It was July 3, 1893 when Riverside resident William Havemeyer assembled 22 Riverside residents to form the Riverside Golf Club. What had started out as a five-hole course has become in 2018 a full 18-hole course as well as one of the premier courses in the Chicago area. It also prides itself as being the oldest Chicagoland golf facility on its original ground.
The club celebrated its 125th anniversary on Oct. 12, 2018 in a fashion deserving of its fine tradition with a dinner, and culminating with fireworks.
The club, according to its president, Michael Joss, has become a family club through the resiliency of its membership, who enjoy not only golf but socializing, fine dining and its Olympic-size pool. It also survived major fires, with the third clubhouse being built after a blaze in 1985.
Longtime families have maintained memberships through the years. The Finn family, now on its fourth generation, have been members since 1920. Joss related how since 1949 the club has awarded 121 Chick Evans Scholarships, which are full-ride college scholarship awarded to top caddies.
Karl Bollnow is the PGA golf pro for the club, a position he has maintained for 22 years, when he succeeded Bill Heald. Bollnow started as a caddy, which gives him a 47 year association with the club.
Talking with Bollnow, you learn he is also an unofficial historian for the club. Whether he is relating stories or displaying newspaper articles from years gone by, you can tell how he enjoys his position.
When speaking of the course itself, Joss termed it “challenging but fair.” It has been recognized by many PGA organizations and has held many tournaments, with many professional golfers accepting the challenge of Riverside.
Passing the Riverside Golf Club on Desplaines Avenue in North Riverside, one can appreciate its beauty and recognize its part in the history of Riverside and North Riverside. Many of the names found on plaques on the club walls are the names of people who helped shape this area.
Happy anniversary to the Riverside Golf Club and to the people who have built it from a small club with five holes to a local treasure with many claims to fame. Your history and contribution to the area have given the club a reason to celebrate.