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Golf Course Restoration and Master Plan

Golf Course Restoration and Master Plan

In 1913 three members of the Saint John Country Club borrowed $7,000 and bought 250 acres of virgin land in East Riverside and The Riverside Club was formed. It took two years to build nine holes. So popular was the game becoming that the nine hole course became congested with players and it was decided to double the size in 1920.

In 1931 the course was redesigned and lengthened by Ross, who visited the Riverside Club to inspect the course several times.

From the time of completion, the Riverside layout played host to national championships and is home to a number of champion golfers. Over time, various changes have affected the course in a way that did not match the original intent of the design. This has affected not only the playing characteristics of the course but also technical qualities such as the effectiveness of drainage, agronomic health of the playing surface, and excessive reforestation. 

In 2008, award winning and respected Golf Course Architect and Restoration Expert, Ron Prichard was commissioned to undertake a restoration master plan with the express intent of recording the steps and methods necessary to improve the agronomic quality of the course, and to illustrate and explain the work required to reestablish the classical playing character which Donald Ross intended.  

Since the beginning of the master plan, it has moved from a paper exercise which analyzed the golf course in an objective fashion to today, in 2017, which has seen many of the recommendations put into practice. As of the 2017 season, the master plan is approximately 1/4 complete. Most recently the completion of plans on the 4th and 8th holes have been met with almost unanimous approval and appreciation.

The benefits of taking the traditional approach to golf course management go beyond reverence for the past and are, in many measurable and objective ways, practical for the long term health and financial viability of the club. We must understand that many courses in North America are coming to be in excess of one hundred years old. While in Scotland, Ireland, and many other portions of the golfing world, where modest club facilities and very natural golf courses have existed for more than two hundred years with minimal upkeep expense; sometimes in North America, largely due to expectations set on TV and at resort courses, our expectations are higher, (sometimes too high and inappropriate), and as a result our golf courses are often over manicured and overly maintained. This can cause undue financial burden on clubs and in the long run can cause problems that require large capital investment to mitigate.

In the fall of 2017 the restoration continues and we are pleased to see one more step be taken towards finishing this important journey. 

"The value of Ross' hand on your golf course is the equivalent of possessing a violin crafted by Antonio Stradivari. Over the years it will always be a possession with increasing value."

Stay tuned for updates on restoration work and we hope you ejoy one of the classic Canadian Golf Courses.

Riverside Country Club Board of Directors

Posted: August 2, 2017