Ric Jefferies and his wife, Debbie, had the guts to forge their own path through life. The result is a fantastic golf facility of which the Jefferies’ can be proud and that accurately reflects their vision for what life should be.
Ric grew up in Corvallis. During college Ric and Debbie would take turns, one would earn a degree while the other progressed in their chosen career. When Debbie finished her master’s degree Ric was working as a course pro in North Carolina. Shortly thereafter they moved to a country club in Florida where Ric realized he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life living a country club lifestyle.
Upon expressing dissatisfaction with their current lifestyle to his wife, Debbie asked Ric what he wanted to do. Ric responded that he wanted to build and operate his own course closer to home. Shortly thereafter they were on a plane to Oregon looking for a piece of land. Ric said “we flew back and forth from Florida to Oregon several times, and we were running out of time. When I walked through the door of my house in Florida, straight off the plane from what I thought would be one of my last trips to Oregon, I got a phone call from my real estate agent. He said there was a farm that just came on the market and that I had to come check it out, so I walked right back out of the house and got on the next plane to Oregon.”
The Jefferies sacrificed nearly everything they owned and purchased the farm property. They broke ground in 1988 and by 1990 all 18 holes were ready for play. Ric would be in charge of course maintenance and Debbie would take care of the business, a true husband and wife team.
The course was built on a farm, so the land was relatively flat when construction began: a blank slate. As, Ric designed and built the course he added the topographic features and landscaping he enjoyed in a course.
While working as a golf pro in the south Ric was lucky enough to forge a friendship with Bob Cupp, famed golf course designer whose work includes Pumpkin Ridge, Crosswater, and several other courses where major championships and regular PGA tour stops occur. The wisdom Ric gleaned from Bob was applied to the construction of RiverRidge.
For Ric is was important to create a course with a “natural feel.” “Golf is a visual medium,” Ric said. “God doesn’t plant trees in a row and he doesn’t plant single trees…he doesn’t plant the same type of tree everywhere.” All of Ric’s work at RiverRidge was done with three keys in mind: “texture, structure, color.”
His efforts begat a golf course rich with variety and with an eye towards sustainability. RiverRidge is certified as an Audubon Sanctuary. All of the course management at RiverRidge is wildlife friendly and stewardship based.
Ric believes that the pains taken to change the landscape not only improved the visual appeal of the course, but also improved how the course plays. The addition of rolling hills and ponds helps with irrigation and drainage. The trees make for a variety of shadows on fairways and greens. All of this creates a more rich golf experience.
When Ric built RiverRidge he didn’t want to create a course with a “country club feel.” He wants his patrons, even members of his men’s and women’s clubs to have the opportunity to play a variety of courses. He’s even gone so far as to add two additional courses to his own golf complex; SuttonRidge, an executive course built among tall fir trees and ShortRidge, which is a par 3 where patrons can work on their short game.
Ric is passionate about growing the game of golf. He welcomes a variety of programs to RiverRidge and places a special emphasis on those that help individuals with special needs and kids. Special Olympics Oregon are guests at RiverRidge, as well as five University of Oregon classes, two Lane Community College classes, Marist, Churchill and Sheldon golf teams and The First Tee program which is dedicated to helping kids learn life skills through the game of golf. Hundreds of kids learn the game of golf at RiverRidge each year.
And if these opportunities weren’t enough, RiverRidge offers a number of promotions which encourage families to bring their kids to the course. Kids under 18 play for free if playing with a parent after 2pm on weekends. Ric also encourages parents to bring their young kids along to the par 3 course. “We want kids on the par 3, when they get tired of playing golf it’s ok for parents to let them roll down the hills and play in the sand and water: just as long as they don’t hurt the greens”!
Ric and Debbie are a fantastic team. Their desire to take a gamble and leave the country club lifestyle behind so they could raise their family in what they believed was a healthier environment is inspiring. They have succeeded in spades and now seem to take every opportunity they can find to help improve the lives of others.
Whatever type of golf you’re in the mood for, the RiverRidge Golf Complex has a course for you. The main course is a difficult challenge replete with texture and variety. SuttonRidge, built among mature firs, prompts you to leave your driver in the car. ShortRidge is a relaxing opportunity to improve your short game and spend time with your kids.
At RiverRidge golf is a vehicle, a medium through which you may quietly enjoy time engrossed in natural beauty, or in self-improvement and discipline, or improving your relationship with your family. Whatever you hope to gain through the game of golf, you can find it at RiverRidge.