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Mark Saltzman

  • Karma: +0/-0


I had the great fortune to visit Rivermont County Club last week as the guest of a very generous GCAer.  What a wonderful golf course!  It is pure fun and shows just what a local private club could be and should be.  The bunkering is simple and strategic -- imparting 1/2 shot penalties if found.  The greens are varied in shape and size -- the one constant is that every single green is fun.  Some have wild internal contours, some rely on tilt, many are angled, and nearly all encourage a running approach.

Some have said that Rivermont is a great local, private club, but not a top-100 type course.  Honestly, I say, 'why not'?  Every single shot is compelling and thought-provoking.  Even after several inches of rain a few days earlier, and sub-freezing temperatures the past few nights, the golf course was in near-perfect condition, allowing for running shots -- the maintenance meld was a perfect fit for the architecture.  Aside from Peachtree, I've now played all 'top-100 contenders' in the Atlanta area, and without a second thought I'd return to Rivermont over any of them.  So, to those who disagree, why isn't Rivermont a top-100 course? (and I'll spot you the fact that it is a very difficult walk).

It's not surprising that a club owned by a GCAer has attracted so many GCAers as members.  Golden Age strategic design is alive and well at Rivermont.

I'm going to post my photo tour 3 holes at a time.  Photos will be from the one off the back, white tees (about 6,500 yards).  The tips can now stretch to near 7,200 yards.

The opening par-4 is demanding from any set of tees, but is a monster from the back tees (pictured below).  From the tee it is clear that this green is best approached from the left, but a stream running down that side of the fairway, combined with the fairway's leftward tilt, make it difficult to play for anywhere but the right side.




Front pins, as pictured, can be approached from anywhere, but accessing the right side of the green is a difficult task.




The second is a 530 yard par-5.  Is that some reverse-cambre?  Why, yes it is!  Golfers are asked to play down the left side of the fairway or risk bounding through the fairway on the right.  A 3-wood from the tee, especially for those unable to get home in two, is probably the way to play this hole.




The right side of the lay-up area is guarded by a bunker that protects the ideal line into the green.  Approaches from the left will be blind, blocked-out by bunkers/mounding.




The mound on the left is a very cool feature as it lays 40 yards short of the green.  Golfers familiar with the course can use its contours to kick balls onto the green.




The contours on the 2nd green are amazing.  Depending on the pin and the shot played, the contours can either be used to funnel balls toward the pin, or you will be stuck, frustratingly watching the contours take the ball farther and farther away from the pin.






The 3rd is a mid-length par-4 that, like the 1st and 2nd holes, uses the tilt of the land to add to its strategic interest.  Golfers will want to play to the high side of the fairway to leave a preferred angle into an angled green.




A perfectly played tee shot leaves a simple approach to an open green front.




As seen from the 4th tee, the contours on the 3rd green are subtler than on the first two greens.  The green tilts generally from back-to-front, but a devilish knob on the front left corner and a shelf back-left can make for some difficult recovery shots.

« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 11:09:05 PM by Mark Saltzman »

V. Kmetz

  • Karma: +0/-0
Spectacular looking, I dig on that brown dormant grass

thank you again, Mark.

cheers

vk
"The tee shot must first be hit straight and long between a vast bunker on the left which whispers 'slice' in the player's ear, and a wilderness on the right which induces a hurried hook." -

Andy Troeger

That's an impressive looking opener!

Bruce Wellmon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Rivermont was THE biggest surprise of any course I played in 2012.
It's that good. I want to go back.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
A Cryptic Haiku

Mark Saltzman, Golfer
A Generous Atlas Guy?
Come On Now, Fess Up!
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Eric Strulowitz

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark - I've heard the same about Rivermont being a solid local track but no world beater. The many pics I have seen on this and other sites leave me scratching my head at that characterisation - does it just photograph far better than it plays? Because from the pics, one would assume it was top 100 US material - stunning site and really interesting looking holes / shots / greens. Presumably it plays quite firm in the winter too when the grass goes dormant?

To give us a sense for the quality bracket you put it in - can you (or anyone else who has played it) throw out a few course names that you consider are its equal? I keep thinking London Heathland but with wild greens when I see the pics - I'm not sure how many heathland courses you've played but does it have that type of feel?

Can't wait to play it in April!

Hi Brian

Having played Rivermont on several occasions, I can tell you that it plays just as well as it photographs.  Having played several healthland courses south of London, yes I would say that many holes on Rivermont have a healthland-like feel. 

The redesign of this course is just amazing.   It is a track that from the tips and some good rough grow in, would challenge the best.  I think the par 3's are among the best this city offers.     The first par 3 is as good a redan as you get.  But the last par 3 is a really amazing hole.  You shoot from the top of a cliff, it is a huge vertical drop.  The green looks closer than it is.  Everyone always underclubs.   Almost everyone I see play that hole is short, including myself, not next time!!

If I lived closer to Rivermont, I would join in a heartbeat.  It is a hidden gem and a great deal.  Can't wait to go back!

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
It is fun golf, that is for sure!!
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
It is fun golf, that is for sure!!

I haven't played Rivermont, but certainly want to.
The pictures over the years have certainly intrigued me.
Given the architectural wasteland that is Atlanta, it stuns me that it not more well known and appreciated outside this site.
But that's a good thing for prospective members ;) ;D
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Jeff

I agree that in Atlanta, specifically, it is shocking that this course doesn't get more local love.  I think a big part of it is a lack of a connection to Bobby Jones.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Keith OHalloran

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mac,
How much of Rivermont flying under the radar can be attributed to people not knowing about the renovation? When I first went to play there, some people that live very close thought that it was not a great course.  I had to explain to them that work had been done and it was a different course than they were thinking of. When you play golf in Atlanta, how many people know that Rivermont was greatly improved in the last decade?

Chris Cupit

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark,

I'm glad you enjoyed the course.  We have been pounded with rain lately so I'm glad the course stilled played OK.  Here were some summer pics as well from 1-3:

#1 in the summer--similar to Mark's picture:

#1 again:

Standing on the back tee on #1.  You did hit over practice putting green a bit!  Tees are about 445-450 but downhill--hole was designed for a 7-9 iron approach.  Tees are 446, 378, 323 and 303  The 378 tee is the one with the trash can/ball washer next to it.

Back of #2 Green:

#3 from the right rough about 80 yards short of the green:

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Keith...

I think you are correct. 

I also wonder if a lot of golfers don't understand/appreciate strategic design. Rather they are influenced by popular opinion, status quo.  For example, would a typical golfer be "wowed" by Seminole if they did go in with prior knowledge of how highly it is regarded.  The same can be said for many strategic, but not overly eye-poppingly beautiful golf courses...maybe The Old Course is another example of that concept.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Eric Strulowitz

  • Karma: +0/-0
It is fun golf, that is for sure!!

I haven't played Rivermont, but certainly want to.
The pictures over the years have certainly intrigued me.
Given the architectural wasteland that is Atlanta, it stuns me that it not more well known and appreciated outside this site.
But that's a good thing for prospective members ;) ;D

Not sure if Atlanta is an architectural wasteland per se, but I will say that as far as knowledge about architecture goes, most golfers here seem to care less..  Many folks here cannot name golf courses outside of their county.  Try and conduct a conversation about golf designers or courses around the world, you very quickly loose your audience.  If you mention Pine Valley, amazing that over 90% of those I know or have met have no idea about Pine Valley or where it is located.  If you bring up "links courses" all you hear is cow pasture.   If you bring up Augusta, that they know, that is about it, and that is the measuring stick that many Georgians use in appraising a golf course.  Green fairways, fast greens,  bring up architiecutre, you might as well be talking about doctorate  level calculus.     Most could not  tell you who Pete Dye or Donald Ross  is, or any top name designer  and if you mentioned a "Redan" they might think you are talking about some car dealership.  My home course is an archtectural gem, many interesting features, don't dare bring it up, they could care less.  The nuances and strategic aspects of course design are not even a secondary consideration here, they have no concept.  They just want Augusta green and  fast putting surfaces.

So it does not surprise me that the word about Rivermont has not spread from an archtiectual standpoint.  Very few here are impressed by architecture, t hat is not a chief selling point of golf..  Seldom comes up in the conversation.    Those that habitate this group are surely special in that regard, but not an even remote barometer as to what charcterizes the average golfer in this market.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 09:30:59 PM by Eric Strulowitz »

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
flags in the winter, baskets in the summer?
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Mark Saltzman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark - I've heard the same about Rivermont being a solid local track but no world beater. The many pics I have seen on this and other sites leave me scratching my head at that characterisation - does it just photograph far better than it plays? Because from the pics, one would assume it was top 100 US material - stunning site and really interesting looking holes / shots / greens. Presumably it plays quite firm in the winter too when the grass goes dormant?

To give us a sense for the quality bracket you put it in - can you (or anyone else who has played it) throw out a few course names that you consider are its equal? I keep thinking London Heathland but with wild greens when I see the pics - I'm not sure how many heathland courses you've played but does it have that type of feel?

Can't wait to play it in April!

Brian,

I visited Atlanta in what must have been the second worst week of the winter.  The week before there was something like 3 inches of rain, and then when I was there I got to play in wind chills that were in the low 30s.  Still, the fairways did have some bounce to them.  Around the greens running shots were a definite option.

I've played a few heathland courses.  The greens at Rivermont are certainly wilder and the terrain more extreme than on the heathland courses I've played.

I'd put Rivermont in the same category as courses like Concession, Black Diamond, and Promontory (Dye).

I just keep trying to figure out where Rivermont falls short of being a top-100 course.  Literally shot after shot after shot is interesting.  A couple of potential knocks: (1) the back-nine has some long/awkward transitions and the transition from 9-10 is very long, making walking a bit of a challenge; (2) housing around the course, though never narrowing corridors or intruding on lines of play; (3) extreme greens are not for everyone, but imo part of what makes the course so darned fun and interesting; (4) the course does not hit the visual highs that some top-100 courses have, even if the holes are as, if not more, interesting and strategic.

Chris Cupit

  • Karma: +0/-0
.

Keith OHalloran

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark,
Which current top 100 course would you remove to make room for Rivermont?
You have seen the rating criteria for GD and GW, do you think Rivermont would be favored by one of the criteria?

Mark Saltzman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark,
Which current top 100 course would you remove to make room for Rivermont?

You have seen the rating criteria for GD and GW, do you think Rivermont would be favored by one of the criteria?

Keith,

No need to name names here!  Let's just say that I would return to it over 3 courses currently in the top-50 GW modern.

Hmmm I hadn't thought about which magazine criteria would favor Rivermont.  But now that I have, Golfweek.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark and Mac

Does Rivermont make an effort to court raters from any magazine?

Has it had enough raters come through to qualify for rankings?

Now a rant: if a long transition is cause to degrade a course, then the ranking is fraudulent. We're not speaking of miles across land-mined territory (or even Brer' Rabbit's briar patch,) but a bit of a walk up a path. I do understand the other points, although they are a bit frustrating as well.
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Mark Saltzman

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark and Mac

Does Rivermont make an effort to court raters from any magazine?

Don't know, I played as the guest of a member.

Has it had enough raters come through to qualify for rankings?

Again, not sure, but I don't think so.

Now a rant: if a long transition is cause to degrade a course, then the ranking is fraudulent. We're not speaking of miles across land-mined territory (or even Brer' Rabbit's briar patch,) but a bit of a walk up a path. I do understand the other points, although they are a bit frustrating as well.


Keith OHalloran

  • Karma: +0/-0
Ron,
Have you played Rivermont?  Was this another round with Mac?

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Hey, Keith.

I have not played it. I know that Mac is a member so I directed my inquiry to him as a member and to Mark as a guy I respect (from personal experience) for his ability to "get" a course in one playing.
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Keith OHalloran

  • Karma: +0/-0
Ron,
I thought you were defending the walk from 9 to 10, so I figured you played it. Mac has been very generous in the past, so I figured that was the connection. I am sure if you make it to Atlanta and play Rivermont, you will love it, it is a great course with an excellent set of greens. Chris knows exactly what is important at a Golf Club.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Hey, Keith.

I believe my pal Kevin played it with Mac. I was indeed addressing the walk from 9 to 10, any walk for that matter, as being completely unrelated to the worth of the course. Mark mentioned it (among others) as awkward transitions and potential demerits in a hypothetical ranking. To quote the philosopher Peter Griffin, that really grinds my gears. A walk from green to tee has nothing to do with the golf course.
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark and Mac

Does Rivermont make an effort to court raters from any magazine?

Has it had enough raters come through to qualify for rankings?

Now a rant: if a long transition is cause to degrade a course, then the ranking is fraudulent. We're not speaking of miles across land-mined territory (or even Brer' Rabbit's briar patch,) but a bit of a walk up a path. I do understand the other points, although they are a bit frustrating as well.

Hey Ron,

I'd venture a guess that any courting of raters done by Rivermont is me having friends come play with me, as a lot of my friends are raters.  I don't think Kevin is a rater, but he might be (I can't remember)...however it is situations like that (a GCAer friend in town) that most likely yields the bulk\entirety of rater courting that goes on at The 'Mont. Which is probably best...

Have there been enough raters come through?  Most likely, no.  But that is fine.

Regarding long walks affecting ratings...i'd say it should impact any routing scores, if that is a criteria.  Regarding the quality of the individual holes and shots, Rivermont should score very highly on those criteria.  It all comes down to what each individual values and enjoys on a course to determine where it would rank.   
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

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