This page is the beginning of a project to document the history of the Riverside Golf Club. If you have any photos, newspaper articles or whatever that could be useful for this project please let us know. Thanks to Michael Holcroft for supplying this starting page. There are more old photos here
The 1930’s were a boom time for golf. Despite a world-wide recession, golf was really gaining popularity.
By 1934, the year that Horton Smith won the first US Masters, there were already a number of golf clubs operating in Sunraysia. These included Mildura, Red Cliffs, Merbein, Merbein Central and Wentworth.
A group of members from the Mildura Golf Club decided to seek out a location “more suited to the establishment of a golf course” than the land that they were occupying.
The flood plains of Sandilong Park were targeted. The group lead by the, then, Shire of Mildura Engineer; M.K.N. (“Joe”) Johanson, reported back to the Mildura Golf Club Committee that the land could be obtained on (Crown) lease.
A number of Mildura Golf Club Members showed much reluctance to the move. The Mildura Golf Club already owned the land upon which the Mildura Golf Club was laid.
The refusal of the membership to commit to a move, caused a split in the ranks. Those Mildura members who voted to stay in the existing location, designed a furrow irrigation system, that saw the fairways “almost completely covered with grass for the first time”.
The Break Away Group forged ahead, one strongly suggests using the machinery of the Shire of Mildura and “Susso” labour, from the Sustenance Benefits system (an early “Work for the Dole” program).
On 27 April 1935, the Sunraysia Daily carried the story of the Opening Day. Mr Fred Thompson, golf professional was invited to the opening. Mr Thompson was later the club professional at the Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide.
Warm praise of the recently formed Riverside Golf Club's links, to be officially opened today, was offered yesterday by Mr. Fred. Thompson. the well-known professional and country representative of A. G. Spalding and Bros. after he had played over the course.
"I can only describe the course as wonderful. It is certainly the best I have played on in the country - and I have played many." said Mr. Thompson. "I cannot speak too highly of it." and the club is to congratulated upon its enterprise. The course should have a wonderful future.
One of the features of the course. Mr. Thompson added. was the fact that there no two holes alike. and that the short holes were natural. The course was decidedly difficult to score on, owing to the the natural hazards, and every shot had to be played.
Mr. Thompson. who was invited to Mildura for the opening of the links, is supervising the final preparation of the course.
Mr Thompson played an Exhibition match on 4 May 1935 to attract people to the course. The Sunraysia Daily (on 20 May 1935) reporting that 200 players and spectators were in attendance, and upwards of 150 attending play the following Sunday.