Riverfront’s best view of the river

Published 6:10 pm Monday, September 7, 2009

HARBOURVIEW – Some golf courses have a suggested handicap level for any players wanting to test themselves from the championship tees. At Harbourview’s Riverfront Golf Club, thanks to the course’s 15th hole, a minimum driving distance would be the most appropriate standard to use for any newcomer to the course.

Riverfront’s 15th hole measures a moderate 394 yards from the tips. There are other holes at Riverfront that are tougher, but it takes a big stick from the tee just to be able to play the 15th as a 200-yard carry over the marsh bordering the Nansemond River separates the tee box from the fairway.

The scenic stretch along the river was perfect for laying out an unusual golf hole and it would’ve been perfect as more residential property, just like all of the homes and condominiums that have sprouted up around Riverfront Golf Club since it opened in North Suffolk a decade ago.

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“For the architect using that property, probably the most expensive property out here, to use it as a golf hole, it made for a very scenic, spectacular view,” said Riverfront’s director of golf and PGA professional Tim Newsom.

“It’s just the lay of the land for the most part. It’s the natural contours of the land that makes it a great hole. For one thing, the tee is about 20-25 feet above the tidal marsh, and that’s rare for this area,” said Newsom.

Even from the white tees, the carry to the fairway is around 100 yards and the view is great from either spot.

The best spot to stop and pan over the river is technically not a part of the hole, it’s on the 150-foot bridge connecting the blue tees to the rest of the hole.

While the tee shot is the intimidating challenge, the approach to the green is just as important, even as it doesn’t look sinister. Shots that miss right or well beyond the green are in danger of finding the marsh. Even hitting the green in two though isn’t necessarily enough for a golfer to keep his emotions in check.

“It looks fairly easy, and it’s usually only about 100-150 yards,” said Newsom, “but the green severely undulates. It slopes hard from left to right. If a player misses hitting onto a certain terrace of the green, it makes for a very, very difficult putt.”

So after clearing the 200-yard gorge and reaching the green with a good second shot, a dreaded three-putt can ruin it all. Golfers usually reside in frustration for such reasons.

Being on Riverfront’s 15th hole late in the evening, with the sun setting over the river and marsh, that’s a great example of why golfers continue to play and be addicted to the game even with the inevitable penalty strokes and three-putts.