At the turn of the last century, wealthy entrepreneurs from Canada would join local cattle ranchers and orange growers for a friendly game of golf in Riverside. The most exclusive course to play was Victoria Club.
Victoria Club catered to the country’s elite including Charles E. Maud, who served as the first president of the SCGA, and Frank Miller, original owner of The Mission Inn. Both Maud and Miller among others helped establish Victoria Club in 1903.
The Club still exists today, with its rich history told in photos that hang on the club’s walls. The original nine holes were expanded to 18 in the 1920s, and today the traditional course design remains intact.
The architecture of the clubhouse has been dramatically updated since its early years and honors a modern take on Victorian elegance. Outside the tri-level clubhouse features a wraparound balcony overlooking the tree-lined golf course set in the arroyo.
“The charm that was originally founded here still remains today,” says Hank Schiller, Victoria Club general manager. “The original heritage inducted in the club still exists. We have members that have been here for 60 years.”
Current Senior Tour professionals Gary McCord and U.S. Senior Open winner Don Pooley both grew up in Riverside and worked their swings at Victoria Club. Both were members of the junior golf program and took lessons from PGA Professional Cliff Moore. The current PGA professional Jeff Cross has been at Victoria for 35 years and continues the “Swing Line” teaching program established years ago.
As Victoria Club progressed, it hosted a sanctioned PGA Tour event known as the Riverside Open in 1936, welcoming Byron Nelson, Horton Smith and Walter Hagen.
“The club grew, evolved and remains exclusive,” says Schiller.
Today the country club’s membership is changing. While traditionally members have averaged in their 60s, the club is beginning to attract younger members.
Golf etiquette, dress and ethics remain. Jackets are required at Friday night dinners, and the Ladies Club and thriving swim team, tennis and junior golf programs continue to attract families.
The course is pristinely maintained and playable for all levels. Even the low handicappers can’t help but be challenged by hole No. 12, a long par-4 par with a slight dogleg right with a water hazard on the left to challenge the tee shot.