City’s oldest golf course set to close

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The tombstone shaped sign that greets golfers just off the first tee says it all: Rest In Peace Riverside Golf Course 1900-2019.

With an abundance of rain this summer, the fairways were green, the tees and greens were in good shape and, for a Monday morning, the course was fairly busy.

According to the Riverside Regional Park Master Plan, the golf course will be replaced by tennis courts, a zip line, baseball diamonds, walking trails and a pool.

Closing the course and combining the land with existing parks nearby, the city intends to create more than 800 acres of park and recreation areas. The plan will take time, from 25-30 years. The price tag is $67 million.

Mike Vuynovich is part of a regular men’s golf group that plays nearly every day. This is his 58th year playing at Riverside.

“Well, things change. I’m sure the city has a plan on what to do if it is a matter of finances,” Vuynovich said.

Nicholas Allgeier, 90, said he started coming to Riverside in 1960. He will turn 91 on Thursday, and said the course used to be crowded … but not anymore.

“There are no younger guys coming out here playing,” Allgeier said.

The 13th hole at Riverside is a par 4, about 400 yards with the last 100 yards uphill to a small, unforgiving green. The hole is called “Ole’ Smoky,” the hardest hole on the course and the one everyone talks about. 

“One of my good friends father died of a heart attack up on this hill so I think of him every time I play this hole,” Thiesing said.

He said he has been playing at the course since the 1970s.

“I’m not too happy. I really think it is a shame, with our convention business in this town, if they get away, this is a close and beautiful course. I mean being 119 years old, there is some kind of nostalgia there also.”

Many of the city golf courses including Riverside are managed by a private companies. The park board will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Garfield Park to discuss the closing of Riverside Golf Course and the development of the city’s park expansion.

On Tuesday afternoon, Indy Parks sent this response:

  • The Riverside Park Master Plan started in 2017 and was approved in December 2017.
  • The Parks Board is not voting on the closing of Riverside Park Golf Course since the course was included in the master plan approval process, which occurred in late 2017.
  • With input from public meetings, two steering committees, workshops, surveys, interviews, and other outreach initiatives, the master plan identifies a 20-year implementation strategy and highlights park enhancements such as creating a new regional aquatic center, expanding the family center, restoring the Taggart Memorial, creating a Riverside Promenade for pedestrian access along the park’s east edge at Riverside Drive, and redeveloping Riverside Golf Course to other recreational uses that are more readily accessible to the general public and better positioned for the potential to generate revenue for Riverside Park.
  • The master plan contemplates the development of the golf course to parkland which could include tennis courts, a zip line, baseball diamonds, walking trails, or other uses. The plan does not identify the space as a possible pool location.  
  • On August 6, 2019, the Parks Board approved the award of the Operating Agreement for Smock Golf Course with Capital City Golf Management, LLC.  The Parks Board will revisit/discuss the award of Operating Agreement for Eagle Creek Golf Course, Coffin Golf Course and Riverside Academy with RN Thompson during tonight’s board meeting, which begins at 5 p.m.

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