Nicklaus Course at Colleton River Plantation near Hilton Head: A design with many faces

BLUFFTON, S.C. - Colleton River Plantation's acclaimed Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course received a shiny new present this past year: a strikingly beautiful clubhouse full of space and amenities.

Though the course and community were built at the beginning of the 1990s, the clubhouse has helped the development stay ahead of the ultra-competitive, Southeastern golf and real estate market.

"The community is much established," said John Ussery, realtor of Colleton River. "But to some degree it's a brand new amenity package thanks to the new Nicklaus clubhouse."

The clubhouse was entirely paid for by the members themselves and has helped elevate the community to the cream of the crop in the Hilton Head area. As the real estate market slows nationally, Colleton River managed better sales in 2006 than previous years, something no other neighboring golf community can say.

The original course at Colleton River, the Nicklaus Course is also higher rated by several publications - including and Golf Digest - than its neighbor, Colleton River's Pete Dye-designed course, which is set alongside the beautiful Port Royal Sound.

Debate ranges among members which is the better course, but that's a good problem to have. Both the Nicklaus and Dye possess different challenges and a different palette. The Nicklaus, in fact, has several different identities wrapped into one.

The course's first three holes begin as a traditional inland, Lowcountry course, tightly lined by trees and weaving among finger lakes.

The par-3 fourth hole is the first of several visual stunners. It's a delicate, 130-160 yard shot to an island green entirely over marsh with seemingly zero room for error. The following hole plays from an island tee box, a long carry over the same marsh to the fairway. That isn't the last time you're playing daring, penal shots either. The 9th hole doglegs left around wetlands to a shallow peninsula green guarded on three sides.

The gargantuan par-5 10th hole seemingly goes on forever: straight ahead, gently uphill that plays as long as 612 yards and begins another collection of woodland and marsh holes.

By the next par-5, the 14th, the course takes on another new identity for the remaining holes: a more barren, rolling wasteland look, featuring expansive waste bunkering lining each fairway.

The best views are saved for last on this course. The 17th green and 18th tee play along the banks of the river. Like Dye Course, the finishing hole here is a long, penal par 4 that offers a wide landing zone for the drive but a difficult shot towards a green guarded by water, framed by the new clubhouse in the backdrop.

Both the Nicklaus Course at Colleton River and neighboring Dye Course are private, though memberships are currently available and can be awarded through purchase of property within the plantation. Membership tops out at about 700 members for both courses.

Nicklaus Course at Colleton River Plantation: The Verdict

A spectacular piece of land has helped make Colleton River's Nicklaus Course one of the top golf courses in South Carolina. It's a piece of property particularly inspiring to Nicklaus.

"Colleton River reminds me of Cypress Point," said Nicklaus. "It has as many elements as any golf course on the East Coast."

Fellow tour pro and golf course architect Greg Norman called Colleton River Nicklaus' best effort in the Golden Bear's entire design portfolio.

Colleton River Plantation Real Estate

Membership to Colleton River is awarded through purchase of real estate in the development.

Initiation fees for home owners are $15,000 and annual dues are $14,300.
The bulk of the property at Colleton River, which was founded in the early 1990s, has been purchased, though 125 home sites are still available. There are currently 300 homes built or under construction. Lots start at $175,000 and existing homes start at $699,999.

Fast Fact

Also on location at the Nicklaus club at Colleton River is a nine-hole executive course, the Borland.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
Related Links
The front nine on Pete Dye's course at Colleton River Plantation is a mostly traditional-looking lowcountry layout, set in deep forest and weaving throughout the residential community with subtle doglegs. But it's the second half of the course that makes Colleton River among Dye's most remarkable. From the ninth hole through the finish, you're on open, coastal land nudged up to the Port Royal Sound, which filters out toward the Atlantic Ocean.
2 Min Read
More from the author
9 Min Read
September 23, 2021
We've crafted a Dream 18 from the most exciting holes in American public golf.
7 Min Read
September 21, 2021
Large buddies groups love playing Ryder Cup-style, multi-day team events on their golf vacations. And what could be more epic than playing a Ryder Cup match on a former (or future) Ryder Cup venue?
2 Min Read
September 21, 2021
Bernhard Langer recalls the turning point that led to a European wave at the Ryder Cup matches
4 Min Read
September 10, 2021
Pete Dye's golf course designs set the bar for innovation, creativity and challenge. We've compiled his top courses as rated on Golf Advisor by regular golfers like you.
4 Min Read
September 7, 2021
A recent visit to a trio of Midwest courses was a reminder that there's a lot to love about playing golf on campus.
3 Min Read
August 27, 2021
USA and Europe's finest women prepare to face off on a Donald Ross Midwestern classic. Here's a hole-by-hole guide to venerable Inverness.
4 Min Read
September 1, 2021
While the boom has been great for the industry, it's been tougher on golfers looking for tee times.
1 Min Read
September 17, 2021
R.I.P. to a legend.
4 Min Read
September 13, 2021
With a radical concept and engaging design, The Match golf course at PGA National Resort & Spa points toward a more creative future for the game in America.
1 Min Read
September 10, 2021
Play early, play often.
Load More
Now Reading
Nicklaus Course at Colleton River Plantation near Hilton Head: A design with many faces