Idaho's Wildlife Just Got a Little Wilder...
Legendary golfers Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman are building their first Idaho golf courses part of a wave of new high-end courses in every corner of the state. Nicklaus tore up Hidden Lakes in Sandpoint and replaced it with The Idaho Club, which opens this year. Norman recently started Teton Rim Golf Club, near Tetonia. It opens in 2010. And the big names keep coming.
Gene Bates, who designed Circling Raven in Worley, added to his Idaho portfolio with Hunter’s Point Golf and Country Club. It opens this year in Nampa. Tom Weiskopf is adding a course at The Club at Black Rock. Don Knott, who designed Jug Mountain Ranch, has added nine holes at Sun Valley Resort, with nine more to come. And John Thronson, who designed two courses in Central Oregon, will give Silver Mountain Resort a golfing option. Six new golf courses. Six accomplished architects. Get out your maps. These courses are going to force golfers to explore the far reaches of the state. Here’s a look at the new construction:
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley, ID • 208.622.2251
What’s new: The resort has built nine holes on the scenic and sloping grounds of the former Sun Valley Gun Club. Don Knott, who designed Jug Mountain near McCall and formerly worked for Robert Trent Jones Jr., designed the new nine. He also has designed another nine, on which the resort hopes to break ground this spring for a 2010 opening. The new edition, called the White Clouds Course—will play as a stand-alone course, separate from the famed existing 18. The next nine will join with the White Clouds Course to form an 18-hole course. The new nine is a par-36 that covers 3,640 yards. The elevation change is close to 350 feet and the brick-paver cart paths stretch for more than three miles.
The course includes sweeping mountain views, with four holes featuring 360-degree views. The property also includes five miles of paths that are used for walking and biking. And the new nine is just the start of Sun Valley Resort’s golf facelift. The resort is building a 58,756-square-foot clubhouse that should be ready this summer. The old clubhouse only had about 800 square feet of space. The stone clubhouse features 6,000 square feet of covered deck, a full restaurant and bar, locker facilities, two indoor-outdoor fireplaces, an indoor driving range and plenty of room for banquets. It will house the Nordic skiing center in the winter. “There will be a lot of things going on there,” said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley’s director of sales, marketing and public relations. The new clubhouse forced the resort to make some changes to the existing 18, long known as one of Idaho’s best. The clubhouse was built where the No. 9 tee boxes used to be, forcing construction of new tees and a new green. That hole now will be No. 1. The rest of the course was unchanged, but routing will be much different. The details have not been finalized, but No. 16 will be No. 9 and No. 8 will be No. 18. The clubhouse area also gets a new driving range—golfers will hit toward Baldy—and an 18-hole putting course called The Sawtooths.
The Club at Black Rock
Coeur d'Alene, ID • 208.665.2024
What’s new: Black Rock’s first course, designed by Jim Engh, was named the best new course in the country by Golf Digest shortly after it opened in 2003. Now the resort is building its second 18-hole course, this one designed by Tom Weiskopf, with the opening set for spring 2009. The private club overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene also will add a clubhouse for children and teens, dubbed the Kootenai (KOOT-in-ee) Camp. It features a zip line, a miniature lake, a rope swing, a miniature putting green and a movie center. The camp opens this spring.
Galena Ridge at
Silver Mt. Resort
Kellogg, ID • 800.305.7669
Expected opening: 2010
Access: Galena Ridge will be a resort course with a membership component, giving members priority.
The basics: Galena Ridge will be a Jeld-Wen golf community. The company also has built golf communities in the region at Eagle Crest in Redmond, Ore., and Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Ore. John Thronson, who designed two courses at Eagle Crest and helped Arnold Palmer with Running Y, will design Galena Ridge’s 18-hole course. “This is going to be a pretty cool course,” said Neal Scholey, the sales manager for Silver Mountain. “It’s very mountainous terrain he’s putting this thing in.”
History: Silver Mountain Resort has been a North Idaho ski area since 1968, when it opened as Jackass Ski Bowl. In the last five years, however, it has turned into more of a resort—with a master plan, gondola village, indoor water park and golf course community.
What’s unique: The course’s mountain location and frequent elevation changes will give golfers views across the panhandle. “You’ve got views from Montana to Washington,” Scholey said.
It’s not all about golf: The resort plans to open an indoor aquatic park in March 2008. It includes a surfing wave, a lazy river, water slides and a kiddie pool. “You’ll be able to go surfing and skiing in the same day,” Scholey said. “It will be the first of its kind at a resort in the Western U.S.”
Hunter's Point Golf Course
Nampa, ID • 208.250.8643
Expected opening: Mid-May 2008
Access: Private, with opportunities for others to play as guests and in community events. Hunter’s Point will host the 2009 IGA Men’s Amateur. Memberships are $12,500 or $14,000.
The basics: The first 18-hole private course in Canyon County was designed by Gene Bates, the architect behind the popular and renowned Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley. Hunter’s Point’s par-71, 7,047-yard layout includes a whopping 118 bunkers and a 90-foot-deep former gravel pit that contains the first six holes. The tees, fairways and greens are all bent grass.
History: Owners Greg and Jeanette Bullock attempted to build a golf course and subdivision in South Nampa in the late 1990s. They even had Robert Trent Jones Jr. prepare the design. The Canyon County Commission snubbed the idea, so the Bullocks came back a few years later with a new location and a new design, courtesy of Bates. “What looked like a defeat,” Greg Bullock said, “was actually a victory in disguise.”
What’s unique: Hunter’s Point is the first course in the Treasure Valley with a big-name designer attached. Greg Bullock hired Bates immediately after playing Circling Raven. “He was so comical,” Bates said. “He said, ‘I want one of those.’ That’s the first time that’s ever happened. He was like a kid. He was so excited about the whole deal.” And still is. “It exceeded all of my expectations,” Bullock said. “It’s far beyond what I thought we could do. It was Gene Bates’ creativity and ingenuity.” It’s not all about golf: Hunter’s Point will have a heavy emphasis on family—starting with the name. The course is named for the Bullocks’ young son, Hunter. The clubhouse, scheduled for construction in 2010 or 2011, will include a full-service spa, swimming pool, tennis courts, restaurant and exercise room. It also will be the jumping off point for a whole host of children’s activities, including whitewater rafting and jet-skiing.
The Idaho Club
Sandpoint, ID • 800.323.7020
Expected opening: Summer 2008. The exact date depends on the weather but should be between July 1 and September 1. Construction has been completed, but the grass is still growing in.
Access: The course will have three-tiered access. Members can play in the morning, resort guests can play in the late morning and the public can play in the afternoon.
The basics: Idaho’s first Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course will give The Idaho Club a gorgeous trifecta—the golf course, Lake Pend Oreille (PAWN-da-Ray) and the nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort. The 18-hole course will be a par-71 for men and a par-72 for women. The Pack River and a rock quarry will provide the dominant scenic features. The resort does not have a hotel. Instead, guests can rent one of the many private homes that will be built on the property.
History: The Idaho Club replaces Hidden Lakes Golf Resort, which was built in the 1980s. The new course sits on the land where 11 of the original holes were located, but this is a completely new golf course. “They wiped it clean,” said Mike Deprez, the director of golf for The Idaho Club.
What’s unique: There were rumors for years about where Nicklaus would finally build his first Idaho course. He is the biggest name in golf course design, and his name will get people to flock to The Idaho Club. “You can’t play this golf course without saying, ‘Holy cow! That was amazing,’” Deprez said. Nicklaus limited his usually prolific bunkering because of the course’s natural hazards. The Pack River will provide a watery grave for many golf balls—particularly on the 15th hole. “The Pack River is all along the left-hand side,” Deprez said of No. 15. “It’s very reminiscent of 18 at Pebble Beach, except instead of the Pacific Ocean, it’s an estuary. The backdrop is a mountain ridge.” And seven of the holes play through an old rock quarry, with rock outcroppings framing the holes for golfers. “There are five or six (holes) that are going to fight each other for the signature hole,” Deprez said.
It’s not all about golf: The 17,000-square-foot clubhouse has a log-and-rock look. The resort’s offerings will include a health spa, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a beach club, a ski club and a marina.
Teton Rim Golf Course
Tetonia, ID • 208.456.8300
Expected opening: June 2010
Access: Semi-private with opportunities for resort guests to play.
The basics: Greg Norman, a PGA Tour legend, is designing the 18-hole course as part of a 5,400-acre resort community. The Teton River and Teton River Canyon run
through the property, which also includes sweeping views of the Tetons. The course will slice through open, rolling meadows.
History: River Rim Ranch began development in 2004. The project moved into its second phase in 2006, allowing construction of the golf course.
What’s unique: This will be Norman’s first course in Idaho.
It’s not all about golf: The River Rim Sporting Club features trout fishing in the Teton River and state-of-the-art equestrian facilities. It also includes the more ordinary offerings—tennis, swimming, spa and fitness.
Photography in order of appearance Courtesies of Sun Valley Company, Galena Ridge by Chuck Haney,
Hunter's Point, the Idaho Club, Teton Rim Golf Club
Text Chadd Cripe