Victor A. Johnson is one of the key founders the effort to bring municipal golf to Portland. His work coincided with his election as the President of Waverley Country Club which he served two consecutive yearly terms from 1915 to 1916. In 1917, was the appointed Chairman of the Committee for Municipal Golf and the key leader to the raising of private funds. Throughout the process, he is in attendance of every key meeting and would publish a regular list of people who donated money towards the design and construction of the course.
Born in 1971 in Minnesota, he attended LeHigh University and entered into the mining business, which lead him to Spokane, WA which was burgeoning region following the discovery of gold in the Coeur d'Alene region. Later he would transition to the grain business, the other main economic driver of the region.
In Portland Victor Johnson entered the woolen industry, which was also started in the prairies of Eastern Oregon and Washington, and he took over management for one of the woolen mills, much like the ones built just outside the gates of Waverley Country Club. It's quite possible these were located there for the express purpose of being close to the club.
However, Victor himself was not much of a golfer at all. Yes, he would play in some of the couples events with his champion caliber wife, though he was usually regaled to the 4th flight in most solo competitions, which means he rarely broke 90. Respectable, though not an impressive, scoring even by 1918 standards.
Victor's sport was Polo. He was the captain of the Waverley Polo team and oft quoted in the newspapers trying to rally their team to travel to nearby Tacoma CC or as far as the Western Polo Championship in Southern California. This, alas, was a trip they never made, probably on account of the immense costs and challenges it must have been to bring all those horses and players to California. Can you imagine? Riding more than 2 or 3 days on a train with all the riding gear.
Why did Victor Johnson become so involved in the cause to bring municipal golf to Portland?
Why did Victor Johnson become so involved in the cause to bring municipal golf to Portland? Well there could be a great number of reasons. Many of the captains of industry at the time began to show a keen interest in civic improvements, especially around parks and recreation. Certainly he would have attended events with other leaders from the MAAC club like John C. Conville. It's also speculated in the newspapers at the time that his interest in geology and mining was a spark for the interest in golf course architecture and he may have simply caught the bug of a golf course builder following Waverley's redesign in 1912.
There's a practical reason as well - to provide an outlet for golfers that otherwise are not members of the club. Afterall, private clubs are by their nature private, and even avid golfers of considerable skill or professional success cannot simply play golf without a advance invitation. In 1912, Jewish businessmen, like the great department store Meier & Frank, and the fledgling groceries of Fred Meyer, were unable to join the only other club in town so they purchased land to build their own private club, Tualatin Country Club. It's very possible that Victor A Johnson took on the cause for municipal golf along with co-founder of municipal golf Rabbi Jonah Wise, as an olive branch to bridge the gap between the clubs, and do the citizens a good turn by providing a golf course where everyone could play.
"Every little bit added to what you've got makes a little bit more" is the slogan of the Committee.
Victor Johnson was named Treasurer at the start by the Superintendent James A. Conville for the $1,800 fundraising seed fund a necessary before the City of Portland would appropriate $4,000 towards the construction. He was also listed as the leader of PR, so when an article was published some three days later on February 25, 1917 we only guess that Victor A. Johnson had a hand in getting it published.
Future articles will more closely track the Committee's' progress and each of leaders contributions. What's clear is that for Victor A. Johnson, this cause was his most public to date as he's not regarded otherwise in direct participation with other efforts, public or political.
Quick note, he is also listed as one of the founding members of Oswego Lake, no doubt encouraged to help fund another Chandler Egan design and bring more golf to Portland just a short drive from his home club of Waverley.
He wasn't completed with his efforts to campaign for Eastmoreland Golf Links. In 1930, he along with many of the original members of the Committee would band together to petition the USGA to have Portland host the National Public Links at Eastmoreland. Their vision would soon host the very best amatuer players of public courses in 1933.