Golf goes high-tech in Portland: New Riverside app books tee times and posts to the leader board

Golf. When the weather’s nice, it’s an opportunity to stroll along the rolling green hills, have a leisurely conversation with friends or business associates, occasionally whack a little white ball and unplug for a bit.

Riverside Golf Course (City of Portland pic)

Then again, the city-owned Riverside Golf Course is making it very enticing to stay plugged in. You can still stroll along the nice landscape, chat with colleagues and whack balls, but now you can follow your progress along the course using a new free app for your mobile device.

The same smartphone that allows you to check emails, read the BDN, update your meeting schedule and pretend to slice flying fruit with a ninja sword can now be golf-ified.

With the new Riverside app, you can schedule a tee time, track your score and post to the course leader board, and — according to a recent city announcement — even place orders for snacks at the course restaurant Through the Woods. The app is free and can be found in the Apple App Store.

The introduction of the app comes during a tech renaissance of sorts at city hall, where they’ve implemented an electronic permit application program that can be accessed from the field through mobile devices by city inspectors. A movement has also long been afoot to make the METRO bus arrival times trackable in real-time through your phone.

The Riverside app also adds to what’s been a big year for the publicly owned course. Just two months ago, city officials announced they’d continue operating the course in-house after spending several months flirting with the idea of privatizing the operation.

The 81-year-old Riverside was then joined with three other area courses — Val Halla in Cumberland, Dunegrass in Old Orchard Beach and Nonesuch in Scarborough — to form the Greater Portland Golf Association, offering multi-play passes to access the different courses.

A city announcement proclaims that renovations on the North Course at Riverside — new locker rooms and a meeting room at the facility — are complete and work to build a new pro shop on the South Course is underway.

Perhaps the biggest recent announcement regarding Riverside is, of course, the introduction of PGA pro Nick Packard as the course’s new head golf professional.

More on him from the city announcement here:

Nick Packard first took up the game at the age of fourteen. By sixteen and with a three handicap, he decided to pursue a career in golf. He brings more than ten years of experience, five of which as a PGA member to Riverside.  A graduate of Methodist University’s Professional Golf Management Program, he has worked as a golf professional at some of the country’s top clubs and resorts including the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, Red Sky Golf Club in Vail, Colorado, NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, Southampton Golf Club in Southampton, New York, and TPC River’s Bend in Cincinnati, Ohio. Packard will provide private and group lessons as well as work with golf course staff to develop programs to expand the diversity of golfers at Riverside including programs for woman.

Here’s a statement by Packard issued by the city:

I had the good fortune to grow up around the game. I have seen every side of the golf course from caddying, to cleaning carts and even bussing tables to teaching and playing at some of the premiere clubs in the country. I’m excited to return home and be part of re-establishing Riverside Golf Course as a premier destination in Southern Maine. The location, community feel and rich tradition made Riverside the right place for me.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.