60 Years at Riverside Golf Course: A Diamond in the Rough


Regarded as one of the best municipal courses in the world, Riverside Golf Course is celebrating 60 years of exceptional golf played alongside river valley creatures and ball-thieving squirrels.

Officially opened in 1951, Riverside was built on the site of the old Dawson Mine which provided Edmonton’s coal for many years.

In fact, many of the numerous dips in Riverside’s fairways are the result of the settling of the mine’s tunnels, giving golfers a slightly new challenge year after year.

Norm Seehagen, who has played at Riverside Golf Course since its opening, told the Edmonton Journal in an interview, “Two weeks after the sod was put down we were playing golf.”

“The course was longer and much narrower than it is now,” Nick Balash, 82, told the Journal. “And the rough was a lot thicker.”

Riverside 18th Hole EA-160-1535 jpeg

Riverside was such a favorite in its early years that its original golfers, called the Riverside Rats, lined up at 2 a.m on Thursdays to get tee times for the weekend. The dedicated golfers would pitch tents and camp out in sleeping bags.

The calibre of golf at Riverside has produced many professional golfers over the years. And not to be forgetten, the Riverside Ladies, were not to be out done by the men.

In the spring of 1954 Mrs. Paris Willey (wife of the Head Professional at Riverside) organized 14 women to start the Riverside Ladies’ Club. The Ladies League hosted the Edmonton Open Golf Tournament in 1956 and has been members of the Edmonton, Alberta and Canadian Ladies’ Golf Associations since inception of the club.

“This place is filled with stories,” says Bob Weatherby in an interview with the Edmonton Journal.

One such story is the claim that Riverside member, John Elligott was golfing with his wife Ruth, ( President of the Ladies League in 1969 and 1970)  his daughter Barbara, (active member of the Ladies club) and his son John Junior, when the family foursome completed a feat few could imagine. They scored a hole in one, birdie, par and a bogey to give them a 1,2,3,4 on their scorecard.

Riverside from Across River EA-20-978 jpeg

If you’d like to become part of the Riverside Golf Course’s history, golf challenges and special pricing will be available the week of August 22, 2011, in celebration of Riverside’s 60th anniversary.

So lace up your golf shoes, throw your golf bag over your shoulder and come down to Riverside Golf Course and see what the City of Edmonton has to offer.