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May River Golf Club – Bluffton’s Premier Golf Destination

May River Golf Club is a renowned golf course located in Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Palmetto Bluff community. This exquisite course is part of the luxurious Montage Palmetto Bluff resort, just a short drive from Hilton Head Island. The May River Golf Course offers a unique and unforgettable golf experience for players of all skill levels, with stunning views of the surrounding bluff and the River winding through the property.

Designed to provide challenging yet enjoyable rounds of golf, the May River Golf Club also places a strong emphasis on guidance to protect the natural beauty of the course. Golfers can expect a well-maintained course that seamlessly blends into the natural landscape, creating a harmonious and peaceful environment for their game.

History and Origins

May River Golf Club’s story begins in the early 2000s as founder Bob McNelis envisioned turning the lush 400 acre property along the May River into an unparalleled golf experience. May River Golf Club would also be the centerpiece of his planned Oldfield luxury golf community in Bluffton, promising residents and members not just a place to live and play golf, but an unrivaled lifestyle experience.

To bring his ambitious vision to life, McNelis tapped renowned golf course architects Tom Fazio and Jeff Lawrence. Together, their expertise crafted a stunning course that artfully incorporates the area’s natural beauty while offering no shortage of challenges even for seasoned golfers. When May River Golf Club officially opened its fairways in 2006 after 3 years of meticulous construction and growing-in.

It was clear Bluffton had gained more than just another golf club. The course’s immediately acclaim quickly had it gracing prestigious lists of the country’s best new private clubs and finest golf courses.

The Fazio Touch

Acclaimed golf course designer Tom Fazio is revered in the golf world for his beautifully sculpted layouts that enhance each unique landscape’s natural attributes rather than imposing upon them. It’s a signature style readily apparent across May River Golf Club’s pristine fairways. From meticulously incorporated lagoons to spectacular riverfront holes, Fazio ensured every inch of May River would provide breathtaking settings.

He also crafted challenging risk-reward placement across each hole. It’s a masterful balance of fun and playability for casual weekend golfers yet still demanding enough for seasoned players. May River remains Fazio’s only South Carolina design adding to the club’s exclusivity and renown.

Membership and Amenities

As an entirely private, member-owned club, joining May River Golf Club’s exclusive club comes via invitation only for those selected from an extensive waiting list. Those who receive the coveted invite will gain access to all of the club’s world-class amenities beyond just the championship golf course. This includes an elegant 30,000 square foot Southern-style clubhouse with men’s and women’s lounges. Formal and casual dining, event spaces with scenic marsh or riverfront views, luxurious overnight accommodations, and impeccable personalized service.

When not playing golf, members can also enjoy leisure time at the club’s tennis courts, fitness center, or winding swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and calm lagoons. As the vibrant social hub for Oldfield residents and members, there is always lively activity and graceful Southern hospitality awaiting at May River Golf Club.

Signature Course Details

As any visitor instantly discovers, May River Golf Club forgoes no detail across its exceptional 18 hole of play. Members and guests will embark on a magnificent round across rolling fairways dotted with picturesque live oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Along the journey await breathtaking marsh, river, and lagoon carryovers sure to impress all who play here. Again, Fazio’s nuanced balance of challenge and enjoyment shines through in the course’s design with strategic bunker placement, sloping greens to challenge even the most skilled putters, and risk-reward approaches on every unique hole.

While largely walker-friendly, cart paths conveniently allow quicker pace of play if desired on the 6,703-yard, par-71 course. The front nine’s relatively open, undulating fairways gives way to a more arduous wooded back nine requiring greater accuracy off the tee boxes to avoid May River’s countless mature oaks. For the course’s fortunate members, the result remains a perpetually exciting round of play no matter how frequently they may tee it up.

Notable Holes and Highlights

Several stunning settings await around nearly every bend at May River. Some of the course’s most notable include the scenic 3rd hole featuring an elevated tee box sending drives soaring over a winding lagoon running nearly the hole’s entire left side. The par-3 8th hole offers a favorite picturesque island green target before gave way to the riverfront 9th and 18th holes.

Other highlights include the 14th, a dramatic dogleg-left requiring precise placement in between lagoon and oak hazards. Also noted are the finishing two holes with the par-4 17th incorporating both marsh and river throughout while the 3-tiered 18th green brings a climactic putting challenge to every round at May River Golf Club.

Awards and Accolades

In its relatively brief existence, May River Golf Club has rapidly risen into the upper most echelon of the country’s very finest places to play golf. Annually recognized across various national rankings, May River has been distinguished by Golfweek as a Top 100 Residential Course, Top 100 Modern Courses, and listed within their Best Courses You Can Play By State for South Carolina multiple times. Golf Digest similarly routinely awards May River as South Carolina’s Best New Private Course while also appearing within their ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses numerous times as well.

Most recently, May River received the distinguished environmental honor by Audubon International for becoming a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for its eco-conscious maintenance practices and wildlife preservation. A likewise prestigious honor fitting for Bluffton’s jewel along the May River.

Stay and Play Opportunities While

May River Golf Club remains an exclusively private experience, opportunities do exist for visitors to the Bluffton area to receive coveted tee times on this esteemed course. Nearby Montage Palmetto Bluff luxury resort provides high-end overnight guests special access to book rounds at May River and other prestigious regional courses as part of their world-class golf offerings.

Partnering with Montage Palmetto Bluff for an indulgent Lowcountry getaway could reward guests with the golfing highlight of a lifetime on a course they might not otherwise ever have a chance to play at May River.

May River Golf Club Foundation and Community Outreach

As the leading ambassador for the sport in Bluffton, May River Golf Club leadership makes community and growing the game central pillars of its private club mission. This commitment shines clearly through the non-profit May River Golf Club Foundation’s extensive community outreach work since 2012. The foundation’s premier focus remains committed on providing youth and diverse groups greater access and inclusiveness within golf while also cultivating future generations’ talent and participation.

Examples of their impact includes sponsoring the nationally acclaimed First Tee Development Program. The club also partnered with the APGA Tour in 2021 to hosted their Tour Championship, further amplifying minority advancement and accessibility across the sport. On the junior level, May River Golf Club’s annual Palmetto Championship draws top high school teams from 10 states to compete.

Through its foundation and efforts, May River Golf Club’s enriching its cherished home in the Bluffton community as much as it does the game of golf itself.


How many golf courses are in Myrtle Beach?

Myrtle Beach is home to over 100 golf courses, making it one of the top golf destinations in the United States.

How much golf courses are on Hilton Head Island? 

Hilton Head Island has over 20 world-class golf courses, including designs by top architects like Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, and Arthur Hills.

How much does it cost to join the Palmetto Bluff Club?

Membership initiation fees at the exclusive Palmetto Bluff Club are reportedly over $100,000 with annual dues around $22,000 per year. Membership is by invitation only for those able to secure spots on the long waiting list.

My Thoughts

May River Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, is situated near the Palmetto Bluff’s picturesque landscapes. This world-class course follows the Conservancy’s guidance to protect and preserve the natural habitats surrounding it. The Conservancy’s guidance to protect the environment is evident in every aspect of the course, from the design by King-Collins to the copyright and all rights reserved.

Golf enthusiasts who reside in the area have the opportunity to enjoy not only the championship 18-hole course but also a scenic nine-hole course that further showcases the commitment to protecting the natural habitats.

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