I’m sure by now that most people have gotten the news, Riverbend Golf Club in Ormond Beach, FL has closed. For those of us that are avid golfers in the area, this is very bad news. It brings the 4th golf course closure to the area in just the last 3 years and leaves just two public courses to play in Ormond Beach. One in the extreme north of the city and almost in Flagler, Halifax Plantation and the other in the extreme south of the city and I believe just outside of city lines and actually would be considered county, Riviera Country Club.
I remember the first time I played Riverbend the year after it opened. I wasn’t a very good golfer, in fact I wasn’t even a golfer. I went on Christmas Eve with my friend Jeff from high school and his older brother Glenn. At the time, I was amazed by the course. I hadn’t played a course that wasn’t surrounded by houses like most of the other courses in the area. Riverbend had a fantastic and challenging layout immersed in nature. For high handicappers you better make sure that you had enough balls, because on that course you definitely needed them. One of the biggest mistakes I felt the course made was not to mark most boundaries as hazard, they made this correction the last 2-3 years or so, but would have increased pace of play over the years with red stakes and red lines, lining all wooded areas on each hole.
I made sure to go back and play one more time just before Christmas, in case they never reopen. It was my last chance to birdie number 8. The only hole I never birdied on the course, unfortunately my tee shot hit just short of the fairway bunkers on the left and rolled across the cart path, not to be found. It was over without even a put at it. I did have success on quite a few of the holes on the course though the years, with eagles on 1, 4 and two on 13, plus a hole in one on 17!
I remember the Wednesday night golf league very fondly, it split the work week perfectly. Going out for match play and playing skins and pins with a great group of guys and having a few cold beers on a hot summer night. All of these league players will have to find new courses and leagues to play in 2021 sadly. My league partners over the years still play with me on Saturday mornings occasionally and we have a skins and pins game adapted from that league.
My hope is Ormond Beach will find a way to reopen the Riverbend Golf Course as a true muni course. We have a few other muni’s in the area including Daytona Beach, Port Orange and New Smyrna. These cities see the value of providing an affordable municipal course to their residents and I think Ormond Beach should too.