Riverside Golf Course – Fresno CA


In 1939 the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the Riverside Golf Course and clubhouse, as well as an adjacent swimming beach and playground in Fresno.

“Riverside Golf Course was designed by Billy Bell and built in 1939 as a WPA project. This parkland-style course along the San Joaquin River, features expansive tree-lined fairways stretching over gently rolling terrain, a new lake bringing water into play on four holes and very small greens.”

– https://www.bestarticle.org/travel/championship-caliber-golf-in-fresno-ca/?expert=Carl_Spackler_II

Prior to the construction of the WPA course, a 9 hole course, built in 1926 as a private club by several wealthy farmers, existed in the spot where Riverside Golf Course now sits. During the Depression this original course went bankrupt. In 1938, local golf pro Grant Halstead was able to initiate a City takeover of the golf course and the hiring of designer Billy Bell in order to revive it as an 18 hole course. Once the WPA-constructed course was complete, Halstead’s wife and daughter would run it.

The WPA-constructed clubhouse burnt down in the 1950s.

Source notes

William R. Lawson. "Achievements, Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration, Northern California." 1940: 71.

Fresno Bee, 7/22/38 in Scrapbooks of clippings related to WPA projects in Fresno, Kern, King, Madera, and Tulare Counties, gift of Mrs. David T. Holmes, Vacaville, 1962.

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Location Info

7672 N Josephine Ave
Frsno, CA 93722

Location notes:

Coordinates: 36.840435, -119.908567

2 comments on “Riverside Golf Course – Fresno CA

  1. John Grant Nursall

    Grant Halstead was my grandfather. I wrote my Master’s thesis (USC) on his part in developing the Riverside Golf Course. I’m not sure who came up with the idea of converting the old 9-hole course into an 18-hole course, but my grandfather approached the mayor, Frank Homan, and told him that if he was going to have a city course that he, my grandfather, wanted to be the pro in charge. My grandfather was at that time the head pro at the local Sunnyside Country Club, and was very familiar with the community. He convinced the City that they should hire Billy Bell to design the course because they only had 129 acres, and it was a challenge to put in 18 holes. Bell was very clever. My grandfather and Bell were old friends from their days in the Pasadena/San Gabriel area. The original course had been owned by some members of the Sunnyside Club who lived on that side of town. The course was significantly changed in the 1960s, but CourseCo, who operates it now for the City has done a wonderful job in restoring it to its former glory. Any questions, feel free to contact me.

  2. John Grant Nursall

    I wrote a short story entitled “Only One,” which can be found on the internet. It is about my mom’s life growing up on the golf course. “Only One” is also the title of my collection of short stories which can be found on Amazon. (by J.G. Nursall)

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