River Island Golf Course is located in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, about 30 miles northwest of Green Bay.
It started with an idea
Once upon a time, a group of golfers from Oconto Falls tired of driving to Oconto to play. The foursome decided to build a course in their own town. They envisioned a course that would not only be good for them, it would be good for the community. In fact, why not make it a community project?
The spirit of community
The course is situated on land purchased from the Wisconsin Michigan Power Company for $1. After the site was determined, local citizens volunteered labor and equipment. Golfers, lawyers, mill workers, engineers—even children—all stepped up to build the course and clubhouse. Every Saturday a different family was assigned to feed the volunteers at noon.
“It was a lot of work for such a small town,” said Barb Nickel, long-time course historian and daughter of Charles Raymond, one of the founding foursome. “But we wanted it, and we knew what it would take to get it.” Other members of the original four included Emil Behling (whose son, Eugene, volunteered as project manager), John Meyer, and Dr. Robert Goggins.
Construction began in 1961, and the course was completed in 1963. Originally member-owned, the course is now open to the public. A Board of Directors oversees its operations. Long-time board member Stu Anderson, who joined the club with his wife in 1964, coached the high school golf team for 39 years. “I’m a golfer,” he says.
Why is it called River Island?
The Oconto River plays a prominent role in the course setting, and its meandering, rapid-flowing water is key to the course’s appeal and beauty. Some of the tee boxes are situated on islands in the river, and most holes require crossing the water. This beautiful setting on the river is one of the things we, and our golfers, love about this course.
Community involvement continues
River Island Golf Course is committed to promoting the betterment of our youth by holding fundraisers for athletic programs, programs of the arts, and scholarships for academics. These young people are the driving force of our golf course, our community, and our future.