Rainbow Golf Club and the Birmann Family are Celebrating 100 Years in Greenville
In 1917 Otto and Anna Birmann were advised by Anna’s doctor that because of her respiratory issues they should move from Hillside, NJ to the country so they purchased a dairy farm, (sight unseen) in Greenville and moved here with their 3 children Charlotte, Amanda and Walter. Their friends in NJ thought it was a great place to visit to escape from the Summer heat in the city.
The Birmanns quickly realized that they could not afford to feed and house these many guests so they decided to charge a modest fee. They immediately lost half of their friends but “The Birmann House” was born, a boarding house as the area resorts were called then.
Sometime in the 1930s the name was changed to Rainbow Lodge. According to Walter Birmann, Sr. who was an avid fisherman and outdoors-man, the arbitrary name came from the Rainbow Trout.
In the years that followed Anna ran the business with her 3 children while Otto worked as a mechanical engineer. Walter married Dorothy Larkin in 1935 and they had two sons, Walter, Jr and Carl. When Dorothy died suddenly in 1955 Walter, Jr. became his father’s business partner. Carl, who was only 12 when their mother died, became a part of the business a few years later. Walter Sr. and Walter Jr. became well aware of changing times.
When the Interstate Highway System that President Eisenhower proposed became reality the visitors to Greene County and Greenville may no longer be satisfied with just 3 meals a day, a swimming pool, lawn chairs and a view of the mountains. With encouragement from some of their guests, they were convinced some changes were needed to meet a more mobile, more demanding vacation class. A golf course was designed and construction started. In 1956 they opened 5 holes and in 1958 ‘Rainbow Golf Club’ became 9 holes; being the first golf course in the area between the Capitol District and Catskill, Palenville and Windham. During the 1930’s Walter Sr’s. interest in aviation led to the opening of the ‘airport’ which to this day is still active and serves the Public.
In 1961 Walter, Sr married Ruth Turon. A few years later Walter retired and they moved to Schroon Lake, NY. Walter Jr. and his wife, Cookie along with Carl and his wife Susan operated Rainbow Lodge and Golf Club until 1976 when it was divided into two separate businesses. Carl became owner and operator of Rainbow Lodge Motel and Restaurant and Walt and Cookie continued to operate Rainbow Golf Club. Walt, with the help of his son, Tyson designed and built an additional 9 holes and in 1995 Rainbow Golf Club became a USGA 18 hole golf course.
With the opening of several other golf courses in the area it has been said that Greenville has more golf holes per capita than any other town in NYS. It has become a healthy Industry which continues to survive, add quality of life and contribute to the Tourism Economy not only to Greenville but all of Greene County.