Originally known as Surrey Hills, the Riversdale Golf Club was established in 1892 and is the second oldest club in Melbourne, behind Royal Melbourne.
The club moved from its original site in Mont Albert to a new home in East Camberwell in 1907, and twenty years later to its present home in Waverley, and a property known as St John’s Wood. There a new course was designed by club greenkeeper Jock Young, the man who had designed the original nine holes at the Portsea Golf Club. Young’s course occupied a site that was 160 acres in size, but lasted only a few years because the state government extended the local rail line and forced the club to give up some land and re-route its golf course. Fortunately they were able to secure the services of Alex Russell to redesign their layout. Russell did a first-rate job at Riversdale, despite being limited by space and forced to use areas that were uncomfortably steep.
Although Riversdale is set inland from the Sandbelt, and built on clay rather than sand, the sharp, breaking greens and deep bunkering share similarities with the club’s more celebrated cousins closer to the bay. The scale of the undulations here as well as the tight tree-lined fairways and decorative garden beds are what give Riversdale its distinct parkland character. The course does get a little cramped in places and has suffered from the apparent need for back tees and added difficulty, but Russell’s better holes have survived reasonably well and this is certainly a layout that most golfers will find enjoyable to play.
Riversdale is an institution in Victorian golf and boasts a storied championship history that includes being the venue for the first Victorian Open in 1957 as well as the host of the annual Riversdale Cup, first contested in the 19th century and today played over 72 holes every March by leading amateur golfers from all around the world.