Playin' the Peak Season

Hot deals for cool summer fun

Published in the May 2009 Issue Published online: May 21, 2009

Having trouble figuring out where you’re going to play this summer?

If not, you’ve either found a course that is perfect for you, or you’re just not paying attention to what’s available.

As we noted a few issue ago, we figure there are easily 500 places to play in the Mountain West region (minus the Denver and Vegas markets). This vast tract of the American golf landscape is loaded with great golf opportunities. So many, in fact, that we can count ourselves lucky just to sample are lative handful of them in the confines of an Intermountain summer.

Time is precious, so read on and let usknow what you think.

Buffalo Hill

Of the eight major golf facilities in Montana’s majestic Flathead Valley, Buffalo Hill stands out—mostly because it has a number of outstanding attributes—not just one or two interesting features—that set it apart.

Buffalo may be an older course, but unlike those that have been overshadowed by the razzle-dazzle of modern course architecture, Buffalo still stands on it own as a championship track of any era.

It’s original nine (built in 1936) and later added 18 (est. 1978) comprise a tight layout in some places and generously wide approaches in others. Sharp doglegs are common, especially the right-to-left variety.

The course is not only a favorite with the locals and within golf media circles, but also with competitors vying for statewide and regional titles. Buffalo has hosted a number of state amateur tournaments in the past, and will undoubtedly host more in the future.

Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club

You could say that the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club has applied some special meaning to the phrase,“going for the green.”

Already renowned for its highcaliber
amenities and challenging
course design, this unique high
mountain was the recipient of some
breathtaking upgrades through the
summer of 2007, including a unique clubhouse
that represents the cutting edge of environmentfriendly
Considering the extended flurry of golf
development in this neck of the woods over the
last decade or so, it’s easy to overlook the fact
that the original Jackson course took shape back
in 1963. The course was later redesigned by
Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and has since become
synonymous with Wyoming’s majestic views of
the Grand Tetons.
This 18-hole course, host to multiple USGA
National Championships, has been consistently
ranked as one of the top courses in the state of
Wyoming and in the country by mainstream golf

University of Idaho

The University of Idaho’s golf
course—now known as “The Club at
Idaho”—is a very challenging par 72.
It was originally designed by Francis L.
James, and constructed in 1933 as a
nine-hole facility. In 1968, the course
was redesigned by Bob Bolduck and
nine more holes were added.
The front nine of UI golf course is a
par 37 with three par fives. It plays at 3,117 total yards from the middle tees, 3,344 yards from the back tees, and 2904 yards from the front tees.
The back nine is a par 35 with only one par five, but it’s equally challenging because of two long par three holes. (The 17th hole is particularly brutal, playing 232 yards uphill with out-of-bounds staring at you along the entire right side of the hole.) The middle tees’ total yardage is 3,037, the back tees’ make a sum of 3,293, and the front tees’ play at 2,866 total yards.

Jug Mountain Ranch

Already well on its way to becoming a Northwest vacation
landmark, this relatively young golf resort near McCall, Idaho, has
carved a reputation as one of the hottest golf vacation communities
in the region. Opened in 2004, the 18-hole public golf course at
Jug Mountain Ranch is the perfect combination of challenging play,
spectacular views and varied terrain.
The course was designed by Donald Knott whose previous work as
project architect for Robert Trent Jones II Group included the widely
acclaimed Links at Spanish Bay (Pebble Beach), Rancho La Quinta,
Sun Valley Resort, and more than 60 other courses around the
world. Jug Mountain Ranch also offers one of area’s finest practice
facilities, including a large driving range and practice green.
The ranch’s restaurant has gained quite a reputation for its
delicious food and spectacular setting. Sit outside on the patio and
enjoy the view while dining on delicious homemade dishes and
desserts served for lunch and dinner, or cocktails from the fully
stocked bar.

Coeur d’Alene Resort

The traditional crown jewel of the Idaho Panhandle is, without question, the worldrenowned
Coeur d’Alene Resort. Complimentary massages, a forecaddy at your beck
and call, a rough that looks more like your home course’s fairway—that’s the Coeur
d’Alene Resort for you. This single course has probably done more to popularize
“panhandle recreation” than any other course or resort in the region. Few avid
golfers haven’t at least heard of The Coeur d’Alene’s ultimate signature hole—the
14th and its famous floating green. Depending on the day, this massive foam-based
structure can be anchored anywhere from 100-175 yards off shore, and can only be
reached by boat (compliments of the resort, of course).
Even without this novelty, however, the resort course stands as one of the most
immaculate layouts in the West. It has received numerous accolades over the years
for both its golf and its ancillary services.

Old Works

This par 72 wonder is a diamond in the rough, to say the least. In an area once
heavily utilized for mining operations, the western Montana town of Anaconda now
has a new precious product in the form of a first-class golf course.
There are several reasons Old Works is so unique. It is the first and only course
built on a Federal EPA Superfund site. It is the only Jack Nicklaus signature course
in the state of Montana, and the course is owned by Anaconda Deer-Lodge County,
making it one of only a handful of Nicklaus signature publicly owned golf courses.
The course incorporates many elements from Anaconda’s historic copper smelter on
site including black slag in all of the courses bunkers, making for a stunning contrast
to white bunker sand found on most other golf courses.
The slag, a by-product of the copper smelting process, is fairly easy to play from.
The material is fairly dense and therefore very seldom will you get a ball to plug or
bury. The local golf sages recommend that when playing here you should use a sand
wedge with little bounce. A typical greenside bunker shot should be played taking a
bit less sand and being firm down and through the shot.

McCall Golf Club

This city course in its mountain setting was an original inspiration for the magazine you are reading. McCall’s namesake layout is the epitome of “mountain golf” for its pine-tree corridors, abundant resident wildlife and surrounding recreational opportunities. Payette Lake and the upper reaches of the Payette River make this area a first-class summer destination.

For years, we made the occasional pilgrimage toMcCall to play its original 18 holes, which have since been reordered and incorporated into an elaborate 27-hole setup. There are three distinct nines to chose from—Aspen, Birch and Cedar. Any combination will do, but for best results…play all three! Summer temperatures in the McCall area range between 75 and 85 degrees with clear skies and no wind to speak of. Sound like a dream come true? It is, and it’s economical, too.

Falcon Crest

Recently tagged as one of the top five golf experiences in the state of Idaho, Falcon Crest has created a huge fan base in a short amount of time. Easily accessible off Interstate 84 in the Boise area, the facility is much more than one course. It also offers a nine-hole executive course called Robin Hood, as well as a 30-acrepractice facility including driving range, an18,000-square-foot practice green, practice bunkers, private lesson areas and more.

With majestic vistas of the Boise valley and surrounding mountains, and a course design that blends the natural terrain with water, grass, sand and stone—each hole makes for a memorable experience. One of our favorites is also one of the most difficult—the par-four seventh hole. This 426-yarder is a dogleg-left that squeezes into a tight canyon-flanked landing area and into a narrow green surrounded by water. Beautiful, but potentially deadly.

Circling Raven

After a single round on this top-class track in Worley, Idaho, you will quickly conclude that it’s one of the best course designs in the West. Judging from the accolades it has received from major golf and mainstream media outlets, this reputation is growing with every round played.

Circling Raven was conceived by famed golf course architect Gene Bates to blend with nature, not compete against it. All inclusive pricing includes: Carts, GPS yardage systems, 25 acres of practice facility and complimentary range balls.

The player’s experience is that of a links-style course, but in a private wooded setting. On the back nine, the only hole you’ll see is the hole you’re playing.

Wetlands impact play on 13 holes, natural Palouse grasses complement the wetlands on12 holes and a mix of Ponderosa Pines, Aspens, Cottonwoods and Birch blend into the scenery throughout. The blue grass fairways and bent grass greens are closely manicured, as would be expected at a premier resort golf course.

Pinecrest Golf Course

Established in 1936 in eastern Idaho, Pinecrest is a just as much a piece of regional 20th Century history as it is a golf course. Built as a public works project, the course had a modest beginning as a small country club with sand greens and sparse to nonexistent landscaping. With the advent of dambuilding in a mountain valley up the highway at Palisades, hundreds of pine trees were relocated to Idaho Falls and planted on the course. Today, those trees define the course, which winds and rolls into apar-70 layout that many players consider to be the finest municipal track in the Northwest.

It offers monster par-fours, a number of doglegs and tree trouble on just about every hole. Pinecrest has hosted numerous state amateur championships as well as a handful of regional and national competitions over the years.

Most impressive of all, perhaps, is the price. Just be sure to call two days in advance for a tee time.