Hole #1 – Arthur’s Hill
This par 4 may prove more difficult than it appears. If your tee shot carries the slope in the center of the fairway, you will likely be left with a very manageable approach.  But if you drive the ball into the slope’s bank, be prepared for a longish, challenging second shot.  There are no fairway bunkers to worry about, but the tee shot does favor a right-to-left flight.  The canted green is elongated and is protected by wetlands on three sides.  A greenside bunker is positioned to collect approach shots that bail out to the right.  The hole’s name is a nod to the original course architect, Arthur Hills.

Hole #2 – Grand Oak
Simply put, a solid par-3!  Depending on your tee box you can see wetlands in front of you and left of the fairway plus deep, treacherous bunkers left and right. It is not overly long, but a large green with a tier that bisects the front portion of the green from the back can make this hole a challenge.  As you approach the teeing area, you will quickly see the large oak tree from which this hole derives its name.

Hole #3 – Eagle’s Landing
This is a long hole but par or better can be achieved. The fairway is huge and a drive that nestles near the target bunker on the right is where you want to be. Options await the second shot with a pond lurking on the right and a large fairway bunker on the left. The green sits ominously close to this same pond, demanding the golfer pay close attention to the third shot to the green.  There is ample room to bail out left, but doing so will require creative chipping skills.  This hole’s name pays homage to an old spooky oak (now gone) that often served as a perch for some of the beautiful bald eagles that grace our community.

Hole #4 – Big Bite
This par 4 may test some nerves. The fairway runs adjacent to a pond along the left side of the landing area that begs the golfer to chew off the corner for a shorter approach shot.  An aggressive bunker complex guards the green, but there is a small runway for a low trundling approach shot to find the putting surface.  If you carry bug spray, you may want to apply it before playing this hole because its location near the Manatee River makes this a favorite lunch spot for Ceratopogonidae, also known as No-see-ums.

Hole #5 – Green’s Grove
This par 3 is unique from all other par 3’s at River Strand because of its length and because of the orientation of the green.   The large green is wider than deep, requiring accurate distance control from the tee.  Wetlands essentially surround this hole, but gentle run-offs lessen the pressure to hit the perfect tee shot.  Par can be saved, but a sharp short game is required.  This hole’s name is a “Thank You” to our renovation architect, Andrew Green.  
Hole #6 – Split Decision
There’s plenty of room to air out your driver on this medium-long par-4, but be mindful of the large fairway bunker that bisects the double fairway. The variety of strategic options make this a wonderful golf hole. The elevated green will accept shots from left, right, or center of the hole. Bunkers are set parallel to play on the left and across the line of play to the right – giving additional thought to the approach shot.

Hole #7 – Snake Eyes
The large landing area is broken up with a set of “eyeballs” looking back at you. Avoiding these strategically placed bunkers is crucial to carrying the sliver of wetland on the approach shot to the green. A tee shot that goes far right will likely require a second shot that must clear a tall oak in the center of the wetland noted above. The swales, on the left and right, highlight the pedestal green framed by a beautiful backdrop of mature pines, oaks, and palms. Estuary 7 is one of the most beautiful and challenging par 4’s in River Strand!

Hole #8 – The Cape
No time for a breath. This par 4 is certainly no pushover and although the yardage indicates it is shorter than its two predecessors, it’s often into the wind.  A big drive needs to cut or hover near the pond that hugs the entire left side of the hole.  This same pond can come into play on the approach shot.  In addition to the water, bunkers protect the green on the left and right. From a distance, the green may appear closer than it truly is, so pay attention to your yardage. This green has several strategic pin locations available that require precision in the approach shot. Bogey is not a bad score if the wind is blowing on the cape.

Hole #9 – Home Stretch
Smart tee shots favor the left side of this par 5. The largest of all the ponds on the course runs along the entire right side of the hole. The extra-wide fairway bottlenecks beyond the landing area between a large cross bunker and the pond. Carrying the cross bunker on your second shot will afford the player a clear view into this ample green. The green is guarded by a single bunker, inviting the long knocker to use it as an aiming point when going for the green in two.  If the hole is played more traditionally, the third shot approach often requires a short carry over water.  Ample collection areas beyond the green have been designed to lessen the stress of having to hit the perfect approach shot.  Estuary 9 is a good finishing hole that offers equal opportunities for birdies and bogies.  Now take a quick moment to soak in the beautiful atmosphere that surrounds this green, because you’ve just finished one of the more challenging stretches of golf in all of Southwest Florida.