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Club History

Since its design and construction in the mid-1920's during the original American golf boom, Riverside has consistently been ranked among the elite courses in the Pacific Northwest.  Recently, in a ranking conducted by Golf Digest publishing, a panel of golf course experts included Riverside in the top 125 Classic Courses in the Country.  Riverside exceeded their criteria as a Classic Course for outstanding design built before 1960, and its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the original course design.  Additionally, throughout the years, Riverside has been highly ranked by Golf Digest and other publications.

Beginning in 1925

The first clubhouse was built in 1926. That year the club purchased 87 acres adjoining the first nine. This land was on a lower level than the rest of the course. There was plenty of standing water. In fact, it was a swamp. Purchase had been delayed until the directors were assured of proper drainage.

The Country was in the "Roaring Twenties." Calvin Coolidge was President. Prohibition, flappers and speakeasies were symbols of the era. Charles Lindberg would soon cross the Atlantic and Babe Ruth was setting home run records.

The first clubhouse was built in 1926.

Golf had become a major sport. Bobby Jones had heightened popular interest in the game. It was a time of incredible activity in golf course construction - Columbia Edgewater, Glendoveer, Oswego, Multnomah, and Alderwood opened that summer. (Conversely, course construction came to a stop in the 30's and 40's because of the Depression and WWII).

So crowded was play on public courses that streets around Eastmoreland were lined with cars. News stories of the day reported it took six to eight hours to play eighteen holes on Sunday. Weary of slow play on public courses, a small group of golfing enthusiasts envisioned a golf club featuring inexpensive golf with private golf club advantages. Riverside was to become the realization of that dream.

The early founders had to have been super salesmen. During the membership drive that followed, there was no clubhouse, no course and after climbing a steep bank near what is now the tenth tee, prospective members viewed a wilderness of brush and weeds, which would become the first nine. They believed a second nine would eventually extend to what is now Marine Drive - thus the name Riverside was adopted. Somehow 180 individuals were persuaded to join this venture - for $200 each - and build a golf course. Once official members, the board handed them a choice: bring in another member or be assessed another $100. Jim "Scotty" Henderson designed the first nine, which is now the back nine. To develop a unique plan, each of nine prominent local golfers were asked to design what they thought was a perfect golf hole. Whether this scheme was actually carried out is unknown, but an interesting and challenging layout was the result. The course, seeded that fall and the next spring, opened July 15, 1926. An unexpected feature of the first fairway was the bumper crop of potatoes which kept coming up all summer.

The Fire of 1929

Players arriving at Riverside on Monday afternoon, August 19, 1929, were shocked to find their clubhouse a pile of glowing ashes. But by the stroke of good fortune, the disastrous fire occurred before noon on the day the insurance lapsed. The directors decided to rebuild the clubhouse on what was then the eighteenth green. The second clubhouse was dedicated in October of 1930. Though Riverside had then completed eighteen holes and a new clubhouse, the next few years would not be smooth sailing. The Great Depression hit in late '29 and during these tough economic times golf memberships dropped so sharply that many clubs carrying mortgages became delinquent and in critical financial trouble. The Spokane Savings Bank, holder of the Riverside mortgage, went bankrupt and was taken over by the State Banking Department of Washington. They realized the property had most value as a golf course and continued the club's operation.

In 1935 Raymond Toomey, J.E. Moor and Fred Zaugg led a group of members who were actively interested in buying back the club and reorganizing it. Their leadership was instrumental in clearing Riverside of debt and starting needed improvements. With a new life, Riverside was officially incorporated on May 20, 1936. The years that followed saw many improvements. The practice area was revamped, a pump was purchased to help with drainage, and the men's and women's locker rooms were redesigned. The course had never been so beautiful and the improved clubhouse seemed to keep members happy for over a decade. Then came the flood...

The Flood of 1948

On June 11, 1948, the Vanport Flood made international headlines and the fact that Riverside was submerged made the front page of the Oregonian. A three year reconstruction program began under the able direction of presidents Harold Davidson and Ray Chirgwin. It included enlarging and remodeling the club buildings and many improvements on the course.

Important Figures in RGCC History

Ray Chirgwin was a dedicated member of Riverside for over 50 years. He was president in 1948 and was instrumental in Riverside surviving the flood.

In an Oregonian story by Bob Robinson saluting our 75th anniversary celebration, he quotes longtime member Sheldon Jones: "Ray was president in 1947-48 and he was personally responsible for saving the club... He organized work parties to clean up debris, plant new trees and install an irrigation system. He kept a positive approach when it would have been easy to give up." On July 26, 1978 Chirgwin made news when he scored an ace on #11. This hole-in-one completed a chain of eighteen eagles at Riverside - one on each hole plus a double eagle on the par five 6th. Chirgwin had achieved an eclectic score (total of the best scores on each hole) of 35 - or and unbelievable 37 under par.

A leading golf course architect of that time, was retained to design the second nine - which is now the first nine. 

From longtime Riverside member Marshall Turner: "Let me tell you a little about this man. In 1904 he was a student at Harvard University when golf in the U.S. was a game for the wealthy only. Egan won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1904 and successfully defended it by winning again in 1905. By doing so he encouraged the adoption of golf by college boys, which helped to spotlight the sport as one to be enjoyed by vigorous young men...Egan moved to Medford in 1910 and became a fruit grower and golf course designer." Egan went on to redesign Pebble Beach. His work included many other Oregon courses: Eastmoreland, Eugene C.C., Oswego Lake, Tualatin, and Indian Canyon in Spokane.

Eddie Hogan was head professional at Riverside from 1939 to 1968. He possessed a flawless golf swing, abundant Irish charm and great joy for his chosen work. His flair for merchandising was legendary, and Riverside's pro shop ranked as one of the best. Hogan's dedication to Riverside was total, as was his interest in junior golf. Many fine golfers emerged from his junior program. Eddie Hogan's memory lives through the Hogan Junior Cup Matches held at Riverside every summer. They are a tribute to the inspiration he provided for many young people.

Top high school golfers from the Northwest and California compete annually at Riverside in the Hogan Cup matches. These star teenagers played in 1990 and 1976. 

Eddie Hogan and his Juniors. 
He started the longtime tradition of Junior Golf at Riverside.

Did you know?

In 1990, Tiger Woods became youngest (14) winner in the history of the Eddie Hogan Cup.

In 1991, The Oregonian named the approach shot on the 14th hole as one of the hardest approach shots for all of the Portland area courses.
Riverside has held numerous tournaments over the years. Those tournaments include:
  • The Oregon Amateur in 1940, 1954, 1962, 1972, 1982, and 1993
  • The Northwest Open in 1962 & 1984
  • The LPGA stop under a variety of names:
    • Portland Ping Team Championship in 1980 & 1981
    • Portland Ping Championship in 1984 & 1985
    • Cellular One - Ping Golf Championship in 1989