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Local golf course to be honored by BE Chamber

By Staff | Jan 20, 2019

Mike McNerney stands by the Riverside sign in this photo taken at the start of the remodeling projects at the course.

The Riverside Town & Country Golf Club, located between Blue Earth and Winnebago, is the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce’s “Business of the Year.”

Nominated by Chamber members for the past three years, one of the oldest nine-hole golf courses in the state of Minnesota has officially received the title due to their ongoing improvement and additions to the course’s clubhouse, along with their ability to reach out to the community. This golf course’s postage stamp-sized greens, narrow fairways lined with majestic oaks are really what set this site apart from other courses in the area.

However, according to Mike McNerney, RTCC board president, the course will be showing a different look next year and the years to come.

This past fall, the Riverside Town & Country Club was hit by the strong 80-mile-per-hour winds and tornadic activity which struck down over 100 trees on the historic golf course.

It was McNerney who boasted of the leadership of the course superintendent Josh Bruellman and his volunteer crews at the course who worked 10-hour days to try and clean up the mess.

“He has done an exceptional job working with all the volunteers and transforming our greens to some of the best in the area,” says McNerney of Bruellman. “Josh is very knowledgeable in herbicides and pesticides which enables the course to stay green and healthy all summer long. The tornado that hit Riverside this past fall, which shut us down for the year due to all the damage, would have been worse if it wasn’t for Josh and our volunteers. They worked day in and day out for over two months to get the course cleaned up so we are able to mow the tees, fairways, and greens. While it will look different in some ways, it may add some additional challenges that weren’t there before.”

McNerney was first elected to be on the RTCC board in 2012, and was elected to be president of the board in 2014. He continues to serve the board with this title.

“We’ll see what the future holds as far as continuing on as president,” he says. “It’s an elected position and our annual meeting is scheduled sometime in February. In 2014, our board created Project 21, a coordinated effort by many members to do yearly projects to make upgrades to the club house. The goal is to be completed before our 100th anniversary.”

Project 21 has been making improvements to the golf course and club house every year since 2014. In 2014, a fellow board member, Rich Belau, recruited a dozen or so retired members to volunteer to help with some of the landscaping duties of the club. McNerney says these gents have exceeded all expectations and year in and year out continue to put their heart and soul into making RTCC the best course in the area, if not the state. Project 21 totally gutted and remodeled the downstairs bar and clubhouse. They added a new bar, new drywall, new carpet, and removed the old men’s lockers from the locker room and made it into a game room with pool and shuffle board tables.

In 2015, Project 21 started on the banquet hall in the upstairs portion of the clubhouse. They removed the carpet to find an immaculate hardwood floor in great shape.

“We had the floor resanded and finished,” says McNerney. “We also removed the original windows from 1947 and replaced them with energy-efficient double pane windows.”

The team also added a new deck and a door on the south side of the building before taking a two-year hiatus to allow patrons to enjoy the new updates. In 2018, Project 21 members added new TVs throughout the bar area downstairs for better viewing access to their patrons.

“We still have a couple projects on the list that will be completed before 2021,” says McNerney. “We are in the planning stage of installing a new women’s restroom and remodeling the existing men’s room to make them both more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s laws. The last project would be to do some kitchen updates to make it more worker-friendly and would allow us to serve our clientele better as we plan on continuing to increase our hall rentals for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other special occasions.”

“Mike McNerney was given the Chamber’s Area Ambassador Award at the Golf Outing in 2018 in regard to this,” says Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce director Cindy Lyon, commenting on RTCC’s club president. “We host our golf outing there annually and it is a great venue. They have had two Business After Hours events showcasing their remodeling projects. First their basement and course level and then the upstairs dining and events level. It’s a very pretty place to go.”

In 2018, it was the inaugural year for Riverside’s manager Megan Hanson-Haase, who brings many years of experience in the service industry and her customer relations are second to none, according to McNerney.

“Her positive attitude and tremendous work ethic have already paid dividends to the club with many new events scheduled this past year,” he says. “2019 is already starting to fill up, and once again, looks like it will be a prosperous season.”

Another feature to RTCC is their annual Riverpalooza event, which started in 2014.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to continue for the past five years,” says McNerney. “We wanted to have a huge event that would put an exclamation point to the end of the golf season. We try to have it a week or two after Labor Day.”

The first four years, RTCC raffled off over $20,000 in cash and prizes with only 350 tickets sold. This past year was Riverpalooza’s fifth anniversary, so they increased the stakes and raffled off over $48,000 in cash and prizes and increased ticket sales to 600.

“We have sold out tickets every year,” says McNerney. “Along with the raffle, we also provide live entertainment and incredible food for all who attend. We are already in the process of planning Riverpalooza 2019, believe it or not, September really isn’t that far away.”

From its very beginning, Riverside Town & Country Club offers a beautiful, unique landscape with plenty of entertainment for the whole family. It’s venue has been updated exponentially over the past few years, allowing for many more memories to be made on this historic site in Faribault County, certainly making it easy for citizens to see why the golf course and clubhouse has received this meaningful title of the chamber’s Business of the Year.

“On behalf of the membership of RTCC, I would like to thank the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce for this incredible award and honor,” says McNerney. “Like I mentioned to the membership, it’s nice to be recognized by others for all the hard work and dedication that our members have put into the club truly making RTCC one of southern Minnesota’s finest treasures. If you’ve never stopped out to play a round or just visit the clubhouse, I invite you all.”