History

RIVERBEND GOLF CLUB

A Short History* of the Club

Sun City Hilton Head was under development by national developer, The Dell Webb Organization.  It was developing the project much like it had developed its other Active Adult Communities in Arizona (Sun City) and it owned a key location on the East Coast in South Carolina.  Most of the land it had acquired was located on the west side of SC Highway 170, but it also owned land located between the Okatie River and SC Highway 170 to the east, now called Riverbend. Dale Webb started developing its own homes in Riverbend but by 2002-2003 it started rethinking its strategy and considered the sale of lots to retirees who wanted their own contractor to build their houses.  The acquisition of the Del Webb Organization by the Pulte Group just a bit later accelerated the change in strategy to sell developed lots to homeowners without building the houses to allow Pulte to recover acquisition cash and to earn profits more quickly.

At the same time, homeowners who were living in Riverbend were playing golf at the first (Okatie Creek Golf Club) and then the second (Hidden Cypress Golf Club) courses operated by Sun City, but they were frustrated in their inability to reserve multiple tee times in real time. They decided to look for other courses to play outside Sun City.  And yes, there were many opened and opening courses in the area.  By 2005 and 2006, the group of golfers had grown in numbers and they decided they wanted to have control of their own handicapping access. As the story goes, David Mauk investigated and found the group could file for a Class B Club membership in the USGA by filing a Constitution and Bylaws and demonstrating knowledge of the handicapping system.  The group created what they needed and were granted membership in the USGA, the birth of the Club sometime in 2005-2006.  Some of the founding fathers of the Club include Tony Proto, Tom Rogers, Harry Glass, Chuck Lynch, Will Brantley and Dave Mauk with neighbors Jerry Mathes, Terry Duffy, Bob Davis, Denny Stosak and Tom Tripp joining shortly thereafter. (Please excuse the historian for not listing other early members of the Club, if any.) The first Club Tournament took place in 2007 and Dave Mauk was proclaimed the Club Champion in stroke play. His name was the first engraved on the Harry Glass Trophy, named after the maker of the trophy.

During these early years of the Club the members enjoyed having fun with the fact that they had a golf club without a golf course or clubhouse.  Articles appeared in the Riverbend community newsletter, Tidewatch, concerning the building of the clubhouse at the Club’s course located at “Historic Barrel Landing Road” with Carolyn Mauk, wife of the president, traveling to Italy to select and supervise the cutting of Italian travertine at the quarry for use in the interior of the clubhouse. Of course, this was all in fun and the early members had a good time dreaming up extravagances for the fictitious course and clubhouse knowing all the time that it was a USGA Class B Club, a club without ownership of a course.  Also during this time, Tony Proto designed a logo for the Club and had manufacturers create patches, shirts, hats and decals. The members wore and used these items with pride in representing the Riverbend Golf Club!

The Club grew with more residents building and moving into new houses in Riverbend, membership jumping to well over 25 members by 2008.  Will Brantley was elected president of the Club and the semi-annual tournament grew to a 2-day event, separated by a weekend.  The Club held a banquet the evening of the second day of the event inviting spouses to the presentation of the awards/prize winnings.  Will and Denny Stosak joined in the effort to schedule members and tee times and start the round on Friday mornings. To promote the introduction of members to one another as the membership grew, Will and Denny used a deck of cards to randomly select the persons playing in each foursome.  Tom Rogers and Tom Tripp were picking up the duties of keeping the members handicaps with the South Carolina Golf Association and later, the GHIN system of the USGA, advising members on the system and ultimately posting the scores into the computerized system for the members. In 2012, the Club leadership had some concerns as to membership growth and they amended the Constitution and Bylaws to put a cap on membership and limited the membership to the then membership roster plus new residents.

As time passed and membership grew, the Club expanded its play days to many more courses in the Hilton Head area plus some courses closer to Savannah and Beaufort.  Will Brantley retired as the president of the Club and Tom Rogers picked up the role as well as acting as the primary contact with the handicapping service SCGA and then GHIN.  When Tom Rogers left the community to live closer to his grandchildren in Georgia, Tom Tripp picked up the mantle as president of the Club and he and Denny Stosak performed the duties of the handicap, venue, competition and tournament committees, themselves.  By 2015, Tom sought assistance and implemented an electronic election to re-form a Board of Directors for the first time in a few years.  In May 2016, at the Club’s annual membership meeting, a new Board was elected.  The Board then elected John Haas as its chair, Kevin Demeritt as President, Glenn Stewart as Executive Vice President, Jerry Sarcia as First Vice President, Jim Beck as Second Vice President, John Haas as Secretary and Bill Boothby as Treasurer.   Membership in the Club had advanced to 48 members and a membership drive has been implemented to further increase the membership for 2017.  Revisions to the Constitution and Bylaws are pending as of this writing.

The 2016 Board decided that one of the two annual tournaments planned by the Club should be a team-based event and the other continue as the stroke play championship.  The Harry Glass Memorial Tournament and Trophy will continue to be the stroke play Club Championship in the spring of 2017 while the First Annual Dennis S. Stosak Tournament and Trophy for team play is slated for the fall of 2016 as of this writing. Denny passed away after a bout with cancer and years of service to the Club as a member, officer, director and starter.

2017 Had its annual March meeting for Board Officers. Elections were held and Tom DaParma & Don Winchester were voted in to serve 2 years as Class “A” officers. The Riverbend Golf Club Board continued making Friday player participation a priority, Our Spring Dennis Stosak tournament was held and the winning team of Bill Boothby – Al Clark – Jerry Mathes  and Bob Yankes took the honors Membership showed a slight increase with many new homes being built within our gates. Our Fall, Harry Glass, tournament was held at Port Royal and John Haas took top prize. In typical fashion the trophy is held for the entire year by the winner.

2018 started off with a very unusual snow accumulation of approximately 5 to 6 inches. After the unusual freeze, the Low Country in typical fashion got back to warmer temps and our Fridays had many members back on the links. The March election of Class “B” officers had one opening and two officers seeking re-election (Glenn Stewart & Jerry Sarcia ran unopposed). Mike Lundblad was elected to fill the vacant spot. The Spring Dennis Stosak winners were, Al Clark – Lennard Wolfson – Brian Thiem and Roger Harley.  The Fall Harry Glass tournament winner was Chuck Moore who took the honors and trophy.

In March of 2019 the club voted to change its By-laws at the annual Club meeting. Guests from outside the Riverbend gates were now in position to be officially part of the Riverbend Golf Club.  Membership participation was the deciding factor for the Board. Guests could now be voted full membership by a unanimous executive Board vote. The annual meeting also made it official that  2 Class “A” officers were re-elected. Jerry Sarcia again took charge organizing our two tournaments. The Spring Dennis Stosak tournament win had a group of Wolfsen – Rutgers – DaParma and Drake winning 1st prize. Each player shared the trophy for 3 months. We also had 7 foursomes sign up for the Fall Harry Glass tournament. This years winner was Doug Buckingham. The tournament course and presentation was at the Port Royal, Barony. Doug took 1st place and kept the trophy for that year. 2019 ended the year averaging 18 plus players signing up for our Friday games. Brian Thiem took the honors playing 39 of the 46 possible Fridays. Our membership increased for the 1st time in many a year.

2020 – The Board started the year voting in 5 new members to strengthen our Friday participation.  

* (Apologies from the historian for errors and omissions in this history as it was compiled from oral recollections and stories of some of the members.)