) are offered for $499 with $15 cart fees - that's a deal!
First played this course in the summer of 2020 and holy cow, I was missing out. It was a very challenging, unique courses. Hills and elevation changes make for some awesome views and fun holes. There are many memorable holes, including the 3-hole closing stretch on the front 9, starting with the dramatic downhill par 3 7th, then an impossible elevated tee shot to a postage stamp landing area on the par 4 8th and the blind tee shot and approach over a creek to the par 4 9th. The back 9 is a great mixture of risk / reward and birdie / bogey opportunities, summed up perfectly with the closing par 5 18th hole. You'll need an accurate tee shot in the fairway to have a decision about going for the guarded-by-a-creek green in two. Playing it as a 3 shot hole also requires three accurate shots with plenty of hazards and bunkers to test your nerve. This is just a fabulous layout and is now kept in good shape year-round. The rack rates are a steal, making this course one of the best values around the Piedmont.
Grasses on the course are currently great (although slightly thin & compacted in several fairways on the back 9 due to 80% of the carts following the same track). NOBODY here follows the 90deg rule and prob 35% still park on Tee Boxes. As noted in a prior review, course conditions are not the current issue at ROaks. It’s the totally unstructured operation of the place. Every visit we have to sort thru the carts to find any that actually have Sand in the Divot Bottles, and or, no sticky residue from prior use. The clientele currently using River Oaks is all over the board. Due to its troubling history but current great course conditions you’ll find a wide Range of Folks playing here. One group will be wearing sleeveless Wife Beater Tee Shirts, cut-off Jeans with 20 yr old tennis shoes while the next group very well dressed. You’ll find a new $70,000 Truck parked next to a 40 year old delapidated one with 2 Giant ‘Don’t Tread on Me” Flags sticking of of the Bed. Guess that’s where some of the Dogs I’ve seen on the course in Carts rode on their way to the course! River Oaks has reached a transition period to where it needs to decide which direction it wishes to pursue. With very little effort RO could be come a Nice Golf Club. Adding Water & A Bathroom on the course, repairing several dangerous delapidated cart Bridges, keeping the Clubhouse Restroom presentable, replacing the 3 unusable/broken ceiling fans on the back patio, maintaining the Cart Fleet and enforcing several common Industry Course Rules would go a long way in upgrading the place!Read The Review
This COURSE has a long (often rocky) history, now called River Oaks it has continued to improve each year under current ownership. Condition wise it can now compete with many of the other Public courses in the area. The primary issue at RO is now not the course conditions as much as it is everything else. For many years this course was a goat track due to bankruptcy and ownership changes. During these down times the only patrons using it were lower income golfers or new golfers just looking to get on a course. Current ownership (approx 10 yrs) has brought the course and the clubhouse back, however the general environment of the place and its clientele has not been elevated to a level resembling a higher-end or nicer golf club. It operates on a skeleton staff… Thus many things suffer.. including dirty carts, dirty or unorganized facilities (ie. bathroom) and little to no monitoring of the course nor cart management on the course. The Maintenance Superintendent is one of the hardest working guys you’ll find, ownership leaves the majority of decisions up to him, however he too is short handed. Many areas of the course struggle due to cart traffic with little to no cart controls. Too many patrons drive on to Tee Boxes and park greenside, ignoring cart paths. These actions are the primary issues for compacted grass & soil in areas that harm your game the most. As for the course layout… it’s an enjoyable course that has been altered several times. IMHO hole#10 needs a bulldozer taken to it (and the extremely rocky hillside cart path leaving the primary Tees is ridiculous). The landing area for drives on this hole is severely steep, given that the cart path dumps all cart into the center of this fairway conditions can be rock hard. Several of my near perfect drives have landed near the 100 yard marker but ended up rolling backwards down the hill some 50 to 75 yards into several rough areas or holes. These compacted areas can be found on numerous holes and approaches. River Oaks can be an enjoyable golf outing, and as mentioned earlier the grasses on the course have reached a level rivaling any Public course. This place could very easily become a Top Course, however it never will until Staff & Ownership understand what’s required to be a Top Course with Quality Facilities, Clean Carts, Respectful/Knowledgeable Patrons, and more restrictive course rules found on Higher-end Courses. River Oaks… Give it a try.. I’ll bet up find it interesting if nothing else.Read The Review
I tend to rotate my golf on 5 to 8 area courses. Have played here around 3 times per month for the past 10 months. There has been a lot of labor put into the course in recent months and years.. and last late summer the fairways were pretty good. The layout of the course is different for sure with several strange holes. Having played here quite a bit this spring the #1 issue with the course is wear & tear. Never played any course in my 55 yrs that is less monitored! Folks park within 3 yards of numerous greens and park on many tee boxes! The place has less cart control than any course I have ever played! Due to this the ground is compacted and any grass in these areas is struggling! The bent grass greens are pretty good.. but many are very slick. Approach shots that land softly on the greens can end-up 10 yrs off the greens due to the above mentioned issues! The course has lots of potential, if only it had more & thicker grass!Read The Review
Played here several times this fall. Pretty nice course with good points & some bad. The Bent grass greens were great especially since bent grass has become harder to find in recent years.. thus making River Oaks even more special. As for the course layout… ‘interesting’ might be the word to describe this place. The holes really don’t have a constant flow or feel given some are tree lined and attractive yet most of the back 9 has no such feel. Didn’t particularly care for holes 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, & 18. One thing I noticed each visit is that nobody seems to rake the sand traps and numerous golfer drive right up to the edge of the greens. The clubhouse is basic no frills however it’s elevated back deck offers a great view of the course.Read The Review
Played here often on 2021. Interesting layout for sure, as it been altered numerous times since first opened. Many of these alterations have ruined the flow of the course. After plating the first 7 holes you’ll think you have found a gem of a course as they are attractive and normal… after that the layout and visuals go downhill fast. Hole #9 has been converted from the original par 3 to a strange par 4. In recent years the new owner has removed thousands of trees (on the holes without houses) and this makes the visuals drastically different than on the holes where he could not. Holes 15 thru 18 now all sorta run together in the low valley near the creek (that floods every couple years). This part of the course in no way resembles the balance of the course. I would have loved to seen the place back when it had the tree lined fairways. As for conditions… nice bent grass greens that are very slow in the summer and like kitchen floor fast in the winter. Fairway grass has really improved this year and now is about as good as you’ll find in the area. The practice area is also sorta strange as the Range Tee is highly elevated vs the landing areas. No way to judge your distance. Practice green is nice however cramped so no areas to practice chipping.Read The Review